Anthology of an Online BS IT Program

Many colleges and universities offer online degree programs and claim that learners often complete those programs in two years. Those claims are based on the learner's having completed the general education requirements for the degree prior to entering the program. So what do these programs entail? The catalogs often specify the classes for the specialization portion of the degree program.

The author earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Information Technology (BS IT) from the University of Phoenix in 2007. This anthology relates the specific classes for the general BS IT degree with no specialization from the University of Phoenix as completed in 2007.

Note: Specific courses and course numbers may have changed but the content of the degree program as laid out here should remain relevant. This anthology presents the courses and requirements from the 2005 catalog and the author's transcript. Specific content for courses are also included. This content is meant to be used as an example by learners, not as the basis for plagiarism.

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Course Titles and Descriptions

Gen-300 - Skills for Professional Development

The GEN300 course challenges the learner to re-enter the formal educational environment. The focus of the course is writing. The University of Phoenix adopted the American Psychological Association (APA) format for all formal writing assignments. Learners apply formatting techniques from the APA Publication Manual and develop the skills to apply proper grammar from the Gregg Manual .

CSS-330: Critical Thinking and Computer Logic

Critical thinking is the ability to see through rhetoric to discover the true meaning and direction of arguments. Learners in the CSS330 course apply the definitions of logical fallacies to dissect arguments and discover the true meaning.

CIS-319: Computers and Information Processing

For those with little computer experience, CIS319 introduces the components of computers and the basic concepts if information processing.

BSA-375: Fundamentals of Business System Development

Fundamentals of Business System Development is an introductory course in System Analysis and Design. The course introduces the methods, tools, and diagrams of system analysis and takes the learner through the System Development Life Cycle (SDLC) process.

CMGT-410: Project Planning and Implementation

The course in Project Planning and Implementation introduces the learner to the concepts of Project Management. Learners develop project plans using Microsoft Project and learn to coordinate project schedules using Gantt charts and Network Diagrams .

POS-370: Programming Concepts

Programming Concepts introduces learners to the basics of computer programming using the C -programming language as an example. Learners develop understanding of programming structures and many of the assignments entail writing, compiling, and running programs in C .

POS-406: Computer Programming I

Building upon the concepts learned in Programming Concepts , Computer Programming I leads learners to increase their competence in computer programming using the Java programming language.

POS-407: Computer Programming II

Building on the concepts learned in Computer Programming I, Computer Programming II continues the journey to develop programming competence using Java. learners refine the skills to develop Object Oriented Programs (OOP).

DBM-380: Database Concepts

Developing database systems using Microsoft Access is the focus of Database Concepts. Learners discover the basic concepts of relational databases.

DBM-405: Database Management Systems

Database Management Systems ads to the concepts learned in Database Concepts and leads the learner to further understand the Structured Query Language (SQL)

POS-410: SQL For Business

In SQL For Business, learners install working versions of Microsoft SQL Server on the home-computers and develop the skills to install and manage and configure a database management system in a SQL environment. Learners continue to develop databases with SQL.

NTC-360: Network and Telecommunications Concepts

In today's business world, few computers stand on their own but must communicate with other computers to add to the productive environment of business. The Network and Telecommunications course builds an introductory level of network understanding in learners.

NTC-410: Networks and Telecommunications II

Advanced networking topics, such as routing, switching, and the use of firewalls are added to the understanding gained from the first networking course in Networks and Telecommunications II.

POS-420: Introduction to UNIX

UNIX was the original NOS and Linux is a scaled down version of UNIX. Linux administrators are in high demand and the Introduction to UNIX course introduces learners to the UNIX system using Knopix (a version of Linux that runs from a CD) as a guide.

POS-427: Windows Networking

Windows Networking leads learners to understand the concepts of Network Operating Systems (NOS) using the Windows Server platform. The intricacies of the client-server relationship are explored using a running version of Windows Server .

WEB-410: Web Programming I

Learners in Web Programming I develop the skills to create web sites using the Hyper Text Markup Language (HTML). Starting with basic design and prototyping tools, learners develop functional web sites.

WEB-420: Web Programming II

Continuing from the basics of Web Programming I, learners develop the skills to develop dynamic interactive web pages using JavaScript as client-side scripting language and PhP as a server-side scripting language.

POS-440: Introduction to C++

C++ is a fourth generation programming language similar to Java but more prevelant in a Microsoft environment. Learners learn to develop, compile, and run programs in C++ in the Introduction to C++ course.

EBUS-405: E Business Technologies

Information Technology is one of many tools available that organizations use to conduct business. E Business technologies have been around since the development of wire-transfers and ATM machines. Learners in the E Business Technologies learn haw to empower businesses to conduct business online.

GEN-480: Interdisciplinary Capstone Course

The final course in the University of Phoenix BS IT degree program is the Interdisciplinary Capstone course. Learners choose a specified number of previous courses to develop projects that demonstrate their successful learning of the concepts presented during their involvement in the program.


Course Numbering Systems

Notice that the preceding course numbers all begin with either 3 or 4. These numbers respectively indicate third and fourth year courses. Most Baccalaureate programs offered by colleges and universities in the US provide a learner the ability to complete the first two years of a degree program before the learner decides on a major course of study.

First-year and second-year courses are typically dedicated to fulfilling the general education requirements necessary to achieve any degree at the Baccalaureate level. The core courses for a program begin with the third-year courses. This is why online programs often only include the third and fourth-year courses; the learner is expected to have completed the general education requirements prior to entering a major program of study.

Online Learner Infant Mortality

Before entering an online program a learner must make a real commitment to perform the necessary course tasks. An online environment is often accelerated so there is more work to do in a shorter time-frame than what is involved in a brick-and-mortar environment.

When the author undertook an online undergraduate IT program the workload was unbelievable for the first five classes. The author's day consisted of getting up in the morning, eating, studying, going to work, studying more after work, eating, studying some more after dinner, then going to bed and starting over the next day. This regimen continued through the work week. On weekends, the going to work part was eliminated from the regimen.

The class rosters during the first five classes started with 14 to 24 students in a class but by the end of the class about half of the students dropped out. After around the fifth class the number of dropouts lowered as students learned what was involved and committed themselves to the program

Self-discipline is the most important characteristic for an online learner.

Program Duration

The BS IT program was an accelerated program. Courses lasted five weeks each with no breaks between classes. One class would end on a Tuesday and the next scheduled class started the Wednesday immediately following. There was a break each year at Christmas time, so the program took just over two years to complete.

Note: The course titles above reflect third and fourth year classes, which comprise the core portion, in this case Information Technology (IT), of a program. The first two years of a BS program comprise general education requirements. These general education requirements may be completed by the learner either before entering the program or while progressing through the program but must be completed before program completion.

If the learner had not completed the general education requirements before completing the core requirements then extra classes were added to the program to make up for the deficiency. Most four-year colleges and universities accept credit for prior learning or credit for passing College Level Examination Program (CLEP) tests. This particular program entailed 60 credits of general education for a program credit total of 120 credit hours.

Method of Study

Every class the author completed in the pursuit of the BS IT degree included four main study components. Those study components were weekly reading assignments, weekly individual writing assignments, class discussions, and a final group project.

The University of Phoenix promoted a collaborative learning environment so the final group project weighed highly on the final grade for each course. Depending on the professor, the group projects comprised from 25% to 50% of an individual's final grade for a course. Therefore, an individual learner's success in a course was directly related to that learner's ability to collaborate with a team. Each team-member evaluated the performance of the other team-members at the completion of a course and many of the professors took those evaluations into consideration when assigning final grades.

Discussion questions were a regular part of the curriculum and every week a learner must participate in discussions. Attendance was mandatory and calculated by the number of posts a learner submitted to the course-room each week. The number of posts to complete the attendance requirements was minimal but ungraded. However, participating in weekly discussions was an entirely different matter. Initial responses to weekly discussion questions and responses to other learners were graded activities.

The initial response or answer to a discussion question had to be a minimum of three hundred to five hundred words in length, depending on the professor. The questions were formed as research questions and learners were required to provide references and in-text citations to support their positions. Most professors required at least two references for a an initial response to a discussion question. Learners were fairly free to discern the quality of the referenced sources; the requirements did not state that a learner provide sources from academic journals. That is, however, a requirement in many graduate school degree programs.

Learners were also required to respond to the initial responses posed by other learners to discussion questions. Those responses must be substantive in nature and comprise a minimum of 150 words. The requirement specified that a learner respond to from two to four posts from other learners, depending on the professor. Learners were not required to provide references or in-text citations for responses to the posts of other learners.

Updated September 18, 2011.

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