University of the Cumberlands Online PhD in Information Technology

Discussion in 'IT and Computer-Related Degrees' started by Marcus Aurelius, Jan 29, 2018.

  1. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    Material is dripped out. A PowerPoint presentation with embedded audio is provided which makes up the lecture, and when combined with the readings makes up the instruction part of the course. I wrote my intro, signed the academic honesty pledge and completed my first discussion board post. No guidance is provided on length but there is a checklist around substantiveness. Interestingly, there doesn't seem to be a way to see how many other students are in the course with me.

    TEKMAN Semper Fi!

    Yes, you can use course messager. You'll see a list of the point of contact include professor and TA.
    Dustin likes this.
  3. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    Thanks! You're right. There are 30 people in my course.
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  4. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    ITS831 Week 2's content is on Blockchain.

    Interestingly they have a series of recorded lectures and each week has a different one that's dissertation-related, alongside the regular content. So for example, last week's was the PhD Orientation while this week is Developing a Dissertation Topic. The discussion board posts are the usual kind.

    The paper is 4-6 pages double-spaced - I hope - APA7 style about Blockchain. My paper was about the impact of Blockchain on local government.
  5. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    ITS831 Week 3's content is on telecommuting/return to the office and digital transformation. This week's paper is about a digital transformation, either one that you've participated in personally or one that you've seen in the news. My paper was on a project that I was a consultant on. Doing well so far. I've been trying to do the reading on Mondays and write my first discussion post, finish the paper by Tuesday night, and then do my replies to others by Thursday each week.
    datby98, chrisjm18, TEKMAN and 2 others like this.
  6. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    ITS831 Week 4's content is on virtualization and cloud computing. Made it to the mid-way point! This week's paper is more involved: you need to write a case study about an organization's preparedness to use virtualization, describe a vendor's licensing strategy, explain how you would configure storage (at a high level) and also include information about Windows Azure. I'll definitely need to do some reading because I'm not particularly knowledgeable about this set of technologies. I can't find a University of the Cumberlands grading scale but I'm confident I have an A right now, hopefully I can keep that going.
  7. Xspect

    Xspect Active Member

    The grading scale in mid way down on the syllabus for each course
  8. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    Not in this syllabus unfortunately. It includes the grading breakdown week by week, so I know what my percentage will be but not what the percentages convert to in terms of letter grades. Also don't see it listed it in the graduate catalogue or the student handbook.

    Edit: I pulled a syllabus for this course from another section/instructor and it was listed there:

    A = 90 – 100 (90% - 100%)
    B = 80 – 89.9 (80% - 89.9%)
    C = 70 – 79.9 (70% - 79.9%)
    F < 69.9 (Below 69.9%)
    Xspect likes this.
  9. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    ITS831 Week 5's content is a busier one. We have three assignments: a Practical Connection assignment where we reflect on the useful of the material in our careers due Thursday, another 4-6 page paper on developing a security policy for an organization and a few papers to read. This week's content is on physical security which has been interesting.

    I am beginning to really dislike SafeAssign. My papers show an average SafeAssign score of 30%, which when opened turns out to be my citations and the course title page.
    chrisjm18 likes this.
  10. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    That's why instructors should not only focus on the percentage. Instead, they should check the report because often the references and title pages contribute to a high SafeAssign score.
    Dustin likes this.
  11. siersema

    siersema Active Member

    I’m not familiar with Safe Assign, but as an instructor Turnitin will allow you to exempt the references page. Perhaps the instructors could be asked to do so in Safe Assign?
  12. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member

    I didn't know that about Turnitin. But I just checked and saw where it said "Exclude bibliographic materials." I also just checked Safe Assign in Blackboard but saw nothing to that effect.
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  13. wingshot

    wingshot New Member

    Remember, a SafeAssign score is the probability that your content contains plagiarism. Thus, a score of 30% does not imply that 30% of your content is plagiarized. Instead, it means that SafeAssign believes there is a 30% chance the highlighted content is plagiarized. This is clearly and unmistakably documented here on Blackboard's website.

    However, few at UC understand this distinction. I had one guy tell us anything over 60% gets an automatic "F". Interestingly, unlike TurnItIn, SafeAssign does not allow the exclusion of references. If you have a lot of references, in an otherwise short paper, you can hit 60% or more.

    Some are just lazy and will not read your paper. They want a way to quickly grade a paper. So the "good" ones scan the references, read the introduction, read the conclusion, and they might copy and paste the paper into Grammarly. However, a few tried grading solely off of the SafeAssign score, which is expressly prohibited by Blackboard. I only had one plagiarism issue from a lazy grader who heavily penalized me because of a SafeAssign score. The only highlighted portions of my paper were the page headers and the references--that's it. I asked him about it, and he told me to "watch my SafeAssign score". I told him I would appeal to the VPAA because he was inappropriately using a SafeAssign score instead of reading and grading. He reversed the grade.

    He's not alone at UC, though. I'm in 736 now. That's been an interesting experience. I may do a separate post on this course.

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  14. chrisjm18

    chrisjm18 Well-Known Member


    Source: SafeAssign.
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  15. Garp

    Garp Well-Known Member

    Very enlightening. Good on you for pushing the issue.

  16. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    ITS831 Week 6: COSO Framework

    We have our regular discussion board posts. We have to write a 4-6 page paper discussing the five components of the COSO framework (Control Environment, Risk Assessment, Control Activities, Information and Communication, Monitoring), how an IT audit would proceed and how we would integrate the framework into a company.

    We also got a preview of the Week 7 paper, which is a 7-9 page paper (excluding title page and references) about data warehouse architecture, Big Data and green computing.

    Week 8 is a final course reflection and then I'll move on to the next one.
    Jonathan Whatley likes this.
  17. wingshot

    wingshot New Member

    COSO also comes up in a couple of papers in ITS 835: Enterprise Risk Management. You'll lay a nice foundation for it here in 831.

    Taking two courses at the same time (for a total of 4 in a given semester) makes great progress, but things become a blur. I robotically churned out so many papers and discussions that by the time I reached ITS 835, I completely forgot I ever wrote a paper in 831 on COSO. As I researched COSO, I kept thinking, this sounds familiar. I searched file explorer for COSO and found a paper I'd written in 831 that I somehow didn't even remember writing.

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  18. wingshot

    wingshot New Member

    I'm in 736 now. I finished the literature review three weeks ago in Week 11, well ahead of schedule. I took a couple of weeks off. Now, I'm back at it, working ahead with the chair's approval. I've almost finished Chapter 1 now, even though that course doesn't start until the Fall. But the only thing that matters now is the dissertation itself. You live or die with the dissertation--credit for courses means nothing without a published dissertation. Meanwhile, I guess 70% of the class will fail the course, judging from the most recent forum posts. (There's not a lot of busy work in 736, but they still force you to post discussions and create a PowerPoint presentation at the end of the course. Most students seem to take comfort in each other's misery in the discussions.)
    Warning: This is so long I must split this into 2 posts because of the 15,000 character cap imposed by the forum.
    Part: [1/2]
    Here are a few tips I've gathered along the way:
    • For 99% of you, your chair is not an expert in your topic. Yes, you could pick a topic your chair is an expert in, but it's unlikely, given the narrow range of chairs available in the random semester you start 736.
      • Think about it: You can choose any topic, which logically means, they must be experts in every topic?
      • No, they aren't experts in every topic, and most likely not your topic.
    • This changes how you write your literature review. You are writing it for an educated but ignorant audience. This is particularly true if you use theories outside of IT, such as theories from psychology, sociology, economics, etc., to frame your research.
    • You will have found several survey instruments you could use in 736. Maybe you've narrowed it to one, two, or three existing instruments. Maybe you will combine constructs from other instruments and run a pilot test. The point is you have some idea of your survey instrument.
      • They expect the constructs (that means "things") measured by the survey instrument to be thoroughly discussed in your literature review.
      • They aren't experts in the field, so they just glance at your intended instrument(s), hit CTRL-F, and search for keywords in your literature review. Smarter ones may use a word cloud. They expect to see a lot of "hits" for key constructs on your intended instrument(s). This actually makes sense.
      • But, since they aren't experts, they may not understand subtle nuances in terminology. For example, suppose Term A is a broad term, and terms X, Y, and Z are subset terms belonging to A. They won't know to search for X, Y, and Z, and so you'll need to sprinkle references to Term A in places where you wouldn't if you were truly writing for a subject matter expert.
    • Because they aren't experts in your topic, they cannot truly evaluate the technical merits of an argument. This is the real reason they micromanage references:
      • They don't know which conference proceedings are high quality in your topic area, so they allow no conference proceedings in your citations (or my chair doesn't). They need easy ways to enforce rules. This is one of them.
      • Nevermind that authors from premiere IT journals (like Information Systems Research, MIT Quarterly, and others) repeatedly cited this conference proceeding. Binary rules are easier to enforce for non-experts.
      • They equate older research as inferior research in defiance of traditional scholarly research standards. Here's why
        • They are not experts in your topic. They have no idea if any given research claim is outdated or not.
        • Thus, they won't allow more than 15% of your articles to be older than 5 years from the date you defend your dissertation.
        • This encourages students to "cite through" by citing foundational material through more recent research. Most institutions heavily frown on this--they want you to cite each original article to show the evolution of your topic, theory, etc. UC actually loves citing, though.
        • This creates problems when you reference more than one theoretical framework. They want you to tell the history and evolution but won't give you many references to do it. This encourages less-than-transparent citations. Again, UC likes it--few other institutions do.
        • Thus, from their perspective, this is an easy-to-manage system! By "citing through", it proves scholars are still using the material, so they conclude the idea must still be good! Therefore, the rigid citation rules cover their ignorance of your topic, eliminating the need for them to become experts in your topic (which, again, they cannot possibly do because students can pick "any topic".
    • They want you to use "high-quality" IT journals. They'll provide a list of "high-quality" journals that seems to have been copied from another university's website years ago. So, it's outdated but, honestly, still in the ballpark.
      • Some high-quality journals, especially in cybersecurity, aren't on that list.
      • What they seem to really want are journals with an impact factor of 1 or greater. (Google [name of journal] and impact factor).
      • Other journal red flags that indicate poor quality (but this is never told to students, at least not my chair, although yours truly figured it out):
        • Articles without explicit and testable hypotheses for quantitative research
        • Hypotheses development isn't based on theory or research. I.e., "yeah, we're gonna test if X correlated with Y--we think it is, but we won't tell you why". Game show buzzer sound--run.
        • Lack of clear findings. Can you read and comprehend? Are you seeing any real results? Worse yet, the results or findings section is missing. No,
        • Lack of an argument on why, specifically, (theory and practical) contributions the article makes.
        • Articles with poor quality typesetting, wild colors, and "international" in the name. Some legit journals have "international" in their name, but many "international" journals are crap shows.
      • They really want you to cite mostly IT journals. Even if your topic is multi-disciplinary, where legitimate discussions happen in cross-over publications in economics, psychology, sociology, management, etc. journals, if the director of the IT Ph.D. program scans the list of references near your defense and sees "too many" non-IT journals, he may conclude it's not an IT dissertation.
        • Remember, those who aren't subject matter experts look for easy, binary decisions.
        • It doesn't matter that other dissertations on your topic published by elite universities do this--you can't because they aren't subject matter experts here.
    • Different chairs will spout different reference counts. But the Department Director of Ph.D. is looking for 75 to 100 high-quality articles to produce 40-60 pages.
      • That doesn't mean you reviewed and understood every detail of 75 to 100 articles.
      • For many dissertations, several articles are the most critical. They are the closest to your dissertation. You'll know every detail of these.
      • Branching out, 30 or 40 articles really tell your story. You do need to understand these articles very, very well. These are your core articles.
      • The remaining 30 articles, or so, are for background and more auxiliary or peripheral.
      • For those critical and core articles, no one will tell you this, but consider writing an annotated bibliography for them--not in some exact format.
        • Just the article name and author, followed by a few paragraphs on the article's purpose, the theory used, how the theory connects with the variables, and the findings.
        • And, anything noteworthy like this was quantitative research, or this research applied only to employees from three companies in one country.
        • Then, it's straightforward to weave these summaries into a literature review, recognizing various themes and synthesizing information.
    • The question is not: Can I find 75 articles on my exact, pinpoint topic? You probably can't.
      • The question is: If you back up to your larger, high-level general topic area, can you find 75 articles?
      • This includes articles that may not be exactly in your specific topic area but uses theory you can reference (because, you know, you can only have so many older references).
        • Maybe they are more general IT articles using your theory, but at least it shows your theory being used in IT.
        • That's a stepping stone to using your theory in your pinpoint topic area.
        • Is there an argument that can bridge the gap between research a little beyond your area to your area?
      • Every article should lead you to more sources. Use tools like Semantic Scholar, Research Rabbit, and LitMaps.
        • Backward search: Find all references cited by this article. How did they use them? Can you use them in the same way?
        • Forward search: Find all references that cite this article. Are they relevant?
        • Semantic Scholar lets you sort references of any article by date. This makes the process very quick--stop looking when you get beyond the UC cutoff date.
    Part 2 is next...
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  19. wingshot

    wingshot New Member

    Part 2/2:
    • No one tells you this upfront, but UC counts pages as a surrogate for quality. (Same is true for reference counting, too, see above).
      • Some students who performed real research, had real findings and explained a proper methodology came up a little short on the pages.
      • This is not unheard of, given the infinite combinations of variables.
      • Some had to go back and "pad" their literature review with more content to get the page count up to 125-150 pages.
        • A few pages off won't matter, but remember, when you aren't an expert in a topic, you need quick binary surrogates for quality. Page count is an easy target.
      • It's not a bad idea for a literature review to run a little long upfront. You gain knowledge and perspective. You can always cut material later, which is easier than writing more.
    • Master a citation manager (like Zotero) while you are doing the busy work of 831-836. It's so critical for later. This is one area I slam-dunked.
      • When I got to 736, I thoroughly and completely understood how Zotero works.
      • I understood folders.
      • I understood how to use color-coded tags.
      • I understood how to do regular citations and inline citations.
      • I understood I can drag and drop items into multiple folders
      • I understood I can open, read, and highlight PDFs without ever having to leave Zotero.
      • I understood how to use Zotero notes.
      • I understood how to show all of my highlights from an article.
      • I understood Zotero tries but is not always foolproof in importing citations.
        • I could recognize a citation as being wrong because "something" was missing, like the year or author names weren't right.
        • It guesses at Sentence cases for titles but doesn't recognize acronyms.
      • The better mastery you have of your citation manager going in means less time wasted when you should be writing.
      • Remember, when non-experts look at a dissertation, they go for easy-to-find problems like the References page.
        • Master that now to avoid a mess of problems later.
        • Faculty to student translator: "OMG, son, these references ain't in APA format" = You probably just have a few references in Title case rather than Sentence case.
        • Understand APA and your reference manager now before 736.
    • The pink elephant in the room is AI. You can cheat your way through the 831-836 core courses with AI.
      • Before AI, I saw students who wrote like weird NPC bots, copying and pasting each other's discussion posts, plagiarizing websites, using wildly inappropriate references, or copying references from other students.
        • Now, I can only imagine that everything in those courses is completely AI-generated.
        • Understand these foolish people are wasting their money.
          • They will never write a dissertation--ever.
          • They are actually subsidizing the cost of the degree for you, though. If not for these poor-quality students paying tuition, how much more would your tuition be?
      • But AI cannot write a dissertation for you. It can't even come close.
      • You must know how to write well, and if you bypass the training UC tries to give you with the busy work in 831-836, you are screwing yourself in the long term.
      • Many AI tools help you, such as Semantic Scholar, Research Rabbit, and LitMaps, for identifying literature.
      • Perplexity.AI and Scite.AI can help you find even more literature as it provides citations with their dialog. Scite allows you to exclude references older than X.
      • Many tools, like Perplexity, HeyGPT, ChatPDF, and plugins for ChatGPT, let you chat with a PDF--or a collection of PDFs.
        • These are helpful for understanding some content.
        • They are also unreliable.
        • They may lie to you.
        • They can be great for forming an initial idea of what an article says and then scanning it to prove/disprove it.
      • Nothing beats the human mind, for now. All of these tools lack the critical thinking and deep synthesis necessary for a dissertation.
      • Remember, the gotcha is weaving theory throughout your research. AI sucks at that.
      • But that doesn't mean you can't use AI to understand the material.
        • What fool wouldn't use spell check?
        • What fool wouldn't use Grammarly?
        • What fool still types on a typewriter?
        • What fool says AI can't help discover, organize, and comprehend scholarly material?
    • Your chair is not the final authority on anything. Your chair is supposed to serve as a safety net. From my discussions, some do better than others.
      • The IRB can overrule your chair.
      • The IRB can reject your survey instrument
      • The IRB can reject anything about your data collection or research model.
      • The IT program director can reject your dissertation and overrule your chair near the end even though you did what your chair said.
      • This means you should always understand your chair's reasoning on anything they tell you. They may be wrong.
        • Try to understand the underlying concern and target that. Remember, your chair isn't the only one who runs a Ctrl-F search on your dissertation and looks for keyword clusters. Others will, too--it's better to scatter the terms they want to see rather than use more specific terms. Don't fight the non-expert undercurrent.
        • This is just one example. Similar situations arise with the methodology section and findings section. Understand your audience who aren't experts in your topic.
    • Understand the odds you face. Look in ProQuest. Filter by University of the Cumberlands and the past 2 years or so.
      • Oh, you found a lot did you?
      • No, you didn't find many IT ones, friend.
        • You found a lot of education and leadership dissertations. Several faculty tell me they play by different rules over there.
        • When you dig in, you will note precious few Ph.D. in IT dissertations.
        • Why do you think that is?
        • I believe, but cannot prove in a public forum, that the Ph.D. in IT dissertation success rate is so low that it's caused higher UC administrators to question what is happening on the IT side.
        • When I got to the DSRT courses (but before the dissertation sequence began), I was utterly shocked at how much higher the quality of students there (from the education and leadership side) than the students I saw in the 831-836 courses and the core courses. (In the intro discussions, you discover their majors.)
          • That's one reason why the success rate on the IT side is so low--the poor quality students I saw in 831-836.
          • Another reason is students who can parrot content or babble but cannot critically evaluate, synthesize, and connect concepts together in a scholarly way.
          • You can't just spout facts in a dissertation. You must tell what the research implies, what it suggests, and how every paragraph connects back to your overall topic. This requires real thought, a skillset I am convinced many I saw in 831-836 utterly lack.
          • Learn how to write, not just like a human being, but a scholarly one in 831-836.
    I hope this helps some of you!
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  20. Dustin

    Dustin Well-Known Member

    Submitted my week 6 paper (COSO Framework) and Week 7 paper (final portfolio project). The portfolio project is a longer paper where you respond to three prompts. Otherwise it's very similar to the other papers in the course. Also finished my discussion board posts for this week. All that's left in this course is next week's discussion board post on IT project management (an easy one because I do project management in my role now and I'm going for my PMP later this month), and a final reflection.

    I start my next two courses August 28:
    And then I'll finish those and start two more October 23:
    • ITS835 Enterprise Risk Management
    • ITS833 Information Governance
    I should finish the year with 15 credits complete out of 60.
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