Management Information Systems means using information technology -- computers and networks -- to help operate businesses and other organizations. Of course, that is a very broad topic. The heart of the course will be studying how to best organize business-related information in a computer system. In particular, we will study relational databases, and how to design and use them. I will give a lot of exercises on database design -- working from a verbal or written description of a situation, and deciding what computer data tables to use and how they should be interrelated. "Hands-on" computer experience is also important, so we will learn to use Microsoft Access, relatively user-friendly relational database software that is part of the Microsoft Office software family. Some of the homework will involve constructing databases and associated queries, forms (windows/screens), and reports using Access.
Intermixed with the more technical relational database design and Microsoft Access topics I plan to cover some general lecture material on business information systems. Apart from some basic arithmetic exercises calculating storage and data transfer time requirements, this largely declarative material will be tested via multiple-choice questions on some of the exams. Based on the preliminary findings of an ongoing school-wide task force studying coverage of Microsoft Excel in the curriculum, it is possible that some of the general lecture material will be replaced with Microsoft-Excel-related material or some exercises with Microsoft Access pivot tables.
Attendance: At the beginning of most classes, I will hand out a sign-in sheet to monitor attendance, and attendance will have some effect on my grading calculations. On purpose, I do not announce the exact impact of attendance on grades until the end of the semester. Suffice it to say that I will design the policy so that up to three absences will not directly affect your grade, but frequent absences could have a significant effect. One recent time that I taught the class, for example, I deducted 0.5 points from each student's overall course score for each class missed beyond an allowance of five. I will do something similar this semester, but I will not announce the exact calculation until the end of the semester. The goal of this policy is to discourage poor attendance, not to reward perfect attendance.
Attendance and Office Hours: Regardless of the reason you missed class, office hour time is reserved for students who have attended class; it is not for giving private classes to students who did not attend at the scheduled time, however good their reasons.
Weather and Other Disruptions: In severe weather, please check the class website -- if at all possible, I will post any class cancellation or schedule change information there as soon as I can. Also, check your Rutgers e-mail for any announcements of class cancellations. You can also monitor the Rutgers New Brunswick operating status page or the other resources listed on that page. My general policy is to hold class when the campus is open, and cancel class when the campus is closed.
E-Mail List: I will sometimes use the Sakai mail tool to distribute important information such as class cancellations or homework assignment corrections and hints. Please check your e-mail regularly for class announcements -- it will be your responsibility if you miss one of these announcements. Sakai uses whatever e-mail Rutgers has on file for you. You may update the address Rutgers officially has on file by modifying your student record online at https://personalinfo.rutgers.edu/pi/updateAddress.htm (log in with your NetID).
Website: Unlimited-release material will be at http://eckstein.rutgers.edu/mis. I will also use Sakai to post limited-access material such as class notes, homework solutions, and exam solutions, and for submission of parts of some of the homework assignments. I find the BlackBoard website system cumbersome and try to avoid using it when possible; Sakai provides very similar functionality.
Questions: Unless you have skipped the relevant class, questions are strongly encouraged during class and office hours, and by e-mail.
Books and lecture notes:
I will not use a printed textbook in this class. I have a nearly-finished draft textbook of my own which will be used for the majority of topics. I will release draft chapters of this book on Sakai. The remaining topics will be covered in supplementary notes which I will also release on Sakai.
The book used in the other sections may be a helpful reference for the portions of the class (mostly for the material I plan to cover March 25 - April 5 and April 19), and may be used as an optional supplementary text. This book is Microsoft Access SQL Comprehensive: Version 2010 by Dr. Pindaro Epaminonda Demertzoglou, ISBN 978-0988330009.
Exams: Exam policies will be announced prior to each exam. Traditionally I have held closed-book, closed-notes, no-computer exams in this course, but that policy is subject to change. The final exam will cover the entire course; the coverage of each midterm will be announced in class. Each exam will consist of some database-design-related questions (not multiple choice), plus additional material that will depend on the particular exam. If you are absent from an exam, you must supply verifiable documented proof of a serious medical or family emergency, or you will receive zero credit. I do usually not give make-up exams for missed midterm exams; instead, I just put more weight on the other exams. Typically, I do have a make-up exam available for missed final exams. For all exams, I have requested rooms without computers. I formulate my exams so that you do not need a physical computer, and rooms without computers have more usable desk space. It is also much easier to proctor exams in rooms without computers, and their temptations and opportunities for cheating are lower. Traditionally I have graded exams myself, but since I now have so many students, I may delegate some of the exam grading to a graduate student TA or grader.
Homework: I plan to give ten homework assignments, each due one week after it is handed out. Starting January 22, I will typically hand out homework each Friday, due the following Friday. There will be no credit for late homework; all assignments handed in late will be given a score of zero. However, I plan to drop your lowest score when computing your aggregate homework grade, a policy that might effectively allow you to skip one homework assignment. However, it is not good strategy to skip an assignment early in the semester, when they tend to be easier. In addition, I may also excuse you from a few additional homework assignments if you can supply verifiable written documentation of a family or medical emergency. Most homework will be submitted in paper form, but parts of one (or perhaps two) assignments will be submitted online, probably using Sakai. Homework assignments are normally graded by a graduate student TA or grader.
Collaboration and Cheating: You are allowed to seek help from or give help to other students on homework assignments; I have found collaboration on homework, if done responsibly, can improve learning. However, I have found it critical for the learning process that that you do your own computer work, even if you received help. While there is no formal penalty, it is not appropriate to simply watch somebody else do the work and/or hand in their files. Collaboration of any kind is strictly forbidden on all exams, and any violations that I detect will be formally prosecuted. Students should familiarize themselves with the RBS honor code pledge, "I pledge, on my honor, that I have neither received nor given any unauthorized assistance on this examination (assignment)." See http://academicintegrity.rutgers.edu/academic-integrity-at-rutgers for more information.
Computer Lab: The Microsoft Office 2013 software needed for this course is installed in the classroom, the student computer labs and "pods" around the business school building, and in the OIT general-access labs around campus. If you have Microsoft Access on your own computer, you may also use your own computer. Access 2010 should also be usable for the entire course, and Access 2003 or 2007 should be usable for all except one or two assignments.
Using non-lab computers: The various "Professional" editions of Microsoft Office includes Access, and if you have one of these versions, you may do the assignments on your own computer. Through Rutgers at the http://software.rutgers.edu website, you may purchase a reasonably complete version of Microsoft Office 2013 for Windows, including Access, for $30 (the usual list price is $400). There is no Mac version of Access, so you can only use a Mac in this class if you run Windows on it, which requires that you have enough disk space for two operating systems. My preferred way of running Windows on a Mac is to use virtual machine software such as VMWare Fusion or Parallels, and then install Windows and Office (for which you will need legal licenses) on the virtual machine. I estimate that your total cost would be $63 for VMWare Fusion or Parallels, $30 for Windows through http://software.rutgers.edu, and $30 for Office (also at http://software.rutgers.edu), or about $123 total. However, some details are not possible for me to confirm because the Rutgers software site shows me staff rather than student pricing. Having Windows on your Mac also may help you in other classes and after graduation. Generally, Rutgers' software pricing is very attractive, so I encourage you to take advantage of it while you are still a student.
Reading: Readings from my draft book and notes are indicated in the detailed course schedule below. I will post them on Sakai on a weekly basis. Typically, readings are intended to be read after the corresponding class, in order to cement your knowledge.
I then rank students according to these aggregate scores, and assign grades according to class rank, with some subjective judgment applied to borderline cases. Thus, the scores for all your class work are jointly "curved" together once at the end of the course. For more information on my grading methods, see http://eckstein.rutgers.edu/howigrade.
I reserve the right to make changes to the grade calculation scheme.