Lab Development for Delivering Information Systems Courses Online at Small Campuses

Lab Development for Delivering Information Systems Courses Online at Small Campuses

Li Chao (University of Houston—Victoria, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-1655-4.ch013
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In this case study, you will encounter some of the issues of lab development for delivering lab-based information systems courses online. Many small campuses have very limited budget or no budget at all for the computer lab specifically designed for information systems majors. Sometimes, even with new computers purchased, very few people know how to set them up for lab-based information systems (IS) courses. What are the software and hardware requirements for getting the lab online? How much will it cost? Where can you find resources for the lab development? To ensure quality teaching on IS-related topics, you have to deal with these issues. This case study will discuss how to create a lab that allows students to get hands-on practice for courses such as network management or database processing online with a shoestring budget.
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Setting The Stage

In this section, let us get started with philosophy, technology utilization, and management practice. First, the discussion will be on the description of various IS courses and their lab needs, particularly those that use the same resources but have conflicting requirements. After describing the courses and lab needs, the discussion will be on why a special lab is necessary for our information systems students. Then, it will focus on how the students use the lab and on the conflicts caused by multiple courses using the same resources. It will include current computer service staffing, resources, and requirements vs. needs. This discussion will illustrate why it is hard to put information systems courses online. Finally, you will see how much budget and support a small campus can get.

From the previous section, it is known that multiple teaching sites are involved in this case study. For each teaching site, a special teaching lab should be developed for hands-on practice. Each special teaching lab is designed to handle multiple courses. Each of these courses has its own requirements for lab resources.

This case study will include several hands-on practice-intense courses that are required courses for computer science and computer information systems majors. These courses are offered in multiple teaching sites and require the computer labs to perform hands-on practice. Multiple courses often share the same resources in a computer lab. As mentioned in the previous section, the teaching sites are away from each other, and all the students live off campus. Therefore, these courses also require that students be able to access the labs through the Internet.

Normally, there are about 20 classes offered each semester, and some of the classes may be offered at multiple teaching sites. There are about 15 students enrolled in each class. Often, the same course offered at different teaching sites is taught by different instructors, and therefore, the class needs its own lab and only allows its own students to access the lab.

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