The Merging of Systems Analysis and Design Principles with Web Site Development: One University's Experience

Article excerpt

The growth and acceptance of the Internet is unparalleled in the history of technology. The personal computer, first introduced by Apple Corp. in 1979, and then by IBM in 1981, took a number of years to become standard business equipment. Even fax machines and answering machines took many years before they were considered to be essential business tools. However, the growth of the Internet has exceeded all previous records for both the brief time of acceptance and the number of businesses embracing this new technology. Miller (1999) points to a recent International Data Corporation (IDC) research report indicating that small businesses with Web sites have grown by nearly 110 percent over the last several years, and that by 2001, there will be close to 4.3 million small businesses on the Web. For most companies, the question is no longer whether to establish a Web site, but rather how to construct the best site for their business.

The explosive growth of Internet technology is challenging educators to develop courses of study. Many of these courses involve teaching students Internet literacy, or offering instruction on how to create pages and publish them on the Web. However, the building of a Web site is much more complex than this. It involves:

* Knowledge of the communication process.

* Understanding of graphics, animation, video, and sound.

* Understanding of hardware, software, and standards of a Web network.

* Appreciating the rising issues and capabilities of the Web.

* Application of the phases of the systems development life cycle, which include analysis, design, implementation, and maintenance.

A new course, Web Site Administration: Theory and Design, was developed at Indiana University of Pennsylvania to provide students with an opportunity to address some of the issues created by the explosion of Web sites. This course combines the major principles of the Systems Development Life Cycle (SDLC) with the techniques used in Web site development. One of the strengths of this course is the wide diversity of the students who enroll. There are undergraduate and graduate students from a wide spectrum of majors whose computer skills range from basic computer literacy to more advanced levels. One of the strengths that come with such diversity is the tendency to avoid "tunnel vision" as students progress through the various steps in the development of a Web site.

Teaching and Learning Environment

The teaching and learning environment is based on four components: classroom, software, hardware and teaching. The environment can be modified based upon available facilities and budgetary situations.

Classroom

The room is designed so that it can be used as a laboratory and a classroom. Two-thirds of the room is the laboratory portion and one-third is the classroom. Specifically, the room includes the following:

* Permanently mounted overhead projection system.

* Instructor's station equipped with a microprocessor, VCR, document camera, and mixer.

* Twenty-eight student workstations configured as a LAN.

* Work tables for group meetings and project development.

Software

The major objective of this course is to design and publish a Web site in a team environment during one academic semester. As a result, Web authoring and site management software, Web server software, graphic design software, and communications software are necessary. The specific software tools used in this course are:

* MS Front Page 2000 (Web authoring/site management software).

* MS Windows NT Server with Internet Information Server 4.0 (Web server software).

* Netscape Communicator/Internet Explorer (communication software).

* Corel Webmaster Suite/Photo Paint (graphic design software).

* Sound Blaster Suite (sound editing software).

Hardware

This course is effectively taught with the following hardware configurations:

* Dell XPS D333 Microprocessor (production Web server). …