Last year, the MIS department began previewing several redesigned courses, and this fall the new curriculum has been officially rolled out in full. The introductory course, Digital Systems, teaches basic programming skills to all business students, regardless of major. It’s a new approach that will give Fox students a competitive edge after graduation.
“There’s been a push that MBAs should know how to code, and we’re bringing that thinking to our undergradates,” says David Schuff, Professor and Chair of the Department of Management Information Systems. “Some other business school programs start with basic computer literacy, but we’re asking, ‘What’s the next generation of tools and skills?’”
Digital Systems provides an overview of how businesses use technology in today’s economy. The first two-thirds of the course help students get a grasp of the big ideas in an active learning environment. Through hands-on, in-class assignments, students practice applying the concepts they’re learning, including programming.
“It represents a shift from a project-management focus to a product-management focus,” says Schuff.
“In the past, coding assignments taught concepts without putting the business perspective on it,” says Sclarow. “Our approach uses an overarching narrative throughout the course to help students see how it relates to them and digital product management,” he says.
The prospect can be daunting for some students, especially outside MIS, but completing the project gives them not only important new skills, but also confidence. And for MIS students, this introduction prepares them expertly for what’s to come: more advanced courses on API-based software development, user experience, and cybersecurity.
“The new Digital Systems course is the latest example of how Temple’s MIS department prepares students for the workforce,” says Bruce Fadem, chair of the IT Advisory Board and retired VP and CIO of Wyeth.
“All business students are going to encounter digital systems, no matter what job they have,” says Sclarow. And Schuff emphasizes this point: “If you’re in accounting or finance, you might have a need to do process automation. In marketing, you might need to manipulate data to do analyses. Programming is becoming an essential tool to do these things yourself.”