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ERIC Number: EJ971757
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012
Pages: 24
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 30
ISSN: ISSN-2165-3151
Using the Work System Method with Freshman Information Systems Students
Recker, Jan; Alter, Steven
Journal of Information Technology Education: Innovations in Practice, v11 p1-24 2012
Recent surveys of information technology management professionals show that understanding business domains in terms of business productivity and cost reduction potential, knowledge of different vertical industry segments and their information requirements, understanding of business processes and client-facing skills are more critical for Information Systems personnel than ever before. In an attempt to restructure the information systems curriculum accordingly, our view is that information systems students need to develop an appreciation for organizational work systems in order to understand the operation and significance of information systems within such work systems. Work systems are systems in which human participants and/or machines perform work to produce products and/or services for internal or external customers. This view stresses that systems in organizations involve more than an IT system (such as a data warehouse or an accounting application). The work system method has been designed to assist in developing an understanding of work systems in organizations. The method describes an adaptable set of steps that an analyst can use to identify a work system, clarify problems, issues, and opportunities related to that work system, identify possible directions for change, and produce and justify a recommendation. To date, the use of the work system method in information systems curricula has demonstrated that postgraduate students can benefit from this approach when examining a business situation involving an information system. To contrast the experiences of post-graduate students with work experiences, in this paper we report on use of a simplified version of the Work System Method in a freshman Information Systems course and study how students without work or technical knowledge performed when analyzing IT-reliant work systems in business settings. We reflect on an introductory information systems course that included a work system analysis assignment, and we examine the reports produced by students as well as the learning outcomes and challenges. Our analysis reveals that undergraduates can benefit from analyzing IT-reliant work systems through the work system method. Their analyses tend to reflect their lack of business background, but doing these analyses can help as a first step toward appreciating the business situations in which information systems are used. We present a series of implications for improving the class experience related to teaching work system ideas and including IT-reliant work systems as an essential part of an introductory information systems course. These implications relate to clarifying the scope of a work system analysis, providing examples of successful as well as unsuccessful analyses for guidance, providing relevant analysis templates, succinctly defining terminology and assisting in emphasizing the differences between technologies, work systems, and organizations. Perusing these recommendations, our work demonstrates how information systems students can start developing a holistic understanding of information technology in use in corporate organizations at a very early stage of their learning process. (Contains 1 figure and 7 tables.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Australia