Educational information systems and networks

0858-606, Summer 2022

Description: From a foundation of computer networks and systems, this course expands to cover instructional technology infrastructure: file systems, users, wired and wireless networks, email, web servers, computer labs, and common educational software services. This course focuses on Free Software; where the source code is free to use, study, or modify. To explore these topics in this hands on class all students will be configuring their own Raspberry Pi computers and using them to complete a software/hardware project.

Keywords: linux, bash, systems, networks, lamp, free software, trouble shooting, technical project management, rasberry pi, physical computing, debian, ubuntu

computer chip

Goals & Objectives

This course introduces students to the key concepts in current networked computing in order to develop a conceptual framework for configuring and troubleshooting computing systems. Upon completing this course they will be able to:

Class Information

Course Communications

This online course will have a mix of synchronous and asynchronous assignments. The synchronous sessions, “live lab,” will be held each Wednesday, via Zoom, 4:30pm to 6:20pm.

Participants in this course must actively participate in our suite of online communications tools, including Slack (, Adelphi email, and the course website.

You must check your Adelphi email and the #code channel on Slack at least once a day during this short summer course. It is highly recommended that you install the Slack mobile client and an email client on your mobile phone so that you receive “push notifications” of course announcements.

The best place to post general course questions and any content-related questions is the #code Slack channel. The instructor, as well as other students and alums, monitor this channel and often provide immediate support. You are encouraged to contact the instructors at any time via email or direct message on Slack.

Online tools:

You should already be comfortable with these skills, or should be prepared to learn them during the course. Teaching them is not part of the course content.

Getting remote help:

Because of the hands on nature of working with computers and networks, you will have to use a variety of tools to get help. Your first stop for help should be #code on Slack. You are most likely to get quick help if you post here because anyone in the channel (instructors, other students, other faculty, ed tech alums) can lend a hand.

For more complicated problems, you will need to be able to:

Required Materials


There are no required


You must have access to a desktop or laptop computer running Linux, Windows, or MacOS to participate in this course. Further, you must have an administrative account where you can fully configure the computer and install software. “Work” computers where you are not an admin are not sufficient. If your hard drive doesn’t have at least 10GB of free space, you should start clearing space or purchase an external drive.

You will use this computer to participate in the course online and to complete the course projects and activities. You can use a phone or tablet for some online elements of the course, however you will not be able to complete course assignments without access to a computer where you are able to install software.



Week Date Topic
1 Wed, Jun 1 Computers & Operating Systems
2 Wed, Jun 8 The Command Line
3 Wed, Jun 15 Users, Groups, Files, & Permissions
4 Wed, Jun 22 Networks
5 Wed, Jun 29 Ethics

Grades & Assignments

Assignment Pct Due
Participation 20% ongoing
Quiz Design 20% ongoing
Web Software Project 30% 6/18
Final Group Project 30% 7/1


Because this is a short summer course (3 credits in 6 weeks), you should budget 10-15 hours each week for course work. Wednesday live lab sessions are required, but you will also spend significant time working through course materials at your own pace.

Your participation grade will consider preparation for live labs, timely management of your Trello projects, completion of the comprehension quizzes, and participation in Slack and Moodle discussions. Smaller (ungraded) weekly assignments will also be considered for your participation grade. You may earn bonus participation points if you go “above and beyond” in a week, especially by providing help or making full use of our classroom tools to ask good questions and share work.

Quiz Design

Working in a team of 3, you will be responsible for designing a 15 question quiz (via Google Forms) to check the basic understanding of the videos and readings for the week. The quizzes should consist of multiple choice (one answer or multiple “all that apply”) questions that can be automatically scored. You must provide a detailed answer key for every question. The questions should not be overly challenging, but should be based on the readings (not general knowledge). Anyone who carefully completes the readings should be able to score 13/15 points or better.

Quizzes are ungraded for the students taking them. Your team will receive a group grade for the quiz considering:

See the docs page for making quizzes with Google Forms.

Your quiz will be due by end of day on Tuesday and posted to the Moodle “Weekly Quiz” discussion as a new topic for your week. Please, also, leave comments and feedback for the quiz authors – but not until after the quiz is closed. Everyone must attempt the quiz before the start of class at 4:30 on Wed.

Web Software Project

For the first project, you will install the Ubuntu OS as a guest operating system on your computer. You will use Ubuntu to configure a server running one of the following popular web-based software systems:

  1. WordPress
  2. Moodle
  3. Ghost

Once you have the software installed, you will customize it for a specific use (that you decide). For example, you might configure WordPress as a classroom website, Moodle to support a summer course, or Ghost to host a personal newsletter or blog.

Submission Guidelines

To submit this project, you will upload a narrated screencast video of your project to VoiceThread (you can sign in with your Adelphi email account). If you do not want the video to be public, change the permissions so that it is an “unlisted” video. Only people with the link will be able to see it. Create a new thread in the discussion forum with a title for your project. Post the link to your video here, along with any supporting documentation (screenshots, code, config files).

Begin the video with a description of who the target users are of this software and what your goals are for them. Next, show your project from the user’s perspective, showing how it meets the needs of the use cases that guided you in designing the project. Next, you can, if appropriate, give a brief tour of the configuration files and scripts that make your project possible. Your video should be 5-6 minutes long.

Please take time to watch your classmate’s videos and post comments, questions, and suggestions.

This is an individual project.

Final Group Project

One of the key technical tasks of an educational technologist or instructional designer is to research and evaluate possible solutions to a problem and then implement a plan to test a possible solution. Real world problems often require the combination of several systems in a new way, suffer from incomplete or inaccurate documentation, and are hindered by time or resources/financial constraints.

With this in mind, you will choose a software project that you find interesting and engaging to pursue for your final project. You will be responsible for gathering/purchasing the materials to complete the project.

You will be evaluated on:

This is a group project with either 2 or three people per team. You and your team will work on the same project. You will share a Trello and set goals together. It will be up to you to decide who work is divided and the most effective way to collaborate and share resources.

Here are a few raspberry project ideas that will give you a sense of the size and scope of what you can do for your final project.

  1. MyCroft Open Source personal assistant
    MyCroft is a Free Software alternative to systems such as Alexa and Google Assistant. MyCroft is developed for Linux. It requires some attention to details to get all of the media components working properly. For this project, you will download and configure MyCroft for your VM; create and connect to your online account, configure and test the microphone and audio output, and customize the features and functionality of your RPI assistant. Start at the mycroft site for all of the information you need to get started.
  2. Jupyter Hub collaborative programming site
    Jupyter Hub is a collaborative version of the Jupyter Notebook software development environment. Set up a Jupyter Hub installation on your VM and configure it for use in a programming, math, or other learning environment that requires a shared coding environment.
  3. Ghost/Moodle/WordPress
    While you had to set up a basic version of these systems for the first project, they are complex softare systems with many templates, plug-ins, and customizations. Your team may choose to work on one of these to create a more complete website.
  4. Mattermost chat server
    Mattermost is a FOSS chat sever (similar to Slack) that you can host on your own sever for privacy and customizability.
  5. MagicMirror digital kiosk
    The magic mirror or smart mirror runs a customizable web server that serves as a digital kiosk (and, if desired, a magic mirror – a mirrored LCD monitor). Install the base
  6. Slack chatbot
    Using the Slack API, set up a server (e.g. Node or Python) and create an “app” that interacts, automatically, with Slack chat.
  7. Jekyll website
    Create a simple, static website using the Jekyll system and markdown syntax. Host it live on your own Github Pages site.

These are only a few suggestions. If you have something that you want to build, but aren’t sure the best way to accomplish it, please post your idea in Slack and we can investigate solutions as a team.

Submission Guidelines

To submit this project, you will upload a narrated screencast video of your project to VoiceThread. Begin the video with a description of who the target users are of this setup and what your goals are for them. Next, show your project from the user’s perspective, showing how it meets the needs of the use cases that guided you in designing the project. Next, you can, if appropriate, give a brief tour of the configuration files and scripts that make your project possible. Your video should be 8-10 minutes long. Submit one video per team.

Class Sessions

Week 1: Computers & Operating Systems

This week we will learn about core computer hardware, and the key software (Operating Systems) that drive computers. We’ll also learn about the specific hardware of our RPIs and install an operating system so we can take them out for a test drive. By the end of the week you should have either VirtualBox or Parellels installed on your computer and have created and installed a Virtual Machine (VM) running the Ubuntu operating system.

Guiding Questions:

  1. How does a modern computer work?### To Do:
  2. What makes a computer a computer?
  3. How is a computer an abstraction of many parts and processes?

Watch & Read:

  1. Watch the Week 1 Introduction Voice Thread (see Moodle)
  2. Computer Hardware (Computer parts Explained) [7:48]
  3. What is an OS? (Crash Course Computer Science) [13:35]
  4. Virtualization As Fast As Possible (Techquickie) [4:44] (the last 2 minutes are ads, skip it)
  5. Klint Finley. (April 24, 2019) The WIRED Guide to Open Source Software. WIRED.

To Do:

Complete all the videos/readings before the first live session on Wednesday.

  1. Join Slack and install the desktop and mobile apps (slack support)
  2. Create an account on Trello and install the mobile app (Trello Support)
  3. Install VirtualBox or Parallels
  4. Create a new virtual machine (VM) and install Ubuntu Desktop as the “guest” operating system.
  5. Get to know your new Ubuntu computer by installing software from the Software Shop and using it for some of your every day computing tasks.
  6. Read the syllabus and post any questions on Slack
  7. Take the “Computer and Operating Systems Quiz” – link on Moodle

Live Lab Agenda

  1. Welcome & Introductions
  2. Discussion of videos/readings
  3. Breakout Rooms
    1. Room A: Troubleshooting the VM install
    2. Room B: Configuring and using Ubuntu
  4. Getting ready for next week: terminal basics

Week 2: The Command Line

This week we will learn how to interact with our computer using the command line (aka terminal). The command line interface (CLI) offers an alternative to the graphical user interface (GUI) we are more familiar with. Wile the terminal hearkens back to the early days of computing, its still very much alive for systems administrators, software developers, and others. In particular, complex tasks can be accomplished with a few lines of text, remote computers can be easily accessed, and all manner of tasks can be automated (and scheduled). Specifically, after gaining fluency with the command line, you will be able to connect to a remote Linux server from your regular laptop or desktop computer in order to configure and control it. To get started on the command line we’ll check out Terminus, a game developed at MIT to introduce the players to the command line.

In addition to jumping into the command line, by the end of the week you will have customized your VM by installing software packages through apt and the GUI. You will also choose your topic for the first project and set up a Trello with a Board for your project and milestones for each week until it’s due.

Guiding Questions:

  1. How is a command line interface different from the more familiar graphical user interface?
  2. What is gained from a CLI? What is lost?

Watch, Play, & Read:

  1. Read What is Free Software?
  2. Watch Keyboards & Command Line Interfaces: Crash Course Computer Science #22[11:23]
  3. Play Terminus for at least an hour. Post on Slack how far you get.
  4. Read/review Ubuntu Command Line For Beginners

To Do:

  1. Update the software on your VM with apt (hint sudo apt update then sudo apt dist-upgrade)
  2. Install at least 2 programs on your RPI using apt or the Software center.
  3. Post in the FOSS Apps Discussion which apps you installed and a brief review of them.
  4. Create a Trello Board for your project and invite the course instructor as collaborator.
  5. Complete the “Command Line” quiz

Live Lab Agenda

  1. Welcome, questions
  2. Command line Quizlet
  3. Breakout rooms: A. WordPress working group B. Moodle working group C. Ghost working group
  4. Project ideas and Trello Updates

Week 3: Users, Groups, Files, & Permissions

As you’re working on finishing up your first project, we’ll take a deeper look at how files, permissions and security works in linux/unix operating systems. To better understand how to work with files, we’ll take a look at file archives (multiple files and directories combined in a single file) and compression (reducing the size of a file). Because your programs all run as a “user” (either root or their own user), it’s important to understand files and permissions to troubleshoot problems.

Guiding Questions:

  1. How do you secure digital resources?
  2. Is the unix approach of users and groups sufficient for all security needs?

Watch & Read:

  1. Watch Files & File Systems: Crash Course Computer Science #20 [12:02]
  2. Watch Compression: Crash Course Computer Science #21 [12:47]
  3. Read Understanding Basic File Permissions and ownership in Linux
  4. Watch Linux Terminal 201: How To Use tar, gzip, bzip2, and zip - HakTip 156 [11:32]
  5. Docs Ubuntu user security
  6. Docs How To Extract Zip, Gz, Tar, Bz2, 7z, Xz and Rar File in Linux

To Do:

  1. Finish the first project
  2. Complete the “Users & Groups” quiz

Live Lab Agenda

project working session

Week 4: Networks

How does the internet work? What happens after you hit enter on a search term on Duck Duck Go? How does Spotify get music to your phone then to your wireless earbuds? A deeper understanding of different networking hardware, software, and protocols will help us better understand the networked software we’re installing, configuring, and troubleshooting.

Guiding Questions:

  1. How does the internet work as a collection of networks?
  2. How does a multi-layered model allow for abstraction between different layers?


  1. How the Internet Works in 5 Minutes [4:48]
  2. The Internet: IP Addresses & DNS [6:44]
  3. The Internet: Wires, Cables & Wifi [6:41]
  4. The Internet: Packets, Routing & Reliability [6:25]

To Do:

  1. Post (with a partner) a written report on one of the network topics (see full instructions below).
  2. Choose a topic and form a team for the final project. Create a Trello board for it and share it with your partners and the instructor.
  3. Complete the “Networks & Internet” quiz.

Networking Topic Report Instructions

For a more in-depth look at networking, you will work with a partner to write a mini report on a related topic. Please: a) choose a partner, and b) choose a topic from the list below. If you have an idea for a different topic, you may write about that with approval from the instructors. By the end of the week, please post your report directly into our Networking Topics forum. Your report should be roughly 500-800 words. It should give an overview of the topic, summary of how it works, and discussion of how it’s used and why it is (or isn’t) important. Read through the other posts, and ask any follow-up questions. The instructor and topic authors will do their best to answer your questions.

Possible topics:

  1. Bluetooth
  2. Mesh network
  3. Near Field Communication (NFC)
  5. 4g/5g/6g
  6. BitTorrent
  7. Dark Web
  8. Radio-frequency identification (RFID)
  9. Bluetooth Beacons
  10. Web3

Week 5: Ethics

As Spider-Man learned, with great power comes great responsibility. We trust the people who run our networks to keep our information safe, and to not violate our trust while they do it. Along the way, they may face some hard choices, usually weighing the benefits of individuals versus the group. We’ll take a look at some of the ethical concerns in “big tech”, and also investigate how these same concerns appear in the context of schools and other educational institutions.

Guiding Questions:

  1. How do school systems balance student privacy and autonomy, with safety and learning efficiency?
  2. What are the key ethical concerns of embedding corporate interests (and technology) into public spaces like schools?


  1. Monitoring Student Social Media
  2. Student Data

To Do:

  1. Complete ethics readings and come to class prepared to discuss and debate.
  2. Update your Trello project with the work you’ve completed this week. Identify any issues and get help as needed.
  3. Complete the “Privacy & Ethics” quiz.

Week 6: Final Project Due

There is no class meeting, finish up your project and turn it in. Have a great summer!