INFS640/EC511 Spring 2009 Course Syllabus [Last updated: 24 Jan 2009]

Course Information

Course title:

Introduction to Electronic Commerce

Course number:

INFS 640, Section 001 (Also EC 511)

Course discipline:

Internet technologies

Course description:

Course Overview

The Internet and the World Wide Web are revolutionizing the way people, businesses and governments transact business via electronic commerce. This process is just beginning but is already having enormous impact on our activities and the way we relate to people and organizations. This course examines the major technologies and concepts that enable eCommerce, including the Internet, security and privacy, software and hardware architectures, policy, legal, and social/economic issues.

Topics Covered

The topics covered correspond to chapters in the textbook, eCommerce: business, technology and society, Fifth Edition, by Kenneth C. Laudon and Carol Guercio Traver. There will be additional readings made available through GMU's Digital Library, including articles from the ACM and IEEE Digital Libraries, and supplemental material presented during class sessions.

  1. E-Commerce Business Models and Concepts

  2. E-Commerce Infrastructure: The Internet and World Wide Web

  3. Building an E-Commerce Web Site

  4. eCommerce Threats, Privacy, Security and Encryption

  5. E-Commerce Payment Systems

  6. Web 2.0 & Beyond: Evolution & Technologies

  7. Selected additional topics as time allows

Course dates:

Monday January 26 through Monday May 11


Science & Technology 2, Room 15

Meeting day & time:

Mondays, 4:30 to 7:10 PM. Please arrive at class on time. We will start on time, have a short break in the middle of each class session, and try to finish shortly after 7:00 PM.


INFS 501, 515, and 590, or equivalent


INFS-640- INFS-640-001 1 - 200910

Instructor Information


Harry J. Foxwell, Ph.D. (GMU 2003),

Emails: In the Subject line of your email, use the prefix INFS640. For example:

Subject: INFS640: Question about Homework #1

Office location:

Science and Tech Building 2, Room 330 (see administrator)

Office hours:

By appointment.



Teaching Assistant (TA):

Mayur Bhot,,

Grading Policy

Student grades will be determined based on class participation, homework assignments, a research paper, and a project:



Class participation (in class, Blackboard online discussions, etc)




Research Paper on an eCommerce Topic


eCommerce Project


Grading Guidelines: Some assignment components are evaluated subjectively:

A: consistently above and beyond the course/assignment requirements
B: meets and occasionally exceeds the course/assignment requirements
C: minimally meets the course/assignment requirements
F: fails to meet the course/assignment requirements

Some assignment components are evaluated objectively:

A : 95-100%
A- : 90-95%
B+ : 85-90%
B : 80-85%
C : 70-80%

Honor Code

Objectives and Goals:

Honor Code

All work performed in this course will be subject to GMU's Honor Code. Students are expected to do their own work in the course unless a group project is approved by the instructor. In papers and project reports, students are expected to write in their own words, rather than cutting-and-pasting from sources found on the Internet. When you do use material from books, articles, and the Web, enclose the material in quotes and provide a reference. If a paragraph is used then it should be indented in the text (both left and right margins). [See Format below]


Required Text:

E-Commerce : business. technology. society, Fifth Edition., Kenneth C. Laudon and Carol G. Traver, Pearson Prentice Hall, Inc., 2009.



PDF preferred; plain text, HTML, StarOffice/OpenOffice, Open Document Format, MS format documents also accepted, but the instructor will have to convert to do the PDF conversion yourself. Upload all assignments to Blackboard. Papers should be formatted double-space, 10 or 12 point font, 1" margins. Use Chicago Manual of Style for guidance on citation style, usage, etc. (Don't buy the big CMS. See the smaller A Manual for Writers by Kate Turabian).

Writing Style

When grading papers and assignments, I generally assign 40% to the quality and thoroughness of the description, discussion, or explanation of the specific topic; examples and diagrams to clarify the text are strongly encouraged. Another 40% is assigned for the discussion of relevance to E-Commerce concepts and technologies. That is, the paper must make clear its relevance to E-Commerce. The final 20% relates to the quality and proper use of references. Reference other work within the text of your paper, and list the references at the end of the paper in a bibliography. Proper references are essential for crediting the work of others, and to help your readers locate the referenced material. See for one example of how to cite and list references.

Assume that the audience for your paper or assignment is an intelligent reader with computer knowledge who is not familiar with your specific paper topic.

  • Do not use slang or colloquialisms; some readers whose first language is not English may not understand phrases such as "the system was wedged", or "the program went for a toss"

  • Do not misuse terms nor use terms whose meanings are not clear, like "increased exponentially", or "steep learning curve"

  • Check your grammar and spelling; if you need help expressing yourself, get help from GMU's Writing Center at  Read the paper aloud to yourself or to a friend to help you indentify misused words and phrases.

  • Avoid jargon. Explain and reference concepts critical to your topic.

  • Expand NTAs [Non-Trivial Abbreviations] upon first use

  • Avoid meaningless marketing terms (like "seamless integration")

  • Read for some useful guidance on writing technical papers

Specific Assignments and Due Dates

Class Participation

Contribute to the in-class discussions, participate in online discussion topics posted on WebCT


Detailed homework requirements will be provided in class and on Blackboard

Research Paper

An analysis and discussion of a current social, economic, or technical issue in E-Commerce. Approximately 15-20 pages, use at least 3 major topic sources (books, research articles, Web sites).

  • Detailed topic and paper requirements will be provided in class and on Blackboard

  • Due Date: March 16


Implement and demonstrate a model Web 2.0 E-Commerce system.

  • Detailed project requirements will be provided in class and on Blackboard

  • Due Date: May 5