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IS 101
Intro. to Information Systems

Revised: January, 2009
Credits: 3
Instructor: Ed Nickel
Office: HTC 133
Phone: 753-2241 (office with voice mail)
E-mail: due to increased spam my email address will be provided the first day of class
Class Web Page:
Textbook: Fluency with Information Technology, 3rd ed. by Lawrence Snyder, ISBN 0321522559, Addison Wesley. You may use the older, 2nd edition of this textbook if you wish, but be aware that some of the information in the older edition is obsolete and not all chapters directly align with the newer textbook. I do not recommend using anything older than the 2nd edition of this text. I have made appropriate notes in the reading schedule below for both editions. The menu of links in the upper right corner of the class web page includes material relevant to this class. Search using the title, author, or ISBN for pricing at various discounters/used book dealers, or pay full price at the college bookstore.


CATALOG DESCRIPTION: IS 101 - Introduction to Information Systems is an introduction to computer-based information systems management including hardware/software relationships, business applications usage, systems theory, current technology, networking, the Internet, computer security, and privacy issues. Recommended co-requisite: IS 201.

Welcome to IS 101, Introduction to Computer Information Systems. This course covers essential computer technology and is designed to meet the GBC General Education technology requirement. We will cover computer hardware, major applications, systems theory, application development, emerging technologies, security, ethical, and privacy issues. This course should help you develop a strong understanding of computers and the role they play in the business environment and society at large. IS 201 is a recommended companion to this class. This class is primarily discussion but includes significant hands on components for which computers are used to complete assignments. Two of the more significant assignments include a written report due by mid-term and an oral presentation to be scheduled with the instructor. All other assignment due dates will be noted when the assignments are given. Additional time outside of class will be needed to complete assignments. To complete assignments students may use any open GBC computer lab or, if available, their own computer and appropriate software.

The textbook, Fluency with Information Technology by Lawrence Snyder, covers three knowledge domains:

  • Skills, which consist of competence with contemporary computer applications;
  • Concepts, which are the fundamental principles upon which information technology is founded, including basics ideas relating to information, computer hardware, databases, and networks;
  • Capabilities to apply reasoning in complex situations, which allows the student to master higher-level thinking in the context of information technology.

METHOD OF INSTRUCTION: This class will be taught live with a combination of lecture, discussion, and hands on exercises. You are expected to participate in discussions during each class, complete various exercises, take the quizzes, and participate in other class activities.

I can be reached at the phone number listed above or you can make an appointment to see me during office hours or at other times. Office hours are posted on my office door and on my web site. The schedule of reading assignments, homework and tests is found below. Additional assignments will be given verbally or as handouts in class.


The primary objectives for this class are to provide students with a working knowledge of technology, primarily computers, as used in modern society and we will cover some of the many ethical dilemmas surrounding the use of these technologies. To this end, the essentials of both computer hardware and software use in the workplace will be covered. Appropriate uses and common misuses of this seemingly omnipresent tool will be discussed. Some of the topics to be covered in this class include:

  • how computers can augment and enhance many traditional human activities, but rarely, if ever, replace such activities;
  • computers and networks as communications medium, e.g. the Web and email;
  • an essential of understanding the complex relationships between computer hardware and software;
  • ethics and confidentiality when collecting, analyzing, and using personal information, e.g. database use and privacy issues;
  • intellectual property rights, e.g. patent, copyright and fair use doctrine;
  • health ramifications of computer use, e.g. carpel tunnel syndrome, eye strain, and possibly long term problems;


The successful student in this class will be able to:

  1. illustrate the relationships between computer hardware, applications, and operating systems
  2. create basic data presentation and analysis constructs using essential computer software tools
  3. demonstrate computer and network usage as communications tools
  4. demonstrate the use of and critically evaluate electronic data and the Internet as information resources
  5. discuss ethical and privacy issues relating to computer use in the business environment
  6. list and define computer technology related careers and career requirements
  7. demonstrate effective written & verbal communications
  8. illustrate a clear understanding of at least two specific technologies
Learner Outcome Measurements
Measurement Method Learner Outcomes
Class Discussion 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8
Term Paper & Presentation 4, 7, 8
Hands On Exercises 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9
Quizzes 1, 3, 4, 5, 6


GRADING POLICY:This is a letter grade class an A=90-100%, B=80-89%, C=70-79%, D=60-69%, F=59% or less or W=Official Withdrawal if done before the withdrawal deadline. There is no curve in this grading scale. Your grade will be based 20% on class participation and discussion, 40% on your assignments, and 40% on quiz results. All assignments are due by the beginning of the next class unless otherwise indicated by the instructor when they are assigned.

QUIZ PROCEDURES: All quizzes will be objective, e.g. true/false, multiple choice, fill-in the blank, etc.

ATTENDANCE POLICY: The instructor must agree in advance to any excused absences unless there are strong extenuating circumstances. Three (3) unexcused absences can result in a failing grade, in an on-line class an absence is one week when you do not participate in class or contact the instructor.

OTHER POLICIES: The student rights & responsibilities policy stated in the current GBC Catalog apply to this class. If you need special accommodations please contact GBC's ADA Officer at 775-753-2271 as soon as possible. Plagiarism and other forms of academic dishonesty will not be tolerated and can result in a failing grade. This syllabus is not a contract and is subject to reasonable changes as the class proceeds.


You should have read and be prepared to discuss each week's topics by the beginning of class. We will have significant hands on experiences during many lessons. If you are using the 2nd ed. of the textbook most chapter readings are the same except as noted in this schedule. Furthermore, please be aware that many updates and new technologies are mentioned in the 3rd ed. but not in the older text.

Topics & chapters by week:
Week 1: Chapters 1 & 2 Computer terminology and the GUI using MS Word
Week 2: Chapters 3 & 4 Introduction to networking and web page creation
Week 3: Chapters 5 & 6 Finding and evaluating online information
Week 4: 1st Quiz & Chapter 7 Quiz then debugging and troubleshooting
Week 5: Chapters 8 & 9 Relating computer hardware to software, data, & OSs
Week 6: Chapters 9 (cont.) & 10 Hardware continued and algorithms
Week 7: Chapter 11 Multimedia
Week 8: 2nd Quiz & Chapter 12 Quiz then computer math begins & TERM PAPERS ARE DUE
Week 9: Chapters 12 (cont.) & 13
(2nd ed. chap. 12 & 17)
Ethical, societal, and privacy implications of IT
Week 10: Chapter 14 & 15
(2nd ed. chap. 13 + new)
Spreadsheets using MS Excel
Week 11: Chapters 16 & 17
(2nd ed. chap. 14-16)
Database concepts with MS Access &
Week 12: 3rd Quiz & Chapter 18 Quiz then introductory programming concepts
Week 13: Chapters 19 & 20 Trying your hand at programming
Week 14: Chapters 21 & 22 Mixing programming with the Web and multimedia
Week 15: Chapters 23 & 24 Computer's limits and the wrap up
Week 16: 4th Quiz Only quiz 4

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Original content on this website created by Ed Nickel is licensed
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Based on a work at