IBM and The University of Arizona Bring Web 2.0 and Social Networking to the Classroom

Curriculum Designed to Attract Computer Science Students, Build Advanced Skills for Next Wave of IT Jobs

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ARMONK, NY - 19 Oct 2006: IBM (NYSE: IBM) and The University of Arizona today announced a new collaborative initiative to develop a course aimed at helping developers build online communities and social network systems using Web 2.0 technologies. The curriculum, which is designed to equip students with skills in the creation and management of online communities, will be offered to the Management Information Systems Department (MIS) and Marketing students in The University of Arizona's Eller College of Management.

The analyst firm Gartner Group predicts that by 2008, the majority of Global 1,000 companies will quickly adopt several technology-related aspects of Web 2.0 to advance their businesses. As companies increase their reliance on new Web-based technologies to capitalize on new business opportunities, the industry is showing greater demand for technology experts who can build and manage Web 2.0 resources including wikis, blogs, user groups and forums. The IBM/University of Arizona partnership is the first of its kind to bring these principles to the classroom, giving students early exposure to influential, emerging technologies. This is also the first in a new suite of courses from the MIS Department related to managing and marketing online services.

"Our partnership with University of Arizona is designed to help draw more students into the exciting field of Management Information Systems while promoting the benefits of collaboration through the use of cutting-edge technologies," said Gina Poole, vice president, Innovation and University Relations, IBM. "By gaining skills on Web 2.0 and online communities, students can help businesses and employers better market and sell themselves using powerful online mediums."

Co-developed by the MIS Department and IBM, the new course is designed to reinvigorate undergraduate student interest in information technology. According to a recent report from the Association for Computer Machinery, the number of newly declared computer science majors has declined by an average of 32 percent in the last four years. Designed to appeal to a new generation of students who are well familiar with online communities like MySpace, this new course helps students build practical and sophisticated information management skills that can be applied to a variety of industries and businesses.

Patricia Scull, a MIS student at The University of Arizona, is one of 40 students who participate in lectures, virtual class sessions, and experiential learning opportunities as part of this new program. "This class opens the eyes of students by introducing them to the vast opportunities made available by the internet's array of communication environments," said Scull.

The growing use of social and community systems in businesses to support customers, users, and the general public, is creating an increasing demand for the job role of a "community manager." The new course enables students to explore and recognize various online collaboration tools and social software to provide an understanding of how they are used in businesses today. In addition, the classes are structured to promote leadership qualities, collaboration, and peer-interaction. Students are expected to carry out a number of group assignments and projects, as well as individual presentations.

The class will culminate in a final project where each student from the class will work with their own separate group of students from Howenstine High School in Tucson, Arizona, to organize into many micro-communities. This offers hands-on experience in leadership, communications and community-building skills. Each high school student will also learn how to use social software towards the goals of their community. This innovative partnership between industry, university level education and high schools aims to encourage greater interest in the field of Information Technology at one stage earlier in a student's academic career, with hopes to encourage other universities to adopt a similar model.

In addition to the new course materials, students and faculty members can access developerWorks, the skills-building hub of IBM's 5.5 million member developer community, for a first hand example of how a company is providing clients with a wealth of Web 2.0 technologies, such as blogs, wikis, podcasts and forums, to enable greater communication, efficiency and productivity. Students can use developerWorks to build the skills needed to support these technologies, and understand how these tools can be applied in the business world to support and enhance a company's objectives. Additionally, through its newly unveiled Web development zone, developerWorks provides students with a series of educational tools designed to help them implement and develop dynamic web applications using cutting-edge development technologies such as Ajax, PHP and Ruby. For more information, please visit:

A sample of topics covered in the new University classes includes:

The role of online communities in business

This class teaches an understanding of how businesses are building their online communities to attract potential clients, generate revenue, and support customers. It explores the business models and tooling used in a variety of commercial sites.

Common types of community tools and environments

This class discusses the key content and collaboration tools: blogs, forums, wikis, podcasting, and videocasting. Students complete project work in each of these technologies to gain hands-on experience.

Making your community a success

Students learn how to plan, launch, recruit, populate, and grow their communities. This explains the different business measurements associated with online communities and how to deliver results. The lectures will also cover best practices for marketing a community.

The new resources will be supported by the IBM Academic Initiative program which offers faculty and students at universities a wide range of technology education benefits to encourage the use of open standards technologies.

Currently, more than 1,900 institutions, 11,000 faculty members and 450,000 students are taking advantage of the training programs offered through the IBM Academic Initiative, a partnership program designed to educate millions of students for a more competitive IT workforce.

For more information on the IBM Academic Initiative, visit

About the Management Information Systems Department

Eller College of Management, The University of Arizona

From pioneering one of the early MIS programs 3 decades ago in 1974 and championing the development of an IS Curriculum in partnership with Association of Computing Machinery (ACM), the faculty members in the MIS department at the Eller College of Management, University of Arizona have been at the forefront of IS education and research. With over 16 million in research grants and other state and industry support, our program has initiated and participated in cutting edge research in many fields (e.g. group systems, artificial intelligence, and data management among others) while educating over 3,500 undergraduate, 1,200 graduate and 150 doctoral students. US News and World Report has ranked the UA MIS program among the top 5 in the nation, not once but for 18 consecutive years.