Course Syllabus

Please note that the specifics of this Course Syllabus are subject to change. Instructors will notify students of any changes and students will be responsible for abiding by them. Even if you print this syllabus, please check the online version often. 


IST 301: Information and Organizations (3 credits) - Overview of organizational structures and functions. Includes information processing and analytic perspectives of organizations.

Organizations exist to help direct human and capital resources toward activities that support the organization’s goals. The organization’s structure helps to determine the division of tasks, the roles and responsibilities of individuals within the organization, and the reporting lines of staff through their managers. When the organizational structure matches with the tasks and the purpose of the organization, they are said to have achieved a strategic fit where the organization is operating at high levels of efficiency and effectiveness. 

Information technology systems support organizations by linking the individuals within them to facilitate (1) communication, (2) decision-making, and (3) coordination. Information technology systems are designed by evaluating the culture of the organization and understanding the flow of tasks between individuals and between functional areas. Within the IT system design, it is important to consider what the various stakeholders within the organization need of the system, including how they want to interact with the system and how their work is supported by the system. 

In today’s complex and interconnected world where global commerce is supported by globally distributed work, IT systems and knowledge workers are increasingly expected to be able to coordinate activities across organizations. 

In IST 301 students will learn the basic principles of organizational design, including the various ways an organization can be structured, the importance of culture in determining underlying rules and values for the organization, and the relationship of tasks and information flows as they support decision-making and activities. Students will also gain a better appreciation for the importance of diversity within the organization, as well as explore the role that organizational ethics plays in the operations of the organization. 

From an IT systems design perspective, students will learn how IT systems can support individuals, teams, and distributed work. Students will explore the way that information collected in one part of the organization can be combined with information collected elsewhere to inform the organization’s employees and decision-makers.


  • IST 210
  • IST 220


Upon successful completion of IST 301, students will be to accomplish the following:

  • Organizational Strategy and Enterprise Architecture – Students will understand how organizational strategy drives business processes and technology decisions.
  • Organizational Structure – Students will be able to analyze the organizational structure of a variety of organizations based on the characteristics of organizational design, information processing, and information flow.
  • Digital Transformation -- Students will be able to identify the organizational benefits and costs/risks of adopting a digital business model.
  • Organizational Culture – Students will be able to analyze an organization's culture, including underlying rules, values, and norms regarding power and politics, gender and diversity, and global differences.
  • Organizational Ethics – Students will be able to identify ethical issues underlying a given situation.
  • Organizational Decision Making – Students will be able to identify relevant stakeholders and anticipate the types of information needed to support organizational tasks and decision-making at multiple levels in the organizational structure.


  • TBD


  • Harvard Business School Publishing - readings & case studies available for purchase at: Instructors Update with Your HBSP link before the start of the semester
  • Kim, G., Behr, K., Spafford, G. (2014). The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win. IT Revolution: Portland. ISBN 9780988262508
    • An online version of this text is available at no cost as a Penn State Library E-Book and can be accessed through Library Resources in the course navigation. Some E-Books will only be available online, while others will be available to download in full or in part. You may choose to use the E-Book as an alternative to purchasing a physical copy of the text. For questions or issues, you can contact the University Libraries Reserve Help.

Assignments & Grading

Grading Category Percentage of Final Grade
Tests  47%
Quizzes  15%
Case Questions (CQs)   7%
Book Questions   7%
Activity Assignments   1%
Individual Project   8%
Group Project  15%
TOTAL 100%

Course Grading Scale

The following are minimum cutoffs for each grade:

  • 93.00% = A
  • 90.00% = A-
  • 87.00% = B+
  • 83.00% = B
  • 80.00% = B-
  • 77.00% = C+
  • 70.00% = C
  • 60.00% = D
  • less than 60.00% = F

Course Policies and Expectations


  • There are weekly quizzes. Usually there is one quiz per week (excluding exam weeks), however there are some weeks where there are two quizzes.
  • Quizzes are timed. Do not expect to have time to look up quiz answers.
  • Quizzes are to be taken "closed book, closed notes." 


  • Late Assignments: Assignments are expected by the due date. Unless otherwise specified, assignments are due by Sunday midnight. Assignments can be turned in up to two days late and will be assessed a minimum of 40% penalty. Assignments submitted after 48 hours from the due date/time will NOT be accepted.
  • Format of Submissions: .doc(x), .pdf or direct text entry are acceptable submission formats in most cases. All other submission types will not be graded.


  • Contacting instructor: You can contact the instructor regarding any concerns you have with this class, with your educational experience in general, and with life. 
  • Logging into Canvas: Students are expected to login regularly to check for course updates, announcements, emails, discussions, etc.
  • Emailing through Canvas: Students are expected to use Canvas for all course email communication.


Slackers beware! There are several team assignments throughout the course. These carry more weight than other assignments. These team assignments have a team grade component and an individual grade component. Peer Evaluations  will be used to inform the individual grade on team assignments.

Academic Integrity

Penn State and the College of Information Sciences and Technology are committed to maintaining Penn State's policy on Academic Integrity in this and all other courses. We take academic integrity matters seriously and expect you to become a partner to the University/College standards of academic excellence.

For more information, please review these policies and procedures:

While utilizing additional sources outside of this class is encouraged for gaining a better understanding of course concepts, seeking explicit answers for graded assignments from outside sources (e.g. Course Hero, Chegg, tutoring services like, etc.) is considered CHEATING and will not be tolerated. Sanctions range from failure of the assignment or course to dismissal from the University. Additionally, sharing course content without permission is a violation of copyright and may result in university sanctions and/or legal ramifications. Contact your instructor with questions related to this topic. 

University Policies

Review current information regarding various Penn State policies (such as copyright, counseling, psychological services, disability and military accommodations, discrimination, harassment, emergencies, trade names, etc.) on the University Policies page.

Penn State takes great pride to foster a diverse and inclusive environment for students, faculty, and staff. Acts of intolerance, discrimination, or harassment due to age, ancestry, color, disability, gender, gender identity, national origin, race, religious belief, sexual orientation, or veteran status are not tolerated and can be reported through Educational Equity via the Report Bias webpage (


Find extensive information and links to many Penn State and IST resources (including the Penn State libraries, video conferencing tools, technology and software, writing and research help, and much more) on the Resources page.

Technical Requirements

Standard World Campus computer technical specifications are assumed for this course. Please test your computer for requirements. In addition, a webcam and a headset with a microphone are REQUIRED for the course. These may be used for virtual meetings, virtual office hours, interactions with classmates and your instructor, and group presentations - which are all conducted with virtual meeting tools. No special software is required.


The following schedule outlines the topics covered in this course, along with the associated time frames, readings, activities, and assignments. All due dates reflect Eastern Time (ET). Specifying the time zone ensures that all students have the same deadlines, regardless of where they live.

Course Summary:

Date Details Due