Indiana University Northwest

CSCI C106 Syllabus


Indiana University Northwest

College of Arts and Sciences – COAS

Computer Information Systems - CIS



Online Course Syllabus

CSCI C106 Introduction to Computers and Their Use


Dr. Jie Wang



(219) 980-6623


Hawthorn Hall 323


Course Description

Bulletin: CSCI–C 106 Introduction to Computers and Their use (3 cr.) P: ENG-W 031 or equivalent and MATH-M 007 or equivalent An introduction to computers and data processing. Includes the historical and current status of data processing and electronic digital computers; a survey of computer applications; foundations of computer programming; survey of programming languages. Credit cannot be given for both CSCI-C 106 and INFO-I 101. (Fall, Spring, Summer I)

This online course provides students with computer fundamentals, an understanding of the impact of computers in our computer-oriented society and a framework for using this knowledge effectively. Students will learn computer history, the current status and future trends of computers and computer-related technology, information representation in computers, computer architecture and hardware components, system and application software, computer networks and the Internet, database management, program development and programming languages, computer security and privacy, and the associated societal issues as well. Students not only learn about computer literacy and relevant cutting-edge technology trends, but they also gain a better understanding of technology in general and some issues surrounding technology today.


MATH M007 or higher, ENG W031 or higher


Required Text:

Understanding Computers today and tomorrow, comprehensive. 14th edition. Deborah Morley & Charles S. Parker. Cengage Learning. ISBN 978-113319024-0

Student companion web site

IU Northwest Attendance and Course Commitment Policy

This course has been approved to enforce the IU Northwest Attendance and Course Commitment Policy and the full text of this policy is available at

As a student in this course, you are expected to attend scheduled class meetings and actively participate in all class activities. Students who miss the first week of the semester or who do not attend 50% of the scheduled class meetings before the end of the fourth week of the semester may be subject to administrative withdrawal. Regardless of attendance, students who do not actively participate in this class by not submitting a majority of their assignments by the posted due date are subject to administrative withdrawal. Students who are administratively withdrawn from this class after the fourth week will not be eligible for a tuition refund. Administrative withdrawals may have an impact on the student’s financial aid awards and visa status.

IU FLAGS (Student Performance Early Alert System)

The instructor will be using IU’s Early Alert System to provide real-time feedback on your performance in this course. I will be entering data on factors such as your class attendance, participation, and success with coursework, among other things. This information will provide feedback on how you are faring in the course and offer you suggestions on how you might be able to improve your performance. You will be able to access this information in the student center: OneStart > Student Services page > Student Center > My Academics and Grades > My Grades. If there is no entry, then no concerns have been reported about your academic performance.

Course Goals and Objectives

  • Acquisition of a comprehensive knowledge of computers, which spans from the history of computers to the latest new technologies under development; from computer hardware to software and computer networks to the Internet and so on;
  • Deep understanding of the use of computers and their associated devices in every aspect of our society including, but not limited to: a variety of data storage devices and methods, Internet and Web, computer information systems and databases;
  • Ability to select the appropriate hardware and software for data management and information systems and formulate an effective solution by applying certain computer-related technologies;
  • Awareness of several major societal issues including security and privacy concerns involved in most computer applications.


Student Learning Outcomes:

Students will explore and become familiar with various concepts, principles, and applications of computers, information systems and technologies. Students who complete this course should be able to

  • Explain why it is essential to learn about computers today and discuss several ways computers are integrated into our business and personal lives.
  • Define a computer and describe its primary operations.
  • List some important milestones in computer evolution.
  • Identify the major parts of a personal computer, including input, processing, output, storage, and communications hardware.
  • Define software and understand how it is used to instruct the computer what to do.
  • List the six basic types of computers, giving at least one example of each type of computer and stating what that computer might be used for.
  • Explain what a network, the Internet, and the World Wide Web are, as well as how computers, people, and Web pages are identified on the Internet.
  • Describe how to access a Web page and navigate through a Web site.
  • Discuss the societal impact of computers, including some benefits and risks related to their prominence in our society.

  • Understand how data and programs are represented.
  • Identify a few of coding systems and numbering systems.
  • Do conversions between a binary number and a decimal number (without a calculator).
  • Explain functions of main components inside the system unit, such as CPU, memory, buses, expansion cards.
  • Understand how computer's CPU and memory process data (machine cycle, system clock).
  • Know that peripheral devices are connected to a computer via ports and connectors.
  • Describe a few strategies that can speed up computer operations and performance.
  • Know some new technologies under development which are possibly used in future computers.

  • Name several general characteristics of storage systems.
  • Describe the two most common types of hard drives and what they are used for today.
  • Discuss the various types of optical disc systems available today and how they differ from each other.
  • Identify some flash memory storage devices and media and explain how they are used today.
  • List at least three other types of storage systems.
  • Summarize the storage alternatives for a typical personal computer.

  • Understand the difference between system software and application software.
  • Explain the different functions of an operating system and discuss some ways that operating systems enhance processing efficiency.
  • List several ways in which operating systems differ from one another.
  • Name today’s most widely used operating systems for personal computers and servers.
  • State several devices other than personal computers and servers that require an operating system and list one possible operating system for each type of device.
  • Discuss the role of utility programs and outline several tasks that these programs perform.
  • Describe what the operating systems of the future might be like.

  • Describe what application software is, the different types of ownership rights, and the difference between installed and Web-based software.
  • Detail some concepts and commands that many software programs have in common.
  • Discuss word processing and explain what kinds of documents are created using this type of program.
  • Explain the purpose of spreadsheet software and the kinds of documents created using this type of program.
  • Identify some of the vocabulary used with database software and discuss the benefits of using this type of program.
  • Describe what presentation graphics and electronic slide shows are and when they might be used.
  • List some types of graphics and multimedia software that consumers use frequently.
  • Name several other types of application software programs and discuss what functions they perform.

  • Explain that a database is a collection of related data that is stored and organized in a manner so it can be retrieved as needed. The software used to create and manipulate a database is called a database management system (DBMS).
  • Discuss tables, fields, and columns and use Figure 14-1 to illustrate these concepts.
  • Explain that a variety of individuals are involved with DBMS. Be sure to point out that often one person takes on more than one role.
  • Briefly discuss how databases have evolved over the years.
  • Discuss the primary advantages and disadvantages of the database approach.
  • Explain that the data in a database has a hierarchy and review characters, fields/columns, records/rows, tables, and databases.
  • Explain that an entity is something (person, object, place, event, etc.) of importance to an organization. Entities that an organization wants to store data about become database tables. Characteristics of entities are called attributes. Discuss the three basic relationships that exist between entities: 1:1, O:M, and M:M.
  • Discuss the data definition process and the various properties that can be assigned to a field.
  • Explain that the data dictionary contains information about the data in a database (table structures, passwords, relationships between tables, etc.)—this is called metadata. Stress that the data dictionary monitors the application’s environment to ensure that no data is entered or used in a conflicting way (e.g., data exceeding field length limits or operations trying to combine numeric and character fields). Many database systems also use the data dictionary to provide security for access and/or update.
  • Discuss the importance of data integrity, validation, security, and privacy.
  • Explain that arranging data for efficient retrieval is called data organization and contrast indexed and direct organization.
  • Explain that databases can be classified in a variety of ways.
  • Contrast single-user databases with multiuser database systems.
  • Discuss client-server vs. n-tier database systems.
  • Explain the difference between centralized and distributed database systems.
  • Discuss the role of in-memory databases and how they differ from disk-based systems.
  • Explain that the relational database management system (RDMS) is the most widely used database model today.
  • Discuss the steps involved with designing a relational database, such as identifying the purpose of the database and what fields need to be included, the process of normalization, and determining and developing the structure of each table.
  • Describe how tables and forms can be used to enter data into a table, as well as to update it.
  • Explain that tables can be related so that data can be retrieved and updated in more than one table at a time. See Figure 14-16.
  • Discuss how queries and reports are used to retrieve information from a relational database.
  • Discuss object-oriented databases and how they are used today. Figure 14-19.
  • Explain that some databases are hybrid databases, such as those that use the hybrid XML/relational database model (direct the students’ attention to Figure 14-20).
  • Discuss the purpose of a multidimensional database.
  • Explain that databases are commonly used in conjunction with the Web. They can be used for a variety of purposes, such as information retrieval (looking up products and various other information), e-commerce (catalogs, shopping carts, supply chain management, data mining, etc.), and dynamic Web pages (where the appearance and content of the Web page change based on the user’s input).
  • Explain that any software that connects two separate applications—such as the Web server and the database in the example just mentioned—can be called middleware. Discuss several types of middleware, such as CGI, API, and PHP.

  • Define a network and its purpose.
  • Describe several uses for networks.
  • Understand the various characteristics of a network, such as topology, architecture, and size.
  • Understand characteristics about data and how it travels over a network.
  • Name specific types of wired and wireless networking media and explain how they transmit data.
  • Identify the most common communications protocols and networking standards used with networks today.
  • List several types of networking hardware and explain the purpose of each.

  • Discuss how the Internet evolved and what it is like today.
  • Identify the various types of individuals, companies, and organizations involved in the Internet community and explain their purposes.
  • Describe device and connection options for connecting to the Internet, as well as some considerations to keep in mind when selecting an ISP.
  • Understand how to search effectively for information on the Internet and how to cite Internet resources properly.
  • Discuss censorship and privacy, and how they are related to Internet use.

  • Explain why computer users should be concerned about network and Internet security.
  • List several examples of unauthorized access and unauthorized use.
  • Explain several ways to protect against unauthorized access and unauthorized use, including access control systems, firewalls, and encryption.
  • Provide several examples of computer sabotage.
  • List how individuals and businesses can protect against computer sabotage.
  • Discuss online theft, identity theft, spoofing, phishing, and other types of dot cons.
  • Detail steps an individual can take to protect against online theft, identity theft, spoofing, phishing, and other types of dot cons.
  • Identify personal safety risks associated with Internet use.
  • List steps individuals can take to safeguard their personal safety when using the Internet.

  • Explain why all computer users should be concerned about computer security.
  • List some risks associated with hardware loss, hardware damage, and system failure, and understand ways to safeguard a computer against these risks.
  • Define software piracy and digital counterfeiting, and explain how they may be prevented.
  • Explain what information privacy is and why computer users should be concerned about it.
  • Describe some privacy concerns regarding databases, electronic profiling, spam, and telemarketing, and identify ways individuals can protect their privacy.
  • Discuss several types of electronic surveillance and monitoring, and list ways individuals can protect their privacy.
  • Discuss the status of computer security and privacy legislation.


Course Activities and Methods of Evaluation

Assignments. Students will complete assignments on a chapter by chapter basis.

Forums. Each student is expected to actively participate in discussing questions posted by your instructor in online forums. Discussions are group-based and conducted in online forums. For each forum discussion assignment, students will post their ideas and make responses to others’ posts in the forum. Each group will summarize the discussion in a written report. Each group discussion assignment will be evaluated by an individual’s participation in the group forum as well as the quality of the report.

Tests & Exams. Students will take a test after completion of each chapter. Besides this, there are three exams throughout the semester which help students reinforce their understanding of the material. Students will be given a final exam at the end of the semester.

Grading Information

The final grade for this course will be based on a number of categories each with specific weights as shown in the table below:





Group forum discussions







Letter grades will be determined based on the percentage of possible points earned during the semester, as outlined below.

A+ (97% +)

B+ (87% - 89%)

C+ (77% - 79%)

D+ (67% - 69%)

F (59% - below)

A   (93% - 96%)

B   (83% - 86%)

C   (73% - 76%)

D   (63% - 66%)

A-  (90% - 92%)

B- ( 80% - 82%)

C-  (70% - 72%)

D-  (60% - 62%)

Class Policies Regarding Graded Work

**The following policies are in effect for all individual deliverables throughout the semester, unless noted otherwise. **


***Late Work***

All assignments have a deadline. NO LATE SUBMISSIONS are accepted. Due dates will be very strictly enforced, unless an extension is granted to all students. Any coursework turned in after a due date will NOT be accepted and will receive a grade of zero (0). If you become sick or a family emergency arises and you are unable to turn in your assignments on time, please inform the instructor as soon as possible and an extension may be offered. However, documented proof will be needed for such excuses. It is highly recommended that you start working on an assignment soon after it is given. Information on the due dates is available on OnCourse.


***Original Work***

Unless group collaboration is required, i.e., for group discussion assignments, your submission should be an individual work. Plagiarism can result in course failure and university dismissal. In cases of suspected plagiarism, university policy will be followed. Any student discovered cheating (copying files, committing plagiarism, etc.) will receive a zero for that assignment, and will be reported to the Dean of his/her division.  If more than one student is involved in the incident, s/he will receive the same punishment.


Academic Misconduct (Cheating, Fabrication, Plagiarism, Interference, Violation of Course Rules, Facilitating Academic Dishonesty)



Campus policy for Incompletes will be used.  Incompletes will be granted only in extreme circumstances, not for work-related deadlines, prior personal commitments, or falling behind in readings or assignments.


Incomplete Grades (see IU’s policy on Incomplete Grades below)


The grade of I (Incomplete) indicates that the student has satisfactorily completed the major portion of a course but is prevented by extraordinary circumstances from completing the balance of the course. The grade of I will be given only if the instructor has sufficient reason to believe that the failure to complete the requirements of the course was beyond the student’s control and that it would be unjust to hold the student to the time limits normally fixed for completion of the required assignments. The grade of I will not be awarded simply to exempt a student from paying tuition for a repeated course.

NOTE: The instructor will keep students apprised of assignment grades via the online class Grade book. Students are responsible for contacting the instructor if they do not receive any grade by 10 days after the assignment submission date.

Computer Information Systems Tutors

If you need additional help outside of class, Computer Information Systems (CIS) department has tutors located in HH320. Hours are posted outside HH320.


Additional Information

Successful Study Using Oncourse

The home page of Oncourse has links, video tutorials and several tips and updates to help you navigate the website. IU has prepared a reference page containing links to information about a variety of resources to help you function successfully in your online Oncourse class.

Right to Accommodation for Individuals with Disabilities

Indiana University is committed to creating a learning environment and academic community that promotes educational opportunities for all individuals, including those with disabilities. Course directors are asked to make reasonable accommodations, upon request by the student or the university, for such disabilities. It is the responsibility of students with documented physical or learning disabilities seeking accommodation to notify their course directors and the relevant campus office that deals with such cases in a timely manner concerning the need for such accommodation. Indiana University will make reasonable accommodations for access to programs, services, and facilities as outlined by applicable state and federal laws.

Campus support office:

Student Support Services,  Hawthorn 239,  (219)980-6798

Student Support Services: