Syllabus: INFORMATION MANAGEMENT DECISION 617 Spring 1, 2013

Table of Contents

    
     Course Content
          Required Software
          Prerequisite Skills, Benefits to be Gained
          Organization
          Penalties
          Scoring, Grading, and Appealing Scores
          Honor Code
          Time Commitment
          Texts/Coursepack
          Schedule
          Tools Used in Course Delivery
          Attendance
          Goal

 

Course Content

Information Management (DEC483) introduces students to the skills required to organize, manage, interpret, and present structured information (data) using Microsoft Excel spreadsheet software and Microsoft Access relational database software. The course provides practical experience with intermediate and advanced features of these applications. In addition to focusing on methods of manipulating data with these tools, the course also addresses the creation of effective data interfaces and methods for communicating meaningful summaries and recommendations.

The premise of this course is that a powerful tool set exists on your desktop PC for managing data and deriving insights from that data. The focus of the course is to familiarize with the Excel and Access components of this tool set through engagement with the tools in practical exercises. Ultimately, the aim of the course is to give you practice in framing and solving data problems and presenting solutions using the most efficient and effective Excel and Access features for the task at hand.

Spreadsheet assignments will focus on tools, analysis, and presentation. We examine table/list/database capabilities, data tables, interactive charts, dashboards, pivot tables, and the creation of user-friendly interfaces with Excel controls. An introduction to Visual Basic for Applications (macro language) programming in Excel is included. Database management assignments in Access will emphasize the two areas most likely to be useful for managers: Relational database design and relational database queries. Also covered are Access data presentation and reporting. Some of the most useful integration techniques available between Excel and Access are addressed.

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Required Software  

The course will be taught using the Windows-based, English 2010 versions of Microsoft Excel and Access. You must use this software to complete the course. The student who does not have these versions of software on their own computer should check with Fuqua's Technical Support Center staff to find out how to obtain the software through Duke University. Or, complete the assignments using a Fuqua MBA lab or team room PC (but not a Ford Library computer). All assignment submissions must be in the Windows 2010 versions of Excel and Access and in the English language.

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Prerequisite Skills and Benefits to be Gained

There are no prerequisites for Information Management other than a strong general level of skill with Excel. However, this is a hands-on computing course. If you don't enjoy using computer software or feel some aptitude for it you'll find the course more of a challenge and will probably need to expend more time and effort than the student who does. If you have experience with computer programming you may find some of the concepts easier to grasp; however, the vast majority of the concepts covered in this course are not related to programming and programming experience will not create any significant advantage. If your last use of Excel was version 2003, you can expect to spend some extra time finding your way through 2010's radically different interface and its repackaging of some familiar features. A critical element in making intelligent use of MS Access is basic knowledge of the workings of a relational database. The student who has used Access in a superficial way but is not familiar with its underpinnings has almost as much to learn as the student who has never touched Access. Overall, the student who feels less capable and less familiar with Excel and/or Access than his or her classmates is likely to benefit more from the course than someone who is already an Office software star.  

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Organization

Assignments and Quizzes
The course is based around five major assignments and six online quizzes. The class meetings will match the sequence of topics as organized in the assignment instruction documents (PDF files). The assignment documents provide quite a bit of information about the tools each required task needs; however, the assignments are not intended to substitute for the demonstrations and discussions in the class meetings or for your own hands-on work at the computer . In many (if not most) cases, task answers (deliverables) are provided as part of the task descriptions. The point of a task is for you to go through the process to reach the given answer/create the deliverable and (in many cases) to understand how to reach the answer in the most efficient way. For each assignment you will have available to you one or more PDF files of instructions and requirements and the Excel or Access file or files you need. You will complete your work in the Excel and Access files and submit them for scoring by uploading them to the appropriate assignment location in this Sakai course environment. There are six quizzes: one pre-assignment quiz and five other quizzes, one associated with each assignment. All are online. More below.

Course Meetings and Attendance
The teaching method will consist of in-class lectures, demonstrations, and question/answer discussions. Attendance is highly recommended at the first hour of the first day of class. During that hour I will cover how the course works and answer any questions. You are required to complete an online (preassignment) quiz that reviews your understanding of  the material in the course syllabus. I certainly encourage you to attend all class meetings. Attendance is optional. If  you choose to attend, you may join EITHER the Tuesday/Friday 8:00 am meeting time OR the Tuesday/Friday 10:30 am meeting time, no  matter what your official section. We meet in the Sauer Classroom.

Personal Computers in Class
Many students like to bring their own computers to class meetings. I have no objection to this practice. However, if you bring your computer please do so with the understanding that the pace of the classroom sessions is NOT intended to facilitate "following along" in a tutorial fashion.

Maximizing your Classroom Experience
Listed below are my strong recommendations for the student unfamiliar with the material who wants to get the most out of the course sessions.

1. Review the assignment instruction file (the PDF file) before attending class. Note any particular areas you find especially interesting, or confusing.

2. Take a look at any PowerPoint files that may be available for the assignment before attending class. (I reserve the right to modify PowerPoint teaching materials up to our meeting time and occasionally in the class itself).

3. Download the required electronic files for the assignment (the Excel or Access files), make sure you have them located in a Microsoft Trusted Location on your computer, and that you can open them without problems.

4. While in class, attempt to remain in a focused and receptive frame of mind. Try to let techniques and processes sink in and watch the demonstrations without obsessing too much about small details and without attempting to duplicate the demos on your own computer, unless you are particularly adept. If you find the demos unclear, ask questions. Make notes.

5. Later, in a distraction-free setting, work on the assignment tasks yourself. Keep the PDF file, any available PowerPoint slides, and your own notes near at hand. You may find it reassuring to have a hefty printed (e.g., paper) Excel or Access reference guide or two nearby. Certainly you should have handy a list of your favorite online go-to Excel guru websites. I encourage you to check the Excel resource websites in my own Excel virtual library. If you have a question, post it to the Sakai Forum for the assignment on which you're working. Read any relevant existing posts. Feel free to confer with fellow students provided you follow the honor code for the class. Schedule your work sessions so you have time to get questions answered without last-minute deadline pressure.

Earning Points Toward a Grade
Grading is based on the points earned from the five major assignments along with points earned from the six online quizzes. Designated due dates/times for both the assignments and quizzes are significant and are described in more detail below. Two additional points can be earned if you choose to complete the end-of-term, anonymous, online Fuqua course evaluation.

Optional and Required Assignment Levels
Each assignment is designed with two parts, or levels. In order to pass the course, all students are required to complete all the tasks in an assignment that are designated as Level 1. Optional assignment tasks are designated as Level 2. Level 2 of each assignment requires learning and demonstrating some additional skills beyond those demonstrated by the completion of the corresponding Level 1 of an assignment. Some Level 2 tasks provide more in-depth coverage of material addressed in Level 1. Other Level 2 tasks may require demonstrating mastery of additional features of the software not addressed at all in Level 1. In general you can assume that Level 2 material will require more independent work than the material covered at length in Level 1. You may choose to complete some, none, or all of the tasks in the Level 2 parts of each assignment. 

Submitting Assignment Files
Assignment files are submitted by uploading them to the appropriate Assignment page in Sakai. I will score the last file you submit. Once an assignment file is scored, you cannot resubmit it for rescoring. Every assignment file is due at 11:59 pm on its due date.

Online Quizzes
The first quiz you take is part of the pre-assignment for this class and is a review of the material in this course syllabus. This quiz is required. The other five quizzes are optional. They're intended to reinforce (and in some cases may also extend) the topics covered in the assignments. Quiz questions are all intended to be straightforward. Please note that not every quiz question comes directly from the assignment documents. In order to answer some questions, you may need to experiment or do some research on your own. As you complete a quiz you're welcome to use notes, assignments, reference guides, your computer, and the like (but not other students or copies of other students' work) as aids. Feel free to contact the instructor for clarification of quiz questions. You do NOT have the opportunity to take a quiz after that quiz's due date and time. Every quiz is due at 11:59 pm on its due date. I recommend that you complete each quiz well before its deadline. There are no makeup quizzes.

Scoring Guide
Each assignment has a Scoring Guide that details how points are awarded for each task of an assignment. The Scoring Guide for each of the first three assignments will be available as a worksheet at the end of each Excel assignment file. The Scoring Guides for the two final Access assignments will be made available in separate, non-Access, document format. Some tasks are more interesting/complex/difficult and so have the potential to confer more points than other, less challenging tasks. As described above, you must complete all Level 1 tasks but whether you complete none, some, or all of the Level 2 tasks is entirely up to you. You need not use the Scoring Guides but some students find them convenient for checking their files before submission and/or planning how many and which Level 2 tasks to complete.

How Points Translate to Grades
The grade you earn in the course (detailed below) is based primarily on how much you learn to do with the software. Each task in both levels carries the point value described in the scoring guide. If you complete all Level 1 assignments and quizzes (60 X 5 + 20 X 6) with full credit and on time I guarantee you a P grade for the course. If you complete all Level 1 assignments and quizzes AND all Level 2 assignments (60 X 5 + 20 X 6 + 40 X 5), all with full credit and on time I guarantee you an SP grade for the course.*

At the end of the term I will assign grades on a curve to the points that fall between the guaranteed "P" and the guaranteed "SP" levels.


Duke MBA students: Please note that this is a different grading scheme from the one used in the core computer course scheduled in your Fall 1 term. In that course the points required for the SP, HP, P, LP, and F grades were all identified at the outset. This course guarantees only SP and P point levels with all other grades assigned based on a performance curve.

It is not possible to "skip" a Level 1 task or assignment and pass the course. That is, no amount of Level 2 work can compensate for not having completed all the Level 1 assignments. There is no opportunity for “extra” work to earn additional points. Assignments submitted past the designated day and time due are assessed a point penalty (more below). All assignments and quizzes are due at 11:59 pm on their due dates.

The six quizzes are available online on the days specified in the Schedule. Each quiz is open book, open computer, and open note. Work on the quizzes, like all other work in the course, is intended to be completed entirely on an individual basis. As mentioned above, do not assume that an assignment document covers all the material an associated quiz might include. Feel free to ask me for clarification about any quiz question before the quiz's due date. Remember: An assignment can be submitted late but a quiz cannot be submitted late.

A maximum of 20 points can be earned on a quiz. Quiz scores are included in the total score used to calculate the final grade. A quiz must be completed on or before the designated due day and time. Again, a quiz is unavailable after its due date and time. No "make up" quizzes are available.

An (almost effort-free) Additional Point Source
* In an effort to encourage participation in the end-of-term course evaluation, submission of an online course evaluation will be worth two bonus points. These points are over and above points earned on assignments and quizzes and are added to your final score total at the end of the term. If you want it all, these are the last two points you can earn; with them you can exceed the SP ceiling.

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Penalties for Assignment Late Submissions/No Late Quizzes

Late Assignments and Deductions
Five points will be deducted from the value of any assignment for each day the assignment is late. If you submit a Level I assignment one day late, five points are deducted from that assignment. If you submit both the Level 1 and Level 2 parts of an assignment one day late, five points are deducted from each of the levels submitted. If you submit late assignment file(s) please upload your work to the appropriate Sakai assignment space AND email me (paula dot ecklund @duke.edu) to let me know you've done so. If you neglect to take these steps you may miss the credit you deserve for your work.

The Quiz Availability Windows
As described above, the online quizzes are also subject to due dates and times. The quizzes are available only on the days specified in the calendar. It is not possible to make up a quiz and its points.

The Last-Minute "Server Crunch"
A technical note: Assignment and quiz due times are 11:59 pm EST. Duke's Sakai server computer clock is designated as the official clock for this class. Plan your work schedule so you don't find yourself prevented by last-minute technical difficulties from submitting assignments and quizzes.

Deadline Extensions
Extraordinary circumstances are required to earn an extension for deadlines and any extension must be arranged in advance with the instructor. If you feel you need an extension, be prepared to make a strong case for why the situation could not have been anticipated or avoided. I have an out-of-town golf tournament, I am going on an interview, or I'm sunning on the Cote d'Azur with an excellent novel in one hand and a frosty drink in the other and forgot to bring my computer with me to the beach are not appropriate reasons for an extension. I WAS out of town, I WENT on an interview or I JUST RETURNED from the Cote d'Azur and have a great novel to recommend are examples of post facto excuses that should simply be offered. On the other hand, I've been arrested and am in prison without either bail or internet connectivity and this is my one phone call or I've been rushed to an obscure New Jersey hospital and my case has been snapped up by a Dr. Gregory House and his team are examples of legitimate, if unfortunate, reasons for an extension. I have been asked to Washington D.C. as an expert witness at an international summit and am uncertain how long my presence there will be required would be another example of an appropriate reason to request an extension (and one for which I was pleased to grant an extension in a recent term).

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Scoring, Grading, and Appealing Scores

Each assignment required Level 1 is worth 60 points.
Each assignment optional Level 2 is worth 40 points.
Each of the quizzes (the first, syllabus review quiz and quizzes 1-5 associated with assignments 1-5) is worth 20 points.
Completion of the end-of-term Fuqua course evaluation is worth 2 bonus points. (NOTE: Completing the standard Fuqua course evaluation for this unusually-structured course sometimes is viewed as problematic. I suggest you to use your evaluation to comment on the quality and relevance of course materials and content and, if you attended classes, the instruction.)

A grade of "P" is guaranteed by earning at least 420 points and a grade of "SP" is guaranteed by earning 620 points. I will grade on a curve the work generating points that fall between the guaranteed "P" and the guaranteed "SP" levels.

How to Find Out Your Assignment Scores
Scores for each assignment will be available in Sakai soon as they're available. (Quiz scoring is the only automated part of this process. You will see the results of your quizzes immediately.) All the rest involves human labor. I may not receive section scores in tandem.)

What to Do if you Disagree with an Assignment Score
Once you receive a score for an assignment you're welcome to ask for a review if you disagree with how the published scoring guide was applied to your work. If you find yourself in that situation, follow these steps:

1. Review your submission against the Scoring Guide for that assignment. (You may be able to ascertain the reasons for deductions in this way.)
2. View the completed score worksheet uploaded to the Sakai page for your assignment.
3. In an email to me, write a short, specific description of what you believe was scored incorrectly and why.

I will be happy to consider your argument for a rescore and let you know the result. If while I'm reviewing your file I find work that was scored as correct is actually incorrect, I will make an appropriate adjustment to your score at the same time. Requests for rescoring for Assignments 1-4 must be submitted before the end of the term.

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The Honor Code

There is no graded group- or team-oriented work assigned in this course. All work is individual and each student is individually responsible for learning the material necessary to complete the required assignments (Level 1), optional work (Level 2), and quizzes. Learning to use software often requires a certain amount of trial and error. There are times when it may be unclear how to apply some feature of the software to complete an assignment.Talking with other students to gain clarification of concepts is a good way to learn. It is considered honorable in this course to help others and to ask for help in this way. However, some clarification of the Honor Code for this course may be required to help define what constitutes acceptable and unacceptable behavior when helping or being helped.

Copying any one else's work, or otherwise turning in someone else's work as your own is a clear violation of the Honor Code. Any assignment or quiz you submit must be entirely your own work. Assignments and quizzes you submit are considered to be evidence of skills you have learned and you must posses the underlying skills you are representing with your completed work. You may certainly assist other students by helping them understand the required skills. And, you may seek help in learning these skills from other students. You may not, however, do the work for another student or have the work done for you by simply showing or being shown the literal keystrokes required to perform a task. In addition to the prohibition on sharing work on assignments, you are prohibited from sharing quiz answers or circulating copies of a quiz to others, whether they're enrolled in the class or not.

The distinction between sharing help, such as explaining a concept to a fellow student, and showing him or her literally what is required to complete an assignment is important. If you receive help from someone, you should feel comfortable that you have learned the concepts and skills required to complete the assignment and that you could apply these concepts and skills in a similar context to solve a similar but different problem. If you give help to someone you should feel similarly comfortable about the level of instruction you offered. If you feel uncomfortable with the kind of help you are giving or receiving or anticipate receiving or giving, please do not hesitate to discuss the specifics of your situation with the instructor.

Bottom Line: Sharing assignment files or quiz answers is a clear and actionable violation of the Honor Code for this class.

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Time Commitment

The class meets twice a week for 2 1/4 hours each meeting. The guidelines for out-of-class preparation time for a course at Fuqua suggest that an average student will spend 2 hours outside of class for each hour in class. This means that you should expect to spend 8.5 hours per week out-of-class on assignments. Since this is a general guideline only, you would be correct to assume that the 8.5 hours per week is an average expenditure of time for a student with average aptitude and background seeking an average level of achievement. Some students will spend more or less time depending on their aptitude, previous learning, and how much they want to achieve. If you have little previous experience, a low aptitude and are seeking an SP in this course, you can naturally expect to put in more time than the average. If the opposite, less. As you plan your schedule also keep in mind that learning new software skills often requires time for trial and error as well as for managing the unexpected.

Although class attendance is not required, if you choose to attend a class meeting, please be prepared to stay for the entire first hour (before the break) and/or the entire second hour (after the break). Leaving a class in the middle of an hour is viewed as unmannerly and unprofessional unless you (or I) have an emergency or we have discussed your reason for early departure beforehand.

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Texts/Coursepack

There is no required textbook for this course. The coursepack equivalent for this course are the assignment files and notes on this site. The assignments for the course will be released online at the appropriate times during the term. Assignments are not available in advance of the dates indicated in the course Schedule. While PowerPoint notes may be available as an adjunct to the assignment documents, please consider the PDF document assignment instructions to be the "last word" on assignment task specifications. Do not complete assignments by following PowerPoint slides. If you encounter an ambiguous specification in an assignment task, don't hesitate to ask for clarification. Should you be interested in consulting and/or obtaining quality printed reference guides for the primary software used in the course, I recommend the following:

Microsoft Excel 2010 Bible
by John Walkenbach, Wiley Publishing, Inc., 2010
ISBN-13: 978-0-470-74787-7

Microsoft Access 2010 Inside Out
by Jeff Conrad and John Viescas, Microsoft Press, 2010
ISBN-13: 978-0735626850

   
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Schedule

The published course Schedule is generally accurate in terms of the schedule of lectures, the topics covered, optional quizzes, assignments available, and assignments and quizzes due. Note that assignments and quizzes are due by 11:59  pm on their due dates. Minor adjustments to the Schedule may be necessary depending on the pace of the classes. Assignment document files are available from the Sakai Resources page according to the dates indicated on the Schedule. Any supplementary material I may make available (such as the optional PowerPoint slides used in class meetings) will also be available from the Sakai Resources page. 

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Tools Used in Course Delivery

Announcements
I'll post information of general interest to the Sakai Announcements area of this website.

Schedule
The Schedule area of this website shows when assignments and quizzes are released, when their topics are addressed in class meetings, and when they're due.

Assignments
As mentioned above, all assignment files (PDFs, Excel, Access, etc.) are available for download from the Resources pages on this Sakai website. Upload your completed assignment files through using the Sakai Assignments pages. Assignments and quizzes are available according to the published Schedule and are due at 11:59 pm on their scheduled due date.

Forums
Five Forums (electronic bulletin boards) are available for this course and will be shared by both course sections. The Forums are for questions and answers about the course and the assignments. Any student may post a question (or an answer) to the Forums. I'll monitor the currently active Forum and make contributions, clarifications, etc. as appropriate. The five Forums are keyed to the five assignments in the course and are subdivided into threads corresponding to the assignment tasks. This subdivision is intended to more conveniently group discussion; you should not have to search around to find postings on the topic in which you have an interest. Each Forum will "open" on the day its corresponding assignment is distributed and "close" on the day its corresponding assignment is due. The "open" and "close" dates indicate a Forum's duration of currency. Please be clear in your mind from the start how the Forums are to be used and respect these distinctions when posting. When posting to a Forum, remember to post to the current Forum and to the appropriate pre-established thread on the Forum. I will not be reading postings made to non-current Forums. 


Electronic Mail
The Sakai Announcements and Forums will be our primary tools for extra-class communication. However, if any critical, time-sensitive, "all must know" information about the course needs your attention I'll make sure it reaches your Duke e-mail address. If you have a question about your grade, want to discuss a personal emergency, or have some other private issue to raise with me, feel free to see me in my office, call my office telephone number, or use e-mail . If you have a question about anything class-related that is public in nature, please post your question to whichever Forum is current so all members of the class can benefit from the exchange. In my experience practically any question you might have is likely to be shared by someone else in the class.

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Attendance

I encourage you to attend all class meetings of the course; however, grading is not in any way based on class attendance. It's my practice to provide one 10- to 15-minute break roughly in the middle of our meeting time. I encourage you to join the class at the beginning or at the break and depart at the break or at the end of class only. If you have a reason why you need to join or leave a class meeting at another time, please inform me before class begins.

Unless you want to be the "go to" person for any and all questions that arise during class I recommend you bring a name tent to each class meeting and display it. A name tent does not guarantee you will not be called upon, but does indicate your preference.

As mentioned above, the assignments themselves provide a great deal of information about the tools each task requires; however, the assignments are not intended to substitute for the demonstrations and discussions in the class meetings. Much happens in class that is directly relevant to the completion of assignments. Class meetings are composed of a mix of demonstrations, examples, discussions, and questions and answers. Aspects of the assignments may be clarified during in-class discussions and the use of tools demonstrated. You are individually responsible for all in-class material, whether written or discussed. Your absence from a class meeting does not absolve you from responsibility for the content of that meeting.

Our meetings will be held in the Sauer Classroom. No matter what your official section you may attend EITHER the Tuesday/Friday 8:00 am or the Tuesday/Friday 10:30 am class meeting. I plan to keep coverage across both sections synchronized.

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Goal

The course is intended to be primarily a hands-on survey of PC-based data management, analysis, and presentation software techniques and a 'jumping off' point for further exploration on your own. My hope is that you'll be able to employ the tools you explore in this class to enhance your work in the MBA program and in the workplace.


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