The Cameron university green website project part 1: service learning in the fall 2009.
Student involvement in service learning projects is becoming an accepted practice in university classrooms across the United States, benefitting all involved parties. Such benefits include: Instructors helping students transition theory into real-world practice, students experiencing real workplace scenarios, and students helping real clients obtain necessary business or organization goals at little or no financial cost to the clients (Learn and Serve America, n.d.; Nadel, Majewski, & Sullivan-Cosetti, 2007). While service learning is taking place across several academic disciplines, information systems service learning is of particular interest to the authors of this study. Computing education literature reflects the importance and mutual benefits of systems service learning projects as perceived by instructors, students, and business clients (Johnson & Johnson, 2005; Lenox, 2008; Preiser-Houy & Navarrete, 2006; Saulnier, 2005).
The use of teams is also a critical project success factor in industry. Problems can be solved with greater results in less time when using the combined talents of teams, as opposed to individuals working in a vacuum (Kozlowski & Ilgen, 2007). This has led to a natural progression of teamwork being promoted in information systems classrooms as well. When computing students are exposed to team environments, they gain a greater sense of what to expect in the business world. This in turn can make them more valuable to prospective employers (Kruk & Teer 2009; Napier & Johnson, 2007; Ugray, Hauser, & Olsen, 2008). Therefore, the authors of this study have also developed an interest in the combination of student service learning with student teams in information systems classroom projects.
The Department of Computing and Technology at Cameron University is experimenting with using capstone courses for student team systems development on real projects in a service learning capacity. The particular project described in this study is the initial development on a green website for Cameron University, as performed by the fall 2009 CIS 4063 capstone class. Items discussed include: (a) a background of what led to the formation of the project, (b) establishing student teams and rules, (c) a client interview, (d) construction and distribution of a campus-wide survey, (e) logical database modeling using the unified modeling language, (f) a final presentation, (g) problems encountered along the way, and (h) concluding remarks.
BACKGROUND OF THIS STUDY
In the fall of 2008, the President of Cameron University approached the Cameron Faculty Senate about investigating campus green and sustainability issues. The Faculty Senate formed an AdHoc committee, the Going Green Committee, for such purposes. One of the author's of this study, Dr. Mike Estep was a member of the Faculty Senate, and became a member of the Going Green Committee. Over the course of the fall 2008 and spring 2009 semesters, the Going Green Committee looked at several issues and made recommendations. One recommendation was the implementation of a Cameron green website. The Going Green Committee forwarded their recommendations to the Faculty Senate. The Faculty Senate approved the recommendations and forwarded them to the President of the university for further consideration.
In the fall of 2009, the President held a beginning-of-semester meeting with the campus faculty to discuss university issues relevant to all faculty. During this meeting, the President discussed prior recommendations suggested by the Going Green Committee that were considered and approved by Cameron administration. One of the approved recommendations was the future implementation of a Cameron green website, to be steered by the Going Green Committee. It was then that Dr. Estep considered involving students in the website development process from Cameron University senior capstone courses.
The use of involving capstone courses on such projects was not an original idea on the part of Dr. Estep. This idea had been implemented successfully in previous capstone courses by the author, Mr. Kenneth David Smith. Mr. Smith had promoted the idea of capstone students developing real projects in a service learning capacity for a number of semesters. Also, there is a growing movement in computing academia to promote the benefits of student service learning in systems and capstone courses (Alexander & Prior, 2009; Richmond, Banerjee, & White, 2008; Wei, Siow, & Burley, 2007). Mr. Smith made this come into fruition fully in the Department of Computing and Technology at Cameron University. In the spring 2009 semester, a website was developed for the Lawton High School Alumni Association (LHSAA, 2010). This site was created through the joint efforts of the MIS 4533 class (management information systems capstone taught by Mr. Smith - backend database), the CS 4203 class, (computer science capstone taught by the author Dr. Chao Zhao middleware), also with the help of students from the Multimedia Department (web page design).
In the fall of 2009, Dr. Estep was the instructor of CIS 4063, the computer information systems senior capstone course. This was the first semester that Dr. Estep was scheduled to teach the CIS capstone and he was interested in collaborating with Mr. Smith and Dr. Zhao on a combined capstone project. Therefore, after the Cameron President announced the approval of implementing a green website to the university faculty, Dr. Estep realized that he was not only the instructor of the capstone course, but also a member of the Going Green Committee. It then made sense to consider using capstone courses in a service learning capacity to develop a university green website. The Going Green Committee could accomplish the President's directive, and capstone students could work on a real project in a service learning capacity.
Dr. Estep visited with Mr. Smith and Dr. Zhao about the possibility of collaborative work on the green project. The authors agreed that the project would be worthwhile. Then Dr. Estep approached the Going Green Committee and suggested the use of the capstone courses for the development of the campus green website. The members of the committee also agreed the project was worth pursuing in this fashion. Therefore, the wheels were set into motion. The original intent was for the CIS 4063 capstone course to collect data and perform a logical analysis for the green website in the fall 2009 semester. In the spring 2010 semester, the MIS 4533 and CS 4203 capstone courses would then begin the design process.
STUDENT TEAMS AND RULES
At the beginning of the fall 2009 semester, the CIS 4063 instructor, Dr. Estep, discussed an overview of course expectations and service learning contributions to the Cameron University green website. The students were required to submit resumes. The resumes then had identity information removed. An independent objective party, not part of the class, selected the three with the best CIS credentials. These three people were then designated as team leaders. The team leaders were instructed to negotiate for the selection of teammates from the remaining anonymous resumes. Student identity information was not made available until teams were formed. This was done to ensure team leaders chose teammates objectively. After the teams were formed, each team was required to draft a team contract and establish rules for documentation of meetings and individual time worked on tasks.
Planned milestones were established to help keep the project on track. Throughout the semester, teams were assigned components of the website project to work on. Also, the three teams would meet together periodically to provide progress reports and feedback to each other and to the instructor using Joint Application Development (JAD) techniques. It is important to note that since Dr. Estep was a member of the Cameron University Going Green committee, he was also one of the clients. The above mentioned items are common to a team concept in systems design. Team collaboration is highly promoted in the computing degree programs at Cameron University. This is a reflection of what computing curriculum guideline committees and industry desire from computing graduates (Woodward, Sendall, & Ceccucci, 2010; Topi, et al., 2010).
A few weeks into the semester, an initial meeting was held with the CIS 4063 class and an important client, the Chair of the Going Green committee. The students were required to dress appropriately, and come up with potential system questions to ask the client concerning aspects of a green website for the university. A dialogue was established in order to determine client requirements, and the CIS 4063 students' abilities to meet those requirements. Several items were documented and reiterated to the client a few days later to ensure accuracy (see Figure 1) Initial meetings between clients and developers are always important in establishing cordial communications and determining correct system requirements (Shelly & Rosenblatt, 2010; Schwalbe,2010; Van Horn, Schwarzkopf, & Price, 2006).
Once some initial guidelines were established, the students put together an anonymous survey to poll campus administration/staff, faculty, and students concerning what they would like to see in a Cameron University green website. It was decided that the most efficient way to create the survey was through a link to a web-based interface, distributed by campus email. The survey contained 14 statements asking for a response on a Likert scale, with 5 choices ranging from Strongly Disagree to Strongly Agree. The survey also contained two text fields with questions asking for possible green website names and other comments. The participants did not see survey results. This information was only available to the CIS 4063 class.
Participant information was displayed by affiliation, percent, and count. Likert scale responses were displayed by percent and count. Text field responses were displayed by participant number, typed response, and date entered. The survey was designed to be brief, easy to read, and easy to understand in order to entice participation. There were 97 responses to the survey over a few-week period in the fall 2009 semester. Survey information is displayed in Figure 2 below. Only the first 5 responses to the text field questions are shown here to keep the figure brief.
This survey followed a convenience sample design, which can lack in validity. However, sometimes such survey designs are necessary in systems analysis due to limited time and resource constraints (Gay, Mills, & Airasian, 2008; Shelly & Rosenblatt, 2010; Van Horn, Schwarzkopf, & Price, 2006). The purpose of this survey was to obtain a general idea of what administration/staff, faculty, and students would like to see in a Cameron green website. In as such, it served the purposes for which it was designed.
Information from the client interview and campus survey was used as a starting place for a logical analysis of database components. The spring 2010 MIS and CS capstone classes would later select the specific computing language components for design. Therefore, the fall 2009 CIS capstone students chose a unified modeling language (UML) approach to develop logical models. The use of UML would not be restrictive to any particular language choices, thereby allowing the future classes design flexibility (Van Horn, Schwarzkopf, & Price, 2006). Three common database components were mentioned from the interview and survey: (a) newsletter registration, (b) message board, and (c) search engine. Three UML diagrams were created for each component: (a) class diagrams, (b) scenarios, and (c) use case diagrams. Class diagrams are similar in structure to database entity relationship diagrams, showing attributes and actions. Scenarios describe how users would interact with a database. Use case diagrams are a visual aid corresponding with a given scenario. Figures 3-5 below show the UML diagrams that were created for a newsletter registration database. This is followed by Figure 6, giving an example prototype webpage form to populate the newsletter registration database.
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At the end of the fall 2009 semester, the CIS 4063 students gave a final presentation to the clients-displaying results, making recommendations, and asking for feedback. Each of the three teams chose a spokesperson to present separate team tasks that were deployed. However, discussion was to be open for any team member to add input to the presentation as needed. A practice run took place a few days prior to the actual presentation. On the night of the presentation, the students were required to dress appropriately and arrive early to have plenty of time to prepare. Good presentation skills are also desired or required of computing students seeking industry employment (Topi, et al., 2010; Shelly & Rosenblatt, 2010; Schwalbe, 2010). Therefore, it is common for Cameron University computing students to be required to participate in presentations.
On the first day of class for the fall 2009 semester, Dr. Estep met with the CIS 4063 students and discussed how the class would begin working on interviews and logical system design for the website. It was shortly after this class meeting that the first major hurdle in the project took place. Before the second class meeting, Dr Estep developed a life-threatening health issue which caused his unavailability to work until the middle of the semester. Under emergency circumstances for the first 8 weeks, the class was team taught by the previously mentioned authors Mr. Smith, Dr. Zhao, and also by the author Mr. Tom Russell (a fellow CIS colleague). After that, Dr. Estep's health had returned enough for him to finish working with the class for the remainder of the semester. This caused some confusion for the students, as well as the instructors, on how to proceed with the class and the development of the Cameron University green website. There were also some issues with a university reassignment of members of the Going Green Committee, including the temporary reassignment of the Committee Chair for several weeks. This overlapped simultaneously with the absence of Dr. Estep. Until Dr. Estep returned to work, there was confusion on who would be the client contact person. Fortunately, Dr. Estep and the Committee Chair were able to resume their positions and minimize project delays.
A few days before the final presentation, the CIS 4063 students discovered that additional clients from diverse administrative positions at Cameron University were to become involved in the project. These clients also attended the final presentation and voiced concerns or comments about their role as clients. There would have to be changes made to the initial systems requirements. However, since it was the end of the semester, any changes would have to be dealt with by the MIS and CS capstone classes in the spring 2010 continuation of the project.
While problems like these can be frustrating and cause project delays, they are a true representation of what can occur during systems and project development (Napier & Johnson, 2007; Saulnier, 2005).
This study described how the Department of Computing and Technology at Cameron University is experimenting with using capstone courses for student team systems development on real projects in a service learning capacity. The particular project discussed was the initial development on a green website for Cameron University, as performed by the fall 2009 CIS 4063 capstone class. Issues discussed in this study included: (a) a background of what led to the formation of the project, (b) establishment of student teams and rules, (c) a client interview, (d) construction and distribution of a campus-wide survey, (e) logical database modeling using UML, (f) a final presentation, and (g) problems that were encountered along the way.
After participation in this effort, and from previous experience, the authors believe that the use of Cameron University capstone computing classes in a service learning capacity is beneficial to all involved parties. Students develop real systems and team skills, encounter real project problems, and learn to address the needs of real clients. It is possible that the authors' work at Cameron University could serve as model for other university systems capstone courses.
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About the Authors:
Mike Estep is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Computing and Technology at Cameron University in Lawton, Ok, where he teaches MIS and CIS courses. Dr. Estep received a B.A. in Music Education and an M.T. in Computer Science from Southeastern Oklahoma State University. He received an Ed.S. and Ph.D. in Computing Technology in Education from the Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences at NSU. Dr. Estep has earned post-doctoral hours in IS. His research interests are in computer science and information systems education, learning theory, computerhuman interaction, and distance education. Dr. Estep is also an expert in aspects of commercial music education, performance, and technologies.
Kenneth David Smith (Dave) was born in Mangum, Oklahoma. He served 20 years in the active army, retiring in 2000 with the rank of Major. Dave started teaching at Cameron University that same year as an Instructor in Management Information Systems with the School of Business. In 2006, he and the entire MIS team moved to the Department of Computing and Technology. Dave was instrumental in developing the MIS program and developed many of the courses currently taught in the MIS specialization. He currently teaches Database Management, SQL, Management Information Systems, Applied Problems in MIS, Advanced Business Applications, and Production Planning. Dave also manages his own farm in Greer County and is an avid horseman.
Chao Zhao is an Associate Professor with tenure in the Department of Computing and Technology at Cameron University in Lawton, Ok where he teaches Data Structures, Network Programming, Parallel Computing, Operating Systems, Software Engineering, and Server Side Programming. He received a B.S. in Biology from the Liaoning University in China. He received an M.S. in Computer Science and Biology and an Ed.D. in Higher Education from Texas A&M University-Commerce. He has also earned post-doctoral hours in Computer Science from the University of Oklahoma. His research interests are in Parallel Computing, Operating Systems, Data Communication, and Software Engineering.
Thomas Russell is an Associate Professor in the Department of Computing and Technology at Cameron University in Lawton, Oklahoma where he teaches CIS and Technology courses. Mr. Russell received an A.S. in Data Processing and a B.S. in Business Administration from Cameron University. He received an M.S. in Computer Science from Midwestern State University. Mr. Russell's industrial experience includes 15 years in the Computer Services division of Cameron University, having served as Director for five years. Mr. Russell is currently in his 25th year as a full-time faculty member, and served as Computing and Technology Department Chair for 10 years. He also holds CDP national certification through the Institute for Certification of Computer Professionals.
Kenneth David Smith
Cameron University, Lawton
Figure 1 CIS 4063 Memo to the Going Green Committee Chair Introduction: This memorandum is intended to summarize the requirements for the creation of a website for the Going Green Committee at Cameron University. On September 16, 2009, you visited with our class to discuss the Going Green project. During the interview, you provided the CIS Capstone class with vital information to commence the initial analysis of a functional and professional website and database for the Going Green Committee. As a result of the interview, this is our understanding of what is requested of us ... Background: The Going Green Committee wishes to have a website published that will help users find ways to conserve energy, as well as inform them of ways Cameron University is contributing to the cause. The website will be easily accessible from the main Cameron site though a hyperlink. The website will need to have the ability to easily grow and expand to fit a larger community in the future. Audience: Students, faculty, and community Purpose/Goals: The purpose of the green website is to educate and inform users how to conserve energy and be eco-friendly at Cameron University and in the surrounding community. At a minimum the website should include: 1. Ideas on ways that people can conserve energy: (a) turn off lights, (b) use energy efficient lights, (c) recycle, (d) solar heat, (e) wind energy, and (f) reduce paper use 2. What Cameron is doing in regards to conserving energy: (a) planting a community garden, (b) planting native plants around the campus, and (c) using energy efficient lights 3. News and events that have a green theme: (a) guest speakers, (b) information on global warming, (c) articles and research [organic], and (d) community green events 4. Information on campus recycling: (a) location of recycling centers [Fort Sill], and (b) collections points for recycling 5. Grant information 6. Links: (a) page for Cameron University President, (b) student organizations, (c) National Geographic, and (d) links to other green websites 7. Hit Counter 8. Database containing visitor information Other possibilities for the website include: 1. Blogs 2. Flash games 3. Current statistics a. Money saved as a result of going green b. Energy conserved 4. Surveys/questionnaires Roles and Responsibilities: Systems analysts will be responsible for gathering information from the committee to lay the foundation for the production and creation of the going green website. The Going Green Committee will be responsible for providing adequate information to systems analysts, who will produce a product that meets the standards of Cameron University. Recommendations: During the interview, you stated that the Going Green Committee would maintain the website. It is recommended that a web master be appointed to maintain the site. Committee Mission/Charge Statement: At the time of the interview, you stated that there was no committee mission/charge statement available. You affirmed that a mission/charge statement would be provided immediately after your next committee meeting. Figure 2 CIS 4063 Cameron University Going Green Survey The following statements will be used to help in the construction of a "Green" website for Cameron University. Please complete this anonymous survey as thoughtfully as possible (app. 5 minutes). My Cameron University affiliation is... Affiliation Percent Count Administration/Staff 39% 38 Faculty 20% 19 Student 41% 40 Total 100% 97 Survey Questions Question Strongly Disagree No Disagree Opinion 1. Having access 3% (3) 2% (2) 3% (3) to "Green" tips/ facts could help me to make conservative decisions. 2. I would like 3% (3) 3% (3) 37% (36) to see carbon footprint info on this website. 3. I would like 2% (2) 2% (2) 6% (6) to see energy conservation info on this website. 4. I would like 2% (2) 1% (1) 15% (15) to see alterna- tive energy info on this website. 5. I would like 2% (2) 1% (1) 22% (22) to see sustaina- bility info on this website. 6. I would like 2% (2) 1% (1) 0% (0) to see recycling info on this website. 7. I would like 4% (4) 7% (7) 26% (25) to see organic foods info on this website. 8. I would like 2% (2) 1% (1) 21% (21) to see info about the Cameron Univer- sity community garden plots on this website. 9. I would like 2% (2) 1% (1) 9% (9) to see info on campus environ- mental activi- ties/ competitions on this website. 10. I would be 15% (15) 21% (20) 29% (28) likely to use short inter- active games on this website. 11. I would like 6% (6) 13% (13) 26% (25) the opportunity to sign up for a newsletter/email from this website. 12. I would like 5% (5) 7% (7) 26% (25) to see a blog or message board on this website. 13. I would like 2% (2) 1% (1) 11% (11) to be able to search this website. 14. I would like 2% (2) 1% (1) 9% (9) to see "Green" events/news on multiple levels (local, state, national, etc.). Survey Questions Question Agree Strongly Agree 1. Having access 56% (54) 36% (35) to "Green" tips/ facts could help me to make conservative decisions. 2. I would like 42% (41) 15% (15) to see carbon footprint info on this website. 3. I would like 55% (54) 35% (34) to see energy conservation info on this website. 4. I would like 56% (55) 26% (25) to see alterna- tive energy info on this website. 5. I would like 49% (48) 26% (25) to see sustaina- bility info on this website. 6. I would like 34% (33) 63% (62) to see recycling info on this website. 7. I would like 38% (37) 26% (25) to see organic foods info on this website. 8. I would like 40% (39) 36% (35) to see info about the Cameron Univer- sity community garden plots on this website. 9. I would like 48% (47) 40% (39) to see info on campus environ- mental activi- ties/ competitions on this website. 10. I would be 27% (26) 8% (8) likely to use short inter- active games on this website. 11. I would like 43% (42) 12% (12) the opportunity to sign up for a newsletter/email from this website. 12. I would like 43% (42) 19% (18) to see a blog or message board on this website. 13. I would like 49% (48) 36% (35) to be able to search this website. 14. I would like 49% (48) 39% (38) to see "Green" events/news on multiple levels (local, state, national, etc.). # Response Date 1 News from the Black, Gold, and Green! 12/16/09 2 Black, Gold ... and Green 12/3/09 3 11/24/09 4 Green Aggies 11/23/09 5 11/17/09 1 Well, for starters--how are we going 12/16/09 to start recycling when there are no easily accessible recycling bins? I wouldn't release the website until we have an active way to participate besides just clicking on a computer to learn about being environmentally conscientious. It will lose steam if it is released prior to being able to be actively involved (Yes, I know that there are paper recycle bins in the Chem dept and one little can container). It must appear fun, and competitions are a great way to involve the "harder to reach" folks. I'm glad that Cameron is finally making a move in the "green" direction! 2 12/03/09 3 11/24/09 4 11/23/09 5 11/17/09 Figure 4 CIS 4063 Newsletter Registration Scenario Precondition: Internet and browser access. Trigger: User types in URL address or selects link to go to newsletter registration form. Main Success Scenario 1. User enters email address (required). 2. User clicks submit. 3. System sends user confirmation. 4. System assigns registration ID. 5. System archives email address. 6. Webmaster emails monthly newsletter to user. Extensions 3a. User enters invalid email address. 1. System displays "Invalid email address, please re-enter" in webpage. 2. User returns to Main Success Scenario step 1. 3b. User enters valid email address. 1. System displays "CU Green newsletter registration successful" in webpage. 2. System populates email address field with user email address. 3. System populates email subject field with "CU Green Newsletter." 4. System populates email text field with "CU Green newsletter registration successful." 5. System sends confirmed registration email.
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|Author:||Estep, Mike; Smith, Kenneth David; Zhao, Chao; Russell, Tom|
|Publication:||International Journal of Education Research (IJER)|
|Date:||Jun 22, 2010|
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