Recently, I sat down with TEL Library’s Chief Librarian, Stacy Zemke, to get her thoughts on our Computer Systems and Technology course and what makes it so versatile. Stacy formerly served as the OER Librarian at the University of Oklahoma and has taught courses such as Information & Communication Technology, Information Technology Management, and Design & Implementation of Web-based Information Services. She also serves as the principal course designer and subject matter expert for TEL Library’s Computer Systems and Technology product.
Below are excerpts from our conversation.
Rob: I know you spent quite a bit of time designing our course in Computer Systems and Technology. You wanted it to be versatile and applicable to a wide range of users.
Stacy: That’s right. Our Computer Systems and Technology product is the computer science course that everyone needs. It introduces the foundational concepts behind how computers work (hardware and software), the Internet, web pages and web applications, and databases. We also cover productivity software for and have students begin coding and creating small projects.
Rob: Many institutions and faculty are looking for hands-on computer literacy courses. Will this product work for them?
Stacy: Absolutely. We help students understand how computing systems function but, more importantly, we teach them how they can harness technology for their own use. As students gain an understanding of computing basics, they can make more informed decisions about the technology in their everyday lives. They can understand and respond to technologies and technological issues related to privacy, health, and finance.
Rob: I know Business and MIS departments want their students to have advanced skills with applications such as Excel, as well as a good understanding of databases. Does the TEL Library course provide this?
Stacy: Yes. Again, we begin by providing a theoretical foundation so that students have a solid context for practical application work. We then introduce them to hands-on projects that have them building and managing data and manipulating information with different digital technologies. In the course, students practice with spreadsheets, visualization software, databases, and coding.
Rob: Okay, so let’s talk about coding. What type of instruction does the Computer Systems and Technology course provide for coding?
Stacy: Our goal for the course is to give students a basic understanding of how coding works. We feel it’s important to grasp the core logic, statement types, and functions that drive computing. Students in our course make their own coding projects, with a focus on building a foundation that can be applied as they move into more advanced coding in other courses.
Rob: What are some basic ideas that are woven into the course?
Stacy: I think it’s important for students to realize that everyone can be a creator or maker and that computing technologies provide amazing tools for creation. are a great way to become creators and builders. If we give students an understanding of what is “under the hood,” they’ll feel empowered to be more than simple users of technology. In our connected, technology-driven world, every decision we make about our online lives -- about banking, social networks, sharing information -- has the potential to impact us profoundly. In this new world, we all need stronger information, technology, and computing literacy skills.