CMIS 311 (Supporting End-User Computing) is a three-credit business and administrative studies course that has no prerequisites, though “students are expected to have experience using Microsoft Office products.” Students should take CMIS 245 (Computers and Management Information Systems) which focuses on the four primary applications, including Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and Access if they are concerned about their Microsoft Office skills. If you are interested in learning more about this course, read my CMIS 245 Course Exam Article.
Supporting End-User Computing is comprised of three main units and four assignments (technically projects) weighing twenty-five percent each. This course does not have a midterm or final exam. The three units within this course cover topics such as customer service skills, how to troubleshoot computer problems, common support related problems, help desk operations, how to properly address customer issues, and how to solve customer issues.
The four projects can be very time consuming, though easy, for the most part. The first project requires students to write a one-or-two-page written report, design a simple website (basic knowledge of writing in HTML would be beneficial), create a PowerPoint presentation, create a user guide, write a troubleshooting script, and write steps on how to enable software features. The second project requires students to write a brief analysis, design a website layout, create a survey, write a product comparison, and create a project charter. The third project has students installing software, explaining how to obtain and use that software in a Word document, writing a simple short script (experience with AutoHotkey would help), taking a survey and comparing results, and benchmarking PC internet connections. Finally, the fourth project is something that students will want to start early within their course contract. This project requires students to post support requests, respond to others’ support requests, and compile all the requests into a Word document.
Terrence Taylor, the coordinator and developer of CMIS 311, has been with Athabasca University for almost thirty years. Also, he is the coordinator and tutor for COMP 210 (Introduction to Information Systems and Computer Applications), COMP 214 (Interactive Technologies), COMP 282 (Social Aspects of Games, Leisure, and Entertainment), and COMP 283 (Effective Use of Myths and Facts in Computer Games); meanwhile, a coordinator for CMIS 245 (Computers and Management Information Systems), and a tutor for CMIS 351 (Computers and Management Information Systems).
Taylor states, “CMIS 311 is a project-based course in User Support and aims to develop competence in a wide range of related areas, including direct user support, troubleshooting, benchmarking, product evaluation, effective communication, training, support website planning and helpdesk management. A combination of reading assignments from the text and hands-on exercises are used.”
He continues, “Like any course, CMIS 311 requires that students engage in the readings and activities in a systematic and attentive manner. Do not gloss over the textbook reading just because you do not have to spit it all back out on a multiple-choice exam. The text provides great context and detail relating to the assignment activities. As the assignments are practical, I think students generally find them interesting, which motivates them to put in the extra effort. The standard of achievement certainly reflects that as I rarely see a carelessly or inadequately completed activity.”
When asked which students he would recommend this course to, he states “Any one who thinks they may at some point have a training or support role, or anyone who thinks (as I do) that some knowledge in this area will strengthen your own computing skills and competence, by making you better at being able to support your own use, and better able to relate to external support when you need it. Students will get a better understanding of how to support other users when called upon to do so, and a better understanding of user support in general. We all will have many situations in our computing careers where we are either offering or needing support or training, or where we are in collaborative situations where these skills can be applied.”
I recently completed this course and, overall, I enjoyed it. This course allows you to apply your creative Microsoft Office skills to the projects. For example, each of the assignments are graded heavily on design, meaning that they want you to insert photos and make use of different fonts, font sizes, headers, and background colors to make your work more visually appealing. Also, I feel like the assignments gradually became less demanding. For instance, project one took a lot more time than project two, project two took more time than project three, and project four did not take much time whatsoever. I would recommend this course to every Computer Science student or anyone that wants to learn more about tech support positions.