Information Systems
Summer 2019 - Online

Moodle, Course Calendar
Syllabus quick links: Objectives, Structure, Textbook, Technology, Grading Criteria, Student Support

Course Information

Days & Times: The course officially begins on Monday, June 10.
Location: This course is online and "asynchronous." You do not need to be at your computer at any specific time or day. I release new topics on Mondays & Thursdays, and these will be the due dates for most of the assignments.
Credits: 3 hours
Prerequisites: MSCI1500 (Business Computing Essentials)
Instructor: Dr. Rick Jerz
Contact Information: or
Phone: (563) 447-0180 (voice mail)
Office: Virtual

Catalog Description

Application of computing principles to solving business problems; information technology in modern organizations; focus on sound data analysis to support decision making; tools used for problem-solving (spreadsheets, databases, web applications); role of information systems in organizations; components of information technology; Internet and network economy; basic data analysis and visualization; decision-making logic represented as algorithms; perform what-if analysis with data; and emerging technologies.

Course Objectives

The class provides a broad understanding of information technology in organizations. It also focuses on sound data-analysis to support decision-making. The tools used for problem-solving include spreadsheets, databases, and visualization. The class will cover the following topics:

  • Problem-solving with spreadsheets, databases, and visualization
  • Business processes and the value of information
  • Storing and organizing information
  • Transmitting information and the network economy
  • Information security and privacy
  • Electronic business
  • Internet websites and applications
  • Business analytics
  • Emerging technologies

We will be using a variety of software products to solve business cases. Additionally, you will learn how to manage your own web server to begin understanding how to manage information on the Internet.

Course Structure

This course is an 8-week accelerated “online” course utilizing the “asynchronous learning” model.  Each week (usually on Mondays and Thursdays) new topics are provided. Through my use of a variety of technologies, such as lecture videos, a website, an organized and easy-to-use Learning Management System (LMS), Moodle, you will see that I am very dedicated to making your learning efficient.  You can be successful in this course if you study the materials, watch the videos (often more than once), do all assignments on time, and ask questions whenever something is not understood. There is a link in the ICON course to Moodle.

The "Course Calendar" webpage shows dates and topics for this course.

Note: The summer 8-week semester is the same course as the regular 16-week semester, only twice as fast.

About a week before the class begins, I will send you a "Welcome" email that provides details and course access information, including how to access Moodle and a small pre-course assignment.  I send this email to your email addresses on record with the Registrar, so watch for this email and remember that you may need to check your “junk” mailbox.

Required Textbook(s) and Web Server

"MIS Cases: Solving Small Business Scenarios Using Application Software," 2nd Edition, 2012, Gardner, ISBN 978-1118291610, and
"Introduction to Information Systems: Supporting and Transforming Business," 7th Edition, 2018, Rainer et al., Wiley, 978111939731, or 9781119403500, or 9781119456346 - eBook with the Loose-Leaf Print Companion. Or ISBN 978-1-119-36296-8 (epub). WileyPlus is not needed.

See FAQ - How to keep the textbook cost affordable. Hosted Web Server Account. In our modern business world, a very significant technology for companies is the Internet. This course will teach you how companies make their presence on the Internet via your own "hosted web server." By having your own server, you will be able to experience some textbook topics firsthand. In my pre-course video, I will explain how to get this hosted web server. The course will be approximately $74 for one year. (Some students found discount codes that can be applied.) For now, think about what "domain name" you would like, such as (I have already taken this one.) Do not buy this product until you have watched the pre-course video.

Cost for this course: The expected cost for this course, around $180, will depend a little on where you get your textbooks. The first listed textbook is around $25 on Amazon. The second listed textbook you might find used, but if you buy from the bookstore, it can cost $70 or $100. Your GoDaddy hosted server will cost around $74. PC virtualization software for Mac owners is either free (VirtualBox) or less than $75 (Parallels or VMWare,) which is a long-term investment. ITS can help you install this software.

Course Technology

This course assumes that the student has some computer skills and understands how to use products such as email, browsers, word processing, and spreadsheets. There may be times where you will need help from ITS, which are the university's computer support departments.

A pre-course assignment has been provided to make sure that all of these course requirements are working well before the start of the semester. This pre-course assignment is also explained in the "Course Introduction" video.

Computer and Internet: For this course, you can use either a PC or a Macintosh computer. However, "officially" since this course is within the Business Analytics Department of the College of Business and its policy states that students should have a PC (See Management Sciences position about PC-only software.) For example, MS Access and MS Visio work only on PCs, and these products are not on the UIowa Virtual Desktop. Mac users can install a PC-emulator product (Boot Camp, VirtualBox, VMWare, or Parallels,) or they will need to find a PC that either has these products already install (e.g., Tippie lab computers) or can be installed. ITS can help install these emulators. I use a Macintosh MacBook Pro laptop with VMware, and have a Windows 10 PC that I can run from my Mac whenever I need to be in a PC environment.

Internet access, preferably broadband wired connections with upload and download speeds of at least 2 Mbps.

Make sure that you have access to these software products before the course begins (follow the directions in the pre-course assignment.) If you decide to use your own laptop or desktop computer, you will be installing a variety of software products on it that support our educational objectives.

Course Software: All software that we will use is available on any College of Business lab computer, but not necessarily on other computer lab computers. The UIowa Virtual Desktop has Microsoft Excel. Dreamweaver is only available on some computers in the Main Library.

This course requires the following application software: Excel (2013, 2016, 2019, or 365), Microsoft Access 2013 or 2016, Microsoft Visio 2013 or 2016, Dreamweaver, and Tableau 10. There should be no cost to you for any of this software. UIowa students are eligible to get MS Office 365 for free from Microsoft. MS Access and MS Visio can be downloaded for free from the Microsoft "Azure" website (on Azure, log in with your, and search for "software".) Tableau is provided through the Tableau for Teaching program for both PCs and Macs, which I will explain in my Pre-Course video. I will provide a link to Dreamweaver, when needed.

If you are working from your own computer, please note that you will need to either already have the software listed above, or you will need to install it on your own computer. There might also be the need to install some utility software for working with your website. Your PC laptop should have approximately 20GB of free hard disk space. If you are using a Mac, you might need around 50GB hard disk space for a virtual PC. If you have never installed software, you will probably need ITS for some support.

Browser requirements: You will need a modern browser that is up to date (Internet Explorer 11, Edge, Firefox, Safari, Chrome X, or equivalent.)

Email: Email is the most common method of communication for this course. Students can expect to receive weekly communications from the instructor (via email) introducing assigned coursework and the topics to be presented in the lecture videos. Students are expected to check their email account several times a week. You will also be receiving emails periodically from Moodle's forum discussions.

Acrobat, Email, iTunes (or another feed aggregator,) Video Player, Screen Capture

The latest version of Adobe Acrobat Reader must be installed on your computer to access course materials posted as PDFs.

You should have an email account (UIowa or other).

iTunes or a different "feed aggregator," such as Podcast Republic (for Androids), is optional but provides another alternative method to access videos. Videos can also be downloaded and played by many other video players, such as Windows Media Player or QuickTime player.

I also recommend knowing how to do "screen captures," for those times when you want to show me a problem that you are having with your computer or software. See my FAQ webpage for help with screen capture software.

University Computer Lab Computers: Students can use the University labs' computers, which meet these course requirements, and are available for those students who are on-campus.

Mobile Devices: Most of this course's materials are designed to be easily viewed from most modern tablets, smartphones, and multimedia players. Mobile devices are handy for playing videos and accessing course materials "on the go." We will also be using some of the instructional videos located on As a UIowa student, you have free access to this service at

Need Technical Support? Any questions about the course materials and Moodle should be directed to the professor.  The professor’s FAQ webpage might sometimes help. Questions about The University of Iowa specific items, such as your UIowa email, MS Azure, UIowa software, UIowa computers, etc., should be directed to ITS (our UIowa computer support group.) If you happen to be working on this course from another country, you can use Skype (and other methods) to phone UIowa support.

Grading Criteria

Students will be assessed based on their performance in the following items:

Discussions and participation: 20%
Self-Assessments: 15%
Projects: 50%
Two Exams: 15%

Final grades will be awarded based on the following ranges:

>= 99: A+ 94 - 99: A 90 - 94: A-
87 - 90: B+ 83 - 87: B 80 - 83: B-
77 - 80: C+ 73 - 77: C 70 - 73: C-
67 - 70: D+ 63 - 67: D 60 - 63: D-
below 60: F    

The Tippie College of Business guidelines suggest that an appropriate grade distribution would approximately consist 20% of the students in the A range, 40% of the students in the B range, 30% of the students in the C range, and 10% of the students with a grade of D or lower. This course is not graded on a "curve," therefore the exact grade distribution will depend on the class’s performance. The instructor reserves the right to adjust the grade distribution as appropriate.

Timing for Assignments: I typically turn on assignments about a week early, and make the due date one week after the week the topic is covered (shown on the Course Calendar webpage). I send you an email weekly as each new topic is turned on for you on Moodle. With this approach, just about every assignment, except for exams, is available to you for two weeks. All assignments have due dates (Mondays and Thursdays), that show in Moodle's "Calendar" and in Moodle's "Upcoming Events." When the due date expires, the assignment is over.

I try my hardest to help everyone who seeks my help before due dates, but the probability of getting my help goes down dramatically as the due date approaches (i.e., if you ask me a question two hours before an assignment is due, I may not respond.)

Participation: Participation is required. Each week there will be required discussions for the weekly topics. Some topics are worth one point, and some are worth two points. You can earn up to eight (8) points by making four or more posts. Approximately half of your posts must address the discussion topics, and half of these must be "replies" to other students' posts. I regularly read posts and provide points for each post, as long as your post meets quality expectations. A good post is thoughtful and relevant to the topic. Posts that are too simple, such as "I agree" or "Nice comment" will not count. You must state why you agree, and so forth. You will see me provide additional prompting whenever these short posts occur.

Self-Assessments (Textbook Concepts): For every chapter, you must complete self-assessments to see how well you understand the assigned readings. These self-assessments are on Moodle, and they must be completed by the due date -- no exceptions. If you do not like your grade, you can redo your self-assessment, and your highest grade is what counts. It is extremely important that you understand the self-assessment concepts and not merely guessing at answers until you get a good grade, otherwise, you will not do well on the exams.  Since you can redo your self-assessments, I encourage you to begin early and finish at least one attempt so that you hopefully will not end up with a zero.

Projects: Weekly projects will be assigned using various computer software, and activities, to reinforce important business concepts involving information systems. These projects must be completed by the due date.

Exams: There will be two exams, equally weighted and delivered electronically. Each exam will cover only the materials that we have covered in each half of the semester. These exams are timed, 1-hour long, but you will have a period of at least 24 hours to decide when to begin. You must take exams individually, and there will be severe consequences for those who do not follow this rule. The best way to make sure that you don't appear to be "cheating" is to make sure that no other student is in sight of you. Exams are open-book and open-notes. Also, at my discretion, I can ask you to find an instructor or administrator from a university to proctor your exam.

Bonus Points: Occasionally I provide bonus exercises, which are identified as "Bonus" on Moodle. Bonus exercises are always optional, and they are additional points within its own grade category. In the spirit of quality and continuous improvement, whenever you are the first student to identify an administrative error about any component of this course, you will receive one (1) bonus point. These bonus points can amount to up to 2% improvement in your overall grade.

Course Policies

Makeup Exams: Makeup exams are given only for extreme situations.

Rectifying Scores: During the semester, I will post all your scores on Moodle for you to view. After you get your assignment or exam grade, you have a week to dispute your score. Beyond this period, I will not entertain any disputes.

Late Work: Late work is not accepted.

Student Support

Academic Integrity and Misconduct: It is my sincere hope that no student in this class submits work which is not his or her own. However, it seems prudent to clarify in advance the policy on cheating. If I determine that any assignment was not completed solely by the student whose identification number appears on the project, the student will receive a zero (0) for the assignment and may receive an "F" for the class. All incidents of cheating will be reported to the Associate Dean of the Tippie College of Business, and the student may be placed on disciplinary probation for the remainder of his or her undergraduate work at the University of Iowa. In general, the decision of the Professor may be appealed to a Judicial Board, then to the appropriate Associate Dean. The Honor Code for the Tippie College of Business will determine the appropriate appeal process.

Classroom Etiquette (Netiquette): In emails, online discussions, and in class a courteous tone and politeness is expected. For tips on "Netiquette" technique, go to:

Collegiate Policies and Guidelines

Show the Tippie Collegiate Policies and Guidelines

University Policies and Guidelines

Accommodations for Disabilities: Show the UIowa Accommodations Policy.

Mental Health: Show the UIowa Mental Health Policy.

Sexual Harassment: Show the UIowa Sexual Harassment Policy.

Multicultural Holidays: Show the UIowa Multicultural Holidays Policy.

Sustainability: Show the UIowa Sustainability Policy.