Academic journal article Communications of the IIMA

An Innovative Framework of Integrating ERP into IS 2010 Model Curriculum

Academic journal article Communications of the IIMA

An Innovative Framework of Integrating ERP into IS 2010 Model Curriculum

Article excerpt

INTRODUCTION

Information systems (IS) education is being transformed from the development of functional applications towards the implementation and configuration of integrated enterprise software-- enterprise resource planning (ERP) (Topi et al., 2010). The trend is reflected by the significant changes made on the IS cores and electives in the latest model curriculum, the IS 2010 Curriculum Guidelines (Topi et al, 2010). In the core, this new model removed application development and replaced it with enterprise architecture. The model also recommended that enterprise systems be added as an elective course to teach technical ERP implementation and configuration.

ERP systems are generic and packaged software systems that provide comprehensive functionality and business process integration across the enterprise. ERP is a platform that integrates all business functions with its centralized data repository shared by all the business processes in the integrated enterprise-wide system. Unlike other computer applications, ERP has the multidisciplinary scope of enterprise system concepts that requires internal cross-disciplinary coordination (Anderson, Nilson, & Rhodes, 2009). Learners must acquire and understand cross functional processes while implementing and configuring the ERP software. Therefore, instead of teaching ERP in a single IS course, an effective IS curriculum should integrate ERP in multiple IS courses with focus on different but integrated topics to reflect the complex reality of ERP implementation and configuration. This paper presents a framework of innovatively integrating ERP into multiple core and elective courses proposed in IS 2010. The framework will help IS educators design an effective curriculum to teach students with in-depth ERP knowledge and extensive ERP skills.

FRAMEWORK

ERP systems have been taught in the academic world for more than a decade. Many research initiatives have been undertaken to better understand the skill requirements of ERP graduates (Becerra-Fernandez et al. 2000; Boyle and Strong 2006; Watson and Schneider 1999) and how to integrate ERP into business or engineering curriculum (Boykin & Martz, 2004; Davis & Comeau, 2004; Johnson, Lorents, Morgan, & Ozmun, 2004; Peslak 2005; Seethamraju, 2002). However, very little has been done to integrate ERP into the model IS curricula such as IS 2010.

Pedagogical methodologies such as hands-on experience, case teaching, technical implementation and simulation approaches are highly valued in the current ERP education. Hands-on experience enables students to navigate, explore, process transactions and configure ERP systems. But the laboratory manuals often focus on step by step instruction, not on business logic (Scott & Sugar, 2004). Consequently, students learn to execute ERP technical tasks without understanding why they are being performed. Hands-on learning experience has limited value unless it is reinforced with in-class discussion and review. The integration of hands -on laboratory learning and business process learning via reading, discussion, and case study is a challenging approach to learning ERP fundamentals.

Some SAP educators have responded to the challenges by using case teaching to recreate the organizational context within which ERP implementations are conducted. The case teaching approach usually achieves in more process-oriented thinking than traditional or functional teaching approach does. This approach allows students to develop high-order reasoning skills with hands-on experience (Fedorowicz, Gelinas, Usoff, & Hachey, 2004; Hackney, McMaster, & Harris, 2007), which in turn increases their motivation and interest in the subject. But these teaching cases rarely allow students to experience all the challenges of the whole process of changing business processes, as they do not give students the opportunity to interact with professionals and face the problems in the real world (Morrell, Freeman, Serrano, & Mock, 1993). …

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