LBSC 690 - Information Technology - Spring 2012 - Syllabus

Course objectives

We will be covering the core technologies of the contemporary digital age, particularly those of the internet. The goal is for students to:

  1. Understand how the systems they use and manage everyday work under the surface.
  2. Advise, inform public awareness, and guide policy on topics that require a technical understanding.
  3. Develop the confidence and competence in dealing with technicians, consultants, and vendors, that such an understanding fosters.
  4. Be able to perform basic or emergency system development, extension, and fault diagnosis.

We will learn how information is represented on the computer, and accessed and routed through the internet. We will learn how to build websites from the ground up, coding directly in HTML, paying careful attention to principles of good code design, including the use of CSS. We will gain familiarity with the representation, storage, and retrieval of information in databases. We will learn basic web programming in Javascript. Combining these elements together, we will learn the architecture of a web information system.


Class readings will be taken from freely available online sources. In addition, there are two recommended textbooks; students should consider buying one of these two (but probably not both).

  1. "Discovering Computers 2011, Complete: Living in a Digital World", by Shelly and Vermaat (ISBN: 978-1439079263). This text offers general background material, in a verbose, picture-heavy format, cover a wide range of subtopics. It costs $129 retail.
  2. "D is Digital", by Brian W. Kernighan (ISBN: 978-1463733896) covers much of the same material as "Discovering Computers", but more concisely, and with more focus on technical matters (though still presented in an approachable manner. This text costs $15 retail.
Readings will be provided from both of these textbooks. If you're unsure which one to get, then come to the first class before making the decision.

Expectations of students

Students are expected to spend twelve hours a week on the subject: three of them in class, nine of them outside. Students should read all assigned readings before each class, and come prepared to discuss and ask questions about them. Students may find it helpful to bring an internet-connected laptop to class, though this is not required.

Homework, exams, projects

Most weeks, there will be a homework assignment, exercising some of the skills covered during the preceding class. This assignment is due before the start of the following class.

There will be a mid-term and a final exam. The mid-term exam will be a take-home exam. The final exam will be done in class.

There is a single term project. The project will involve developing a web site. The project will be undertaken in teams. Each team will demonstrate and explain the site to the instructor. The project will be assessed based on the design and implementation of the site and the quality of the presentation.

Exam and project dates to be announced.


Course grades are divided amongst course components as follows:

Component Percentage Computation
Midterm and Final 35% Best=25%, the other=10%
Term Project 40% Online use and viva voce presentation
Homework 15% 3% each for best 5
Participation 10% class, mailing list, project team

Academic integrity

The University of Maryland, College Park has a nationally recognized Code of Academic Integrity, administered by the Student Honor Council. This Code sets standards for academic integrity at Maryland for all undergraduate and graduate students. As a student you are responsible for upholding these standards for this course. It is very important for you to be aware of the consequences of cheating, fabrication, facilitation, and plagiarism. For more information on the Code of Academic Integrity or the Student Honor Council, please visit

Last modified: 2012.02.28