Operating Systems and Network Administration Course

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The Role of Operating Systems and Network Administration in the IS Curriculum D. Robert Adams and Carl Erickson Grand Valley State University Department of Computer Science and Information Systems Allendale, MI 49401 USA Abstract The reliance by companies of all sizes on information technology creates strong demand for system and network administration jobs. Information System majors will increasingly find themselves with opportunities and responsibilities in these areas. However, teaching operating systems and networking to information systems major presents many challenges. We have developed a model for teaching these topics to information systems majors in the context of operating system and network administration. This paper describes our model, the lecture materials used, and a novel lab configuration. Keywords: administration, education, operating systems, networking 1. INTRODUCTION Networks of computers are the model for business information infrastructures today. Gone are the days of a single mainframe machine with terminals attached to it. Today, a business' information infrastructure consists of one or more servers that communicate with tens, hundreds, and even thousands of clients, and the explosive growth of networks drives an increasing demand for network administrators. Exceptional growth in IT jobs, including network and system administration, is widely expected to continue for the foreseeable future. Reports from the Commerce Department cite a shortage of high tech workers. The White House has recently created training programs to address the shortage. While some organizations and researchers dispute the extent of a shortage, it is widely agreed even by critics of such studies that new IT jobs are being created very rapidly. As information technology becomes ubiquitous, and even very small companies rely on it for their daily operation, the skills of system and network administration become more in demand, and more vital. More and more IS majors may find their future job responsibilities including some system administration duties, even if they are not hired strictly in that role. A network administrator is a manager: not of people but of computing resources. A network administrator is responsible for installing new hardware and software, creating and managing user accounts, installing and maintaining print services, ensuring that the network is running smoothly and that the computers are communicating efficiently, verifying the integrity (security) of the network, handling user complaints, and so forth. Traditionally, the role of network administrator has been filled by computer science (CS) graduates, but not because they receive special training for that position. Network administration lacks a traditional academic home - you will rarely find a network administration course at a college or university.
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