1. Introductions and personal learning

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Where do applications come from - smart phones, online banking, even games? These are all examples of Information Systems. This module - 1. Introductions and Personal Learning covers the key concepts of Information Systems. What are the major components of a computer system? How are Information Systems created?

Learning outcomes

  • explore the course structure and presentation
  • use the discussion forum for module discussions
  • learn about personal learning styles and study tips appropriate to learning styles
  • participate in student-led discussions
  • explore the subject of Information Systems


  • IT professions, information, computing, systems, hardware, computers, networks, control, systems development process, project management, management systems, production control, anytime anywhere computing, technology advances and trends

Selected media

Information systems. (2012, February 12). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. Retrieved 03:35, February 13, 2012, from http://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Information_systems&oldid=476417280 APA citing this page

  • Optional - Tomorrow's Technology and You - Chapter 1. Our Digital Planet
  • Biographies - people who made significant contributions to IT in their lifetime.

Information science free e-textbooks


Study questions

  • Are you a "resident" or a "visitor"? Are you sometimes both, depending on what you are doing online - school assignments, communicating with friends and family, paying bills electronically?
  • What is the difference between "data" and "information"?
  • What is your personal interest in information systems?
  • What experience do you have in directing your own learning within the framework of a course? Are you open to self-directed learning in an online networked environment?


Your responses to this and all other assignments will be graded for college-level writing. Spelling and grammar errors will result in deductions. Late submissions are not accepted unless you get an extension from the instructor prior to the due date. Complete and thoughtful replies that demonstrate original thinking and personal experience will be rewarded with extra points. For more information, see Discussion participation

  1. Read the Syllabus There is a lot of important information in the syllabus.

  2. Read Welcome that describes how to get started. This page describes how the class works in detail and answers many questions that you might have.

  3. In the Discussions forum, introduce yourself to your classmates. Describe yourself in 3 words. These three words should tell us about your best traits, things you are good at and are proud of. Then write 2-3 sentences describing why you chose these three words. Post your introduction in discussion topic Introductions and expectations. Please use the Reply function to post your information. This will add your introduction to the topic discussion thread. For example, here is my introduction.
    Valerie Taylor - caring, curious, thoughtful. As a mother, wife, teacher and neighbor, I care a lot about my family, my students and my community. I am always interested in learning new things and putting them to good use.

  4. To your Introduction, add 2-3 sentences about your outside interests. Are you interested in art, music, computer games, travel, cooking? Do you have any pets? You can include a small picture. This is an opportunity to meet classmates with similar interests. Write 2-3 sentences describing why you are taking this course and what you hope to learn in the class. Is this "for fun" or do you need to take this class for work or school? Are you enrolled in other DeAnza classes this quarter? Have you taken other distance learning classes? Could you physically get to DeAnza campus in Cupertino? If not, why not - travel, physical limitations, transportation, child care, scheduling? Are you planning to travel during the quarter and keep up with the class remotely? Where will you be?

  5. Take the The VARK Questionnaire : How Do I Learn Best? Review the VARK Helpsheets for learning and studying suggestions based on your learning style preferences. The Brain Color quiz is included because it addresses how you interact with others. This will be useful information in the discussions and online collaborations in the coming weeks. Take the What Color is you Brain quiz, then indicate your Brain Color in the Brain Color choice. Review the results and post a short note about your learning style and "your color" to discussion topic Learning Style. What is your Learning Style? Does this seem right? What suggestions do they make for your learning style? What study aids do they suggest that you could use? What does your color imply about your study habits?

  6. Look up your name in one or more search engines. How about Wikipedia? LinkedIn? How Many of Me? Are you there? How many links were found that contained references to people with the same name as you? Look at a few of these sites. Are there some interesting people who share your name? List 3-4 people in discussion Interesting People with My Name.
    For example there are more than 400,000 references to Valerie Taylor. There is a romance novelist, a professor of Electrical Engineering, a shark researcher and a woman who works to build hospitals in Bangladesh, and me, just to name a few.

  7. Read or view the Selected Media in the list above - online textbook chapters, web articles, lectures, podcasts. NOTE: There is too much here for you to read or view everything. You need to learn to skim all the suggestions, find a couple that interest you and teach you something that you didn't already know. There should be 2-3 articles, chapters or media that you spend time learning.

  8. Search the web for sites that discuss Information Systems. Find one that you think is particularly interesting. Refer to the web site article you found to get your student-led discussion started. Write a critical-thinking question about the issues discussed in the web site article that you found. Your question should lead to discussion about the importance of Information Systems. Include the web address of the page you selected and post your question in the Forum discussion topic Information Systems Websites. Then throughout the week, facilitate a discussion based on your question. Also participate in a minimum of two (2) other discussions on this topic.

  9. Search the web for sites that discuss IT Professions. Find one that you think is particularly interesting. Refer to the web site article. Write a summary of the job description. Include the web address of the page you selected and post your summary in the Forum discussion topic IT Professions. Review the websites in 3 other posts and add a question some aspect of the IT professions that you would like the class to explore.

  10. Your participation in class discussions is important. Throughout the quarter, discussion participation will be reviewed and graded. The score will be recorded in the discussion forum. The discussion participation grade will contribute to your final grade for the course. Review Discussion participation for more information.

  11. Personal Learning Environment (PLE) is a new way of thinking about personalizing education that is possible now that great educational information is available online. Do you prefer to read or listen? Do you prefer a print textbook or online material? Does participating in a discussion help you learn? Do you learn best if you are required to prepare a paper or a presentation? Do you like problems set? How about hands-on work? Have you experienced problem-based learning? Do you consider yourself a self-directed learner or do you need more structure? In the discussion topic Personal Learning, post a short description of your perfect personal learning environment. Read several other posts and comment on 2.

  12. Open Textbooks are those that are available online without charge. This is a relatively new idea, but in just a few years, 1000s of good quality textbooks (and some no-so-great textbooks) are available online for free. New ones are being added in all subjects everyday. New organizations promote open textbooks and maintain catalogs and directories of what is available. Specifically, look for textbooks in the Computer Science topic for books or chapters that are applicable to this course. In the discussion topic Open Textbooks - Information Systems, post a link to a textbook you would recommend, along with a brief overview of why you selected this one.

    Open textbooks are not widely used yet. Most faculty and students don't even know that they exist. However, you will be an "early adopter" as we will be using several open textbooks for this course. Because they are free, we can use the best parts of many textbooks. So find some you like!

  13. Catalyst exploration - For viewing the discussion forum topics, there are several options available. Change the discussion display format - threaded, flat, newest first, etc. - works best when there are multiple posts and replies in a single discussion topic. Turn the tracking on and off. Edit your posting (within the posting edit time limit only). Also check the Catalyst resource pages for information about the Forum features. Look for the little "?" links throughout Catalyst - they indicate that helpful information is available and will appear in a popup window. Learn to use the features NOW. Post any questions or suggestions in the Questions about CIS50? Ask here... forum as well.
    There is a guide online - Introduction to Catalyst. Be sure to review the section on managing emails from discussions.

  14. Catalyst personalization - Notice the little picture that accompanies my posts in the discussion forum. You can add your own to your profile - any small image file can be uploaded. For best results, it should be 100x100 pixels in size. Click on the "?" help button in your profile for additional information.

  15. Reflection - What was ONE important thing you learned this week? What was ONE point that was not clear? Your response should be two or three paragraphs. Use the I Think... 1 assignment to submit your reply.

Learning about Learning Styles

There are a couple of things to consider after you take the Learning Styles survey. There is your Preferred Learning Style - the one that is most comfortable for you and that you will select if you have a choice. However, there are some subjects and concepts that are better learned in another learning style. You just have to memorize poetry and history dates. You have to listen to music for music appreciation and oral presentations for speech class, even if these are not your preferred style.

Because you have been exposed to lots of learning styles throughout your schooling, you are probably pretty good at learning in all learning styles - you would not be taking college courses if you couldn't. Most schools operate in visual/verbal mode - teachers teach and students read, watch and listen. Depending on the school, the subject and the teacher, there may be some effort to providing learning opportunities in other learning styles - hands-on labs, discussion groups, multimedia presentations, self-study, problem sets, research papers.

Distance Learning should be able to provide more different learning styles. It is expensive and time-consuming to create some really interesting materials but lots of great course content is being made available for free. Now, an instructor can choose what to include without having to create it. The other problem is students' ability to view and use some of these courses because they require new computers with high-speed internet access. Everything is moving forward to making Distance Learning a really great learning environment for all students with all learning styles.

About Assignments

Every week the Assignments include a number of parts. In an online course it is important to include several activities to help you learn the subject material. Here is how it works.

  • Activation - Read the notes for a high-level overview of the lesson topic. Think about what you already know about the subject. Read the textbook chapter for the lesson using the study notes to guide your reading.
  • Application - Based on your reading, complete the writing assignments and the quizzes that require you to analyze the information presented in the reading and come up with your own observations and explanations for the questions asked in the assignments. Participate in the discussions - small group and/or whole class to share your ideas, read what others in the class think, ask questions and reply. Through assignments and discussions, you are actively using your knowledge, discovering new information and connecting what you already know and think about the lesson topic.
  • Demonstration - Expand your understanding of the topic through research. Search for web sites that have relevance to the topic, select ones that interest you and connect to the lesson topic, understand the material well enough to describe the site and its connection to the topic and its impact on society.
  • Integration - Guided by prompt questions, review what you have read and learned and provide critical analysis of the topic or the learning experience.

Any surprises here? Is this information new? Is it helpful to have this explained? Or is this way too much information?