Teaching about Information Technology in Nations: Building and Using the "Landscape of IT" Repository

By Carmel, Erran; Cheney Mann, Joan Ellen | Journal of Information Technology Education, Annual 2003 | Go to article overview

Teaching about Information Technology in Nations: Building and Using the "Landscape of IT" Repository


Carmel, Erran, Cheney Mann, Joan Ellen, Journal of Information Technology Education


Introduction

For the last seven years, MBA students at American University (Washington D.C.) have documented the landscape of IT in different nations. Their course work becomes immediately available to the world via a web-based repository (http://www.american.edu/academic.depts/ksb/mogit/country.html). This repository has become a valuable and innovative resource for educators, researchers and practitioners. The purpose of this paper is to describe novel but tested methods for educating students on international technology. We introduce the "Landscape of IT in Nations" project assignment and demonstrate how the assignment benefits both the student authors and those that visit the repository. To set the stage, we begin by describing the global program at American University (AU) and the course in which the Landscape of IT project is assigned. Once the academic context has been set forth, the Landscape of IT assignment is described followed by a description of the repository. To demonstrate the usefulness of the repository, we describe various audiences that have made use of the assignment. The audience we describe in detail is that of Old Dominion University (ODU) undergraduate class entitled "Information Systems for Global Business" that, for 4 years, has used the AU repository to achieve affective learning outcomes. The last portion of the paper evaluates our collective experience using learning theory perspectives. We apply social exchange theory to the AU experience and affective learning theory to ODU experience.

Creating the Repository at American University

The Academic Setting: American University's MoGIT Program

Integrating International Business and in particular International IT into the curriculum has been the source of some debate in business schools (Elliott, et al, 1994; Kaynak, 1995; Khosrowpour & Loch, 1993). Fundamentally, we are faced with three choices (Deans & Goslar, 1993). The choices are either to:

1. infuse the international material into the existing IT curriculum;

2. create a free-standing International IT course;

3. or, a combination of both.

At American University (Washington DC) in the Kogod School of Business, at the MBA level, we undertook the 3rd choice and created a program labeled "Management of Global Information Technology" (MoGIT). The IT curriculum as a whole was designed to include a greater emphasis on global (and nonAmerican) perspectives. In addition, several courses were designed to be entirely international. The course described here is one of those.

The Course: "Impacts of National IT Environments"

The "IT Landscape" repository is the central learning device for the course Impacts of National IT Environments on Business. The primary objective of this half-semester course is to ensure that students fully understand how national development and IT interact to impact the functioning of both domestic and multinational organizations. A secondary objective is to make the students aware of how nations are using IT to gain comparative advantage and thus, impact the global environment. Therefore, the course exposes business students to a unit of analysis that they are usually not familiar with from other business courses--the national level.

The Repository project: "The Landscape of IT"

The principal course project is a web-based report on the landscape of IT in a country. The report is divided into approximately 15 sections (see Figure 1). The MBA students are conducting a very broad research process: seeking data on a broad range of social science and business domains. Within each topic section the student is encouraged to gather data, statistics, and anecdotes and then interpret, integrate and evaluate these data. The typical topic section takes up 1-2 web pages. In the course of this research the students begin to grasp the intellectual landscape of ICT in a nation--what are its dimensions, its obstacles, and its potential. …

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