Information Systems and Users

The purpose of this document is to provide an increased or basic knowledge of how users interact with information systems by utilizing input and output devices, computer performance factors, network performance issues, and correlating them to the online virtual campus.

When viewing the American Intercontinental University online virtual campus system as an information system, it is important to realize there are different components of the system and how they tie together. One key component to the online virtual campus is that users need input and out devices and what types there are in order to access and use the campus. When using the virtual campus it is important to know what type of information system it is, i.e. application software or system software. It is also instrumental to know that when users access the information system what components of their hardware devices as well as their network connections affect the performance of the information system. Finally it is important to know which data needs to be managed within the information system.

In order to know what types of input and output devices are necessary to interact with the AIU virtual campus it is good to know what the differences between input and output devices are as well as how they are used. A definition of an input device is anything that can be used for the interaction between the real world and the computer world. This means devices such as keyboards, mice, microphones, cameras, and even some security devices to gain access to a computer such as a biometric device. Output devices are any type of device that is used to communicate information from a data processing system to a user in the real world. Some examples of output devices are monitors, speakers, and printers. When a user attempts to log into the information system they use an input device such as a keyboard to type in their logon credentials. The information system then verifies their credentials to their security policies in order to ensure the user is authorized to access the system. The information system processes the requested data and sends it back to the user and displays it on the users output device i.e. monitor. The use of input and output devices is how users interact with an information system in order to retrieve the desired results.

Is the AIU online virtual campus an application software or system software? To best understand weather the AIU virtual campus is application software or system software it is important to know what the difference is between the two. Application software is a piece of software that uses the capabilities of the system software in order to produce the tasks and results the user wishes to perform. System software is software that is involved with incorporating the computer’s capabilities, but does not always apply them to tasks that directly benefit the user (2008). A good example of the difference between software application and system software would be to say an example of a software application is a light bulb. An example of system software would be to call it a power plant. It is possible for the power plant to produce energy in the form of electricity that may not affect the user until an application for the energy is needed, like turning on the light switch for the light bulb. With knowing the differences between application software and system software it is apparent that the AIU online virtual campus is application software.

There are different devices that can affect the performance at which an information system is accessed or information is processed within the information system. One of the 1st and foremost devices, which directly affect the way information, is accessed or processed is the type of connection being used to access the system. For example if a student is on the online virtual campus via the campus Gigabit Ethernet network, the performance is going to be much greater than a user who is thousands of miles away using a 56Kbps dialup modem. High bandwidth connections are not always needed as within the dated mainframe systems that would have a 9.6k dumb terminal directly connected to it. This dumb terminal could product results quicker than the high bandwidth Gigabit Ethernet connection due to it being directly connected to the system it was processing data from. Another key aspect to the performance of an information system is the amount of Random Access Memory (RAM) on the system. Random access memory is a volatile memory that is in the form of integrated circuits that are used to store information. When the RAM on a system is completely full, the computer system will then start to write information to the local hard drive as an additional memory, this is called swapping (Alex, 2003). Although swapping may be good the system is intelligent enough to use other components as additional memory, it does greatly affect the performance of the system.

Since we know the AIU virtual campus is a system application, how users access that system, and what components affect the performance of the system, there is one last thing to know about and it is definitely the most important thing. The most important and most valuable thing that pertains to any information system is the information or data itself. On any network or any information system, if one component fails it is recoverable, however if data is lost this is not recoverable, except by recreating the data. The AIU virtual campus consists of different components within the application system, but the most important is the database, which contains all of the information. Databases are an integral part of information systems, not only because they store the data, but also because users can query the data to produce specific results. For example if a user wanted to look up information about John Doe, they would query the database for any instances of Doe, John and then they could filter the information down to the dates John Doe attended the school, what types of grades the student received, mailing address, and any other pertinent information to the student. Databases within information systems store the most valuable information for that information system.
In conclusion, the AIU online virtual campus is a software application that runs on a computer system. The input and output devices are how users interact between the real world and the computer world. Their network connections as well as their computer bus speed, and the amount of RAM in their computer can all directly affect the performance of how a user interacts with the information system. When a user interacts with the information system what they are really doing is querying a database in order to produce the results the user was looking for. Out of any of the entire information system the data contained within the database is the most important and needs to be protected and managed accordingly.


1. (2008). System software Definition: TechEncyclopedia from TechWeb. Retrieved July 23, 2008, from system software Definition: TechEncyclopedia from TechWeb Web site:
2. Alex, P (2003). Computer Performance factors. Retrieved July 23, 2008, from Computer Performance factors Web site:

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