Writing Sample

ITEC 3650 – Spring 2012, Cultural Analysis Report

Catherine Lowry reviewed the nine major elements of an organization’s culture with the Information Technology Minor Program’s, Lime class on Monday 01/30/2012. Of those she asked that we reference five of them and discuss those here in this descriptive essay. Of the nine, I have chosen to focus on language, rules, values, physical setting and heroes.
Language

The students and the faculty within the Information Technology Minor Program often use acronyms such as HTML instead of the full name of Hypertext Markup Language, W3C for the World Wide Web Consortium, SQL for Structural Query Language and other such terminology for concepts relevant to web design and administration.

The language we use tends to be that of technicians and information technology professionals. Many of us are both students as well as full time UALR staff employees for various departments on campus. As such in our professional capacities we have firsthand experience working with Microsoft Word, Excel, Access, PowerPoint and for those of us who also manage our department’s online presence we are familiar with the UALR variant of WordPress version 2.0 and later. As a result of this previous work experience we are able to understand more of the subtle interconnected aspects between each of these programs, better than perhaps someone without this experience may, working with these for the first time.

I’m sure that as the course progresses there will be examples of jargon or industry shorthand for larger concepts, similar to the acronyms we already utilize. For instance, I still remember PEMDAS from College Algebra which is essentially the mathematical order of equations used in Algebraic computations. That previous knowledge proved beneficial when we were working with building and adapting formulas in Microsoft Excel in ITEC 3610 course last semester, where we had to remember that the operation of the function relied on knowing what was in the inner most set of parenthesis and working outward from that.

As the ITEC 3650 course progresses we are starting to learn CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and we will soon learn how to utilize JavaScript and JQuery which are sort of program language variants of their own.

Rules

Rules are helpful guidelines to govern behavior of those associated with a particular academic or business culture or sub-culture. Rules come in a variety of forms ranging from written, spoken, and unwritten to unspoken or assumed rules or regulations. The more established and concrete a policy becomes the more transparent and overtly expressed it becomes. A rule often starts out assumed through the collective actions of the individuals participating in a group or organization, until such time that someone inadvertently fails to uphold such a convention. At which time, it becomes necessary to either express the unspoken in either vocal or written formats depending on the managerial decision of the administrator at hand.

An example of a written rule would be any of the various policies expressed in the 104 pages of the UALR Student handbook. A good example of that would be the policy against possession of weapons on campus or plagiarism.

A spoken rule is essentially a verbal expression of a mandate from in this case, the Information Technology Minor program faculty, to be adhered to. A good example of this kind of rule is that students should not eat at their workstations.

Unwritten and unspoken rules or assumptive regulations are far more tenuous and are only evident by the similar behavior of multiple individuals in a group dynamic. An example of this would be that the students of the Information Technology Minor program address the instructors and faculty by their first name instead of Professor and their last name.

Values

Values are more nebulous and abstract concepts similar to that of morays and morals. Such concepts as Excellence, Honesty, Intelligence, Education, Creativity and Intellectual Pursuit were observed in class when we reviewed this concept. While these are certainly valid, one might postulate that the Information Technology Minor Lime Class also possess the values of Intellectual Curiosity, Tenacity, Collaborative Compassion and Determination.

An example of intellectual curiosity would be why any of us opted to enroll in the I.T. Minor Program, we want to know more about web design and administration processes. But more specifically, when we need or want to learn something new, we are able to seek out that knowledge either through correspondence, research or collaboration.

An example of tenacity and determination would be the drive that it takes to seek out the answers to some of the questions we end up having with the assignments associated with the I.T. Minor Program.

A further example of collaborative compassion is when any of us find ourselves in a position of knowledge and see the opportunity to assist one of our colleagues in need of assistance; we have the heart to actually offer aid and collegial support.
Physical Setting

UALR is a metropolitan university set in heart of the capital city of Arkansas decorated with a expansive amount of various types of trees ranging from pine to maple and pin oaks. The Information Technology Minor Program is housed in the Engineering and Information Technology building. Our classes are held in room 219 which holds 37 at maximum occupancy, which is both a computer lab and classroom combined.

The way in which the whole classroom is appointed helps to focus the student’s attention on achieving their educational goals. The classroom has a main instructor computer linked to the video and data projector that is connected to the large screen for viewing of the different materials covered in the I.T. Minor courses. The classroom seating for the students are on a raised and curved stadium style configuration with the central point being centered to look upon the projection screen over the multitude of computer monitors set up for the student’s use.

The room works well to allow the students to access the software being discussed in the I.T. Minor Program through the VM-Ware Thinclient desktop software. This software has its glitches, such as its refusal to allow usb thumbdrives to mount successfully in order to save the student’s work or to access work from them. The only work around that I have been able to find so far is to open a web browser, go to my UALR email account and backup my work to one of my Google Documents folders. Overall, this room is conducive to facilitating the class room lectures and exercise that we need to accomplish.

Heroes and Heroines

The instructors really help us to learn the material and to figure things out for ourselves. They set the path for us to assist one another as situations arise. An example of this would be on Monday 01/30/2012 when in the middle of Thomas Wallace’s lecture the copy of Adobe Dreamweaver that I was accessing through the VM-Ware Thinclient software tried to sync the local and the remote versions of the index.html file that we were working with in class. This process failed for some unapparent reason and resulted in a complete wipe of both versions of the file, essentially I lost everything that we had done in class that night in a matter of moments.

Because of the culture of the Lime class three of my fellow classmates stayed behind after class and offered various degrees of assistance. Fortunately, I have a habit of backing up my work in UALR’s Google Doc system and was able to restore the index.html file to the state it was before class started. I also take meticulous hand written notes in class and record the lectures so that if I miss anything, I can go back to those in order to reference them for missing data.

The true heroes and heroines of the Information Technology Minor program are those students who take it upon themselves to not only learn the material being presented, but to be a source of support and assistance to their fellow classmates who find themselves struggling with either a series of concepts or more often the troublesome technology. The whole class has small pockets of friendships being established where we feel like a generally cohesive group and not just individuals making the most as we can out of yet another class.

Conclusion

To recap, we have reviewed how language, rules, values, physical setting and heroes apply to the Information Technology Minor Program’s, Lime Class as it relates to Organizational Culture. In brief, every organization, group and business has its own culture which varies to some degree from each other.

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