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Course Description

This class includes broad coverage of technology concepts and trends underlying current and future developments in information technology, and fundamental principles for the effective use of computer-based information systems. There will be a special emphasis on networks and distributed computing, including the World Wide Web. Other topics include: hardware and operating systems, software development tools and processes, relational databases, security and cryptography, enterprise applications, and electronic commerce. Hands-on exposure to Web, database, and graphical user interface (GUI) tools.

This course is intended for students with little or no background in computer technology. Students with extensive education or work experience in computer technology should consider taking a more advanced course.


The course material includes all the required readings (articles) to be covered in class. It also includes non-Web optional readings, which offer supplementary material on the topics discussed, except for optional readings that are available via the Web. There are also some optional textbooks (that are not included in the course reader) and recommended Web material- see below for details.


Class Participation 20%
Three Problem Sets 40%
Final Exam 40%

We view this course as a cooperative learning experience and expect students to engage the topics provided as an opportunity to gain hands-on experience with some of the tools and technologies covered. They include (a) creating a personal home page, (b) working with a Microsoft® Access database and (c) constructing a web-based survey form that collects in a database information provided by people who fill out the survey on-line. All assignments are to be received by the TA before class on the due date.

Required Software

Microsoft® Frontpage® is required for completing Assignment 3 (and optional for Assignment 1).

Microsoft® Access is required for completing Assignment 2. Microsoft® Access is included as part of Microsoft® Office Professional.

Recommended Web Materials

The PC Webopedia is a Web site that serves as an encyclopedia of Information Technology terms. It provides excellent explanations of many Information Technology terms, together with links to additional web pages related to them. For many of the lectures, the course Web page contains pointers to the relevant category of the PC Webopedia. We strongly encourage you to use this valuable resource to clarify unanswered questions and to go beyond the material covered in class, according to your own personal interests.

Optional Textbooks

There are three optional textbooks.

Amazon logo White, Ron, et. al. How Computers Work. 7th ed. Indianapolis, IN: Que Publishing. ISBN: 0789730332.

Amazon logo Gralla, Preston, et. al. How the Internet Works. 7th ed. Indianapolis, IN: Que Publishing. ISBN: 0789729733.
Good introductory texts on the internals of computer hardware, system software and the Internet. Recommended if you don't have a background in science or engineering.

Amazon logo Viescas, John L. Running Microsoft® Access 2000. Redmond, WA: Microsoft® Press, 1999. ISBN: 1572319348.
One of the best and most detailed "bibles" on Microsoft® Access. The coverage is way beyond what will be covered in this course. This is an excellent reference book for students who are interested in becoming Microsoft® Access experts.