Course Exam – Project in E-Commerce (ECOM 420)

With the opening of Athabasca University’s new E-Commerce course, Project in E-Commerce (ECOM 420), AU business students will be able to experience the world of e-commerce in a previously unknown, “hands-on” way! This course enables students to delve into the e-commerce through self-directed research and experience the world of e-commerce in a way yet unknown in previous e-commerce or business courses.

Essentially, the core component of ECOM 420 is a large-scale project within the realm of e-commerce. Course author and professor Houda Trabelsi, chair of Athabasca University’s Centre for Finance, Management, and the Economy, indicated in a recent e-interview that ECOM 420 is the “capstone course” in AU’s e-commerce major. Through the creation of an e-commerce project, students in the course will have the valuable opportunity to “plan, develop, integrate, and apply” their e-commerce skills taught in previous business courses. Trabelsi emphasized that ECOM 420 stresses the “real world” practice and experience of e-commerce, creating a valuable skill gained for students once completed the course. As for project ideas, Trabelsi has many neat ideas for students. Some of her suggested project ideas include business-to-business services conducted electronically; developing e-commerce through e-stores; and creating enterprise portals. Trabelsi also emphasized that students need not feel confined to using only the suggested topics; students with the initiative to “contribute to existing knowledge in the [e-commerce] field” are encouraged to develop their own project ideas, and enrich the world of e-commerce with new research.

Since ECOM 420 is a senior level research course at AU, there is a significant emphasis placed on self-directed learning and, ultimately, individual student responsibilities. However, interested students should note that they will not be left “entirely alone” to design and develop their e-commerce projects; rather, healthy support will be given from the individual students’ tutors or from members of AU’s faculty of e-commerce.

Evaluation of a student’s ECOM 420 project is assessed in two parts, referred to as assignments. The first assignment, worth 25%, is a preliminary outline, which, according to Trabelsi, is in the form of a basic a study proposal. Trabelsi demonstrated that the proposal should contain a factual “skeleton” of information about the project (topic, work plan including intended objectives and possible timeline, and project assessment) to give the course tutor a relatively accurate image of the proposed project in mind. Essentially, the goal of this initial assignment is to help focus students on the intended research area, determine the project’s innate feasibility, and enable the student to gain constructive feedback from their tutor in regards to their project ideas and associated plan of action. Once students receive the “go ahead” from their tutor about the project, they can proceed to work on the second assignment of ECOM 420. This assignment is the actual project itself, and is weighted as 75% of the final grade.

Course professor Houda Trabelsi has her undergraduate in e-commerce, and 3 separate Master’s degrees in information technology, business administration, and managerial accounting, respectively. She is the e-Commerce academic coordinator at Athabasca. Trabelski currently teaches four senior-level AU e-Commerce and Management Information Systems courses. Her research interests center around the world of e-commerce and its related issues, including trust and privacy in e-commerce, internet nagivation, risk management, interface design, business models, customer relationships management, and, of course, e-learning!

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