A84272 Introduction to Computer Science

Scuola di Economia e Management
Academic Year 2013/14 First Semester

Docente TitolareAurelio Ravarini
Office"Torre" (main tower), 2nd floor
Phone0331 572327

Learning Objectives

By the end of the Module you should:
  • Understand the development of the web computing environment from a business perspective, specifically client-server architectures, cloud computing, and the shift from Web 1.0 to 2.0 computing
  • Have a critical understanding of how the basic principles of computer science relate to effective business in an increasingly digital environment
  • Developed understanding of some of the key components of computing systems, including: hardware, software, applications, file servers, authoring tools, algorithms, user ids, backup, standards, hyperlinking, urls, metadata, etc.
  • Understand some of the many critical issues with creating and sharing digital content, including: copyright; authorship; ownership; redundancy; relevance; authenticity; sourcing; indexing; testing; recency; etc.
  • Learning about the process of moving from a problem statement to a computational formulation of a method for solving the problem 
  • Data Handling: organize and present data in quantitative form to enable their use in business and collaborative contexts
  • Data Analysis: analyse and interpret data in a spreadsheet to produce useful results
  • Have gained experience of using an electronic spreadsheet (MS Excel)
  • Be able to create, edit and publish a ‘live’ web page, using the Wikipedia authoring tool
  • Have gained experience of using a simple web mark-up language
  • Have gained experience of working collaboratively online

Learning targets

ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies) play an increasingly pervasive role in our work, studies and social life.  The principles, practice and application of computer science play an increasingly critical role in the effective use of Information Technologies to support business.  This has been compounded by the recent development of the Web from a publishing system to a transactional and collaborative platform for business computing.
While you may never need to program software or manage hardware, all competitive 21st century businesses require an understanding of the concepts and application of computing science.  Companies such as Amazon, Google, Tesco, Apple and Facebook are some of many examples of successful businesses based on these concepts. This module is intended to provide students with a practical introduction to key concepts, via the collaborative creation of web content using a wiki (using the Wikipedia editor tool) and via the development of solutions to business problems based on quantitative dataset (using an electronic spreadsheet).
We continue to learn for as long as we use IT tools. For these reasons, the module places an emphasis on self-learning and finding your own solutions to specific problems.  There is a huge amount of help available on the Web, and you are encouraged to start developing an independent ‘problem solving’ approach.  This is a ‘skills’ module, aimed at you acquiring transferable practical skills and the ability to carry on learning more, regardless of any specific ‘tools’ used.

Course Content

The course is divided in four sections. 
In the first you will discuss the main business issues related to IT innovation: the evolution of IT platforms from the traditional stand-alone computing to web 2.0 and beyond, as well as the related implications for business and people.
In the second section you will deal with the opportunities of IT innovations in different fields. A representation of a computing system (IT architecture) will be introduced to drive a systematic analysis of the component of IT innovations such as mobile Apps, cloud computing, social networks.
The third and forth sections will respectively target two practical objectives: solving business problems based on quantitative data (with a spreadsheet) and authoring web pages collaboratively (with a wikipedia authoring tool). In these sections you will be asked to develop assignments both individually (problem solving) and in small groups (authoring web pages).

Course Delivery

The module will consist of a mixture of lectures, practical exercises, facilitated workshops, and student presentations. Students are expected to make use of the Wikipedia authoring tools, the Internet, information databases and electronic worksheets (such as MS Excel) to prepare for and complete the assessment exercises.  Students are expected to participate actively in class via discussion, questions, workshop activities and group work.
Sessions will be held in IT Labs with access to the Web.

Course Evaluation

The evaluation methods selected in this course are designed, as whole, to test both your knowledge and mastery of the skills and concepts taught, and your positive value-adding contribution to the learning journey of the class. The following is the breakdown of the final mark based on the various evaluation tools. Students' evaluation will be built on three components
- active participation: 10%
- assignments: 10%
- project group work: 30%
- written exams: 50%

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