Teaching a short six-week session of CIS 365 with a small group (9 students) was a great opportunity to try out some new things in the curriculum including (as mentioned) the use of an open-source DBMS, PostgreSQL, for teaching. Here’s some of what I discovered from the experience:
- BYOD with an open source DBMS works. Postgres works just about the same on Macs and PCs, so there were no complications in letting the students use their own machines, but one: I couldn’t figure out how to set a PATH in the Mac OS, so it was challenging for Mac users to use the command-line features of
- Adding a final “tech talk” assignment was a great way to focus the schedule on the DBMS. Previously I’d held a day on using Access and Excel as database front-ends, a day on Tableau, a day on database-driven websites with PHP, and maybe some other special topics. This cluttered the schedule and distracted the students. For the summer semester, instead, I spent more time on advanced features like stored procedures, triggers, and fuzzy-text queries, and I assigned each team to prepare a tech talk for the class on one of those other technologies which might be used for the front-end of a database application.
- Group projects are still hard to grade fairly. From the professor’s point of view, it’s hard to tell who’s doing the work and why. Next time, I’ll keep the projects but probably make them a smaller part of the overall grading.
In the coming year instead of CIS 365 I’ll be teaching CIS 355, a course on data warehousing in our new Business Data Analytics major. It should be a good course for me to leverage what I’ve learned about teaching SQL and RDBMSs, and explore a new application of those technologies.
The spring semester has just concluded and I’m proud to have finished my first year as an ASU faculty member. After a short breather, the summer session will be starting, and I’m going to be teaching CIS365 again from May 19 to June 27.
This semester, instead of using Microsoft SQL Server, we’re going to shake things up a bit and use PostgreSQL for the assignments. PostgreSQL (or just “Postgres”) is an open source database management system that should be able to run on everyone’s computer, even those of you with Macs, so we won’t have to fool around with virtual machines or cloud servers. (FYI, I installed the latest release, version 9.3, on my machine.) On the other hand, this means that the students and I will have to do some learning by trial and error as every database has its little idiosyncrasies.
I recommend that students look for some free help or documentation on the Internet, because the course text isn’t for Postrges specifically. I found one free book here, and I’m sure there are more, not to mention the official documenation at postgresql.org.
From a client who had our students do a website redesign:
“Thank you for allowing me to be part of it. The students did a fantastic job. I’m not only getting lots of new online orders, but many many more website visitors. The website is so much more impressive and I’m getting lots of offers for new … contracts from it. So, while most of what I do online is not quantifiable, it has noticeably made a difference in my presence.”
On Tuesday, we celebrated the success of 22 Capstone project teams with a first-ever capstone project showcase. Many of our sponsor organizaitons, as well as other faculty and students, were present to see the websites, mobile apps, digital marketing strategies, and consulting projects that our students had completed. Well done, everyone!
Thanks to all of the project sponsors who visited my CIS440 class on January 23rd, we successfully formed 23 student teams to carry out IT projects of all sorts during the semester ahead. I’m looking forward to seeing what kind of an impact we can make for the various sponsor companies over the course of what should be an exceptional learning experience!
Welcome to my freshly-updated website. In the spring semester, I’m teaching one section of CIS 365, Business Database Systems, and three sections of CIS 440, the capstone course for our CIS undergrads. My CIS 440 students will be working in teams to complete IT/IS projects for real-world businesses, such as websites, mobile apps, databases, requirements analyses, prototypes, and analytics dashboards. We had seven teams in the fall semester who produced excellent results for companies such as APS, Tanga, AuthorityLabs, and ASU, but I expect to have have more than twenty teams this spring. Do you know of a company, small or large, that would like to work with our students and get some projects from their backlog completed? Put them in touch with me. And students, I’ll see you in class next week!