8. Production control

From last week…

The discussions were graded differently this week. I’m looking for participation and original work. Links to Wikipedia articles are acceptable for partial points, but they don’t demonstrate self-directed learning on the topic. Posting early and often are encouraged with additional points. While I understand that everyone has a lot of other things going on, your learning and contribution to the class as a whole are short-changed if you do all the assignments Thursday evening every week.

Don’t get me wrong, doing all the assignments is really important. Online courses are different than classroom courses for many reasons. Having lots of small activities and assignments with specific weekly due dates seems to work well. However, it works better if you spread out the work on the assignments and discussions through the week. That gives others a chance to comment on your work. It also provides time for you to think about and revisit interesting parts of the topic.

There are lots of small graded activities and discussion to allow you to structure your course work in a way that is convenient for you. There are no “high stakes” exams where you can cram for a few hours and “ace” the class. You have to do all the activities AND submit them. These aren’t just homework. They are continuous assessment and encouragement to guide you through the course material. You are expected to direct your own learning within each topic by exploring areas of interest and relevance to you.

I believe in rewarding excellence. While the grading is pretty generous, you need to do more than “just enough” to get full points for every assignment. You have had plenty of time to figure out how the course works. Now you will have to work a bit harder for those last couple of points. There is lots of great work so I know you can do it.

Production control is new to many students. Here are some clarifications that you might find helpful.

  • Flow systems are continuous, non-stop. Stuff comes in the front or top  and finished stuff goes out the bottom, day in and day out. Things like oil refineries work all the time. Batch systems do a “run” – complete everything that needs to be processed and stop when they are done. Monthly billing processing is an example – all the bills are prepared in a “batch” once a month.
  • Production” – The problem comes from using the same word to mean many different things. Production – the development phase of an information system lifecycle means that the system is up and running and doing the job it was built to do. That job can be making cars on an automated assembly line or processing online orders for books or issuing payroll checks or making the Mars rover phone home on sunny days.
  • “why would someone want to teach a child how to program at a young age” – That was pretty well explained in the Etoys site pages and articles. It allows kids to explore lots of different kinds of problems and solve them themselves in hands-on self-directed activities to develop computer literacy and critical thinking skills.
  • Self-driving cars – many believe that driving is too dangerous to be left to people, and that we would all be safer on the roads if computers in cars took care of everything. They don’t get distracted, talk on their phones, yell at the kids in the back seat, fall asleep at the wheel or have bad days.

Coming up… 9. Anytime, anywhere

Introduced in just the last 20 years, mobile computing and the internet have both made anytime anywhere computing a reality. While there are disadvantages to being available all the time, there are many more benefits to access to information and services 24-by-7 (all the time). Being location-independent has enormous benefits as well for researchers, people with unusual hobbies, and acquiring scare or unique goods and services from anywhere on the planet.

This week we will look at some ideas and applications of information systems that are still in the formative stages. We have all these great new technologies. Now what are we going to do with them?


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