INFS 640 Spring 2012 Course Syllabus [Last updated: 21 January 2012]

Course Information:  Note, additional material will be posted on GMU Blackboard.


Course title:

Introduction to Electronic Commerce


Course number:

INFS 640, Section 001


Course discipline:

Major technologies and trends of Electronic Commerce (EC)


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 and will have enormous impact on our activities and the way we relate to people and organizations. This course will examine the major technologies and trends that enable eCommerce, including the Internet, security, software ad hardware architectures, policy and social/economic issues.

Topics Covered

The topics covered correspond to those chapters in the textbook, "E-commerce: business, technology and society, Third 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.           Web 2.0: Evolution & Technologies

4.           Building an E-Commerce Web Site

5.           Security and Encryption

6.           E-Commerce Payment Systems

7.           E-Commerce Marketing Techniques

8.           E-Commerce Applications: Business-to-Consumer, Consumer-to-Consumer, Business-to-Business, Digital Government, Marketplaces, and Communities.


Course dates:

January 23 through May 14, 2012



IN 132 (Innovation Hall)


Meeting day & time:

Mondays 4:30 to 7:10 PM.



INFS 501, 515, and 590, or equivalent

Instructor Information



Professor Alex Brodsky,




Office location:

Nguen Engineering Building, 4418


Office hours:

Tuesdays 4:00 -  5:30 pm



703-993-1529 (office)


Teaching Assistant (TA):

Sahil Khanna, office hours TBD

Grading Policy

Student grades will be determined based on class participation, homework assignments and papers, a final exam and a project:



Class participation




eCommerce Project and/or Research Paper on ecommerce (encouraged to focus on ecommerce market mechanisms and/or recommender systems)


Final Exam


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 grade guarantees:
>= 90% - A

>= 75% - B

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. If 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 reading:

E-Commerce : business. technology. society, Third Edition., Kenneth C. Laudon and Carol G. Traver, Pearson Prentice Hall, Inc., 2007.


Recommended reading:

Developing Web Applications, Ralph Moseley, John Wiley & Sons, Ltd., 2007.

Information Architecture for the World Wide Web, Third Edition, Peter Morville and Louis Rosenfeld, O'Reilly Media Inc., 2006.





Plain text, PDF, HTML, StarOffice/OpenOffice, OpenDocument, all accepted, but PDF preferred. MS format documents also accepted, but the instructor will have to convert them to one of the previous to do the conversion yourself. Upload all assignments to WebCT. 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

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 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"

·              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

Details on Class requirements


Class Participation

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



  1. eCommerce Web Site Review
  2. eCommerce Travel Reservation & Critque
  3. CBMG Interpretation

(detailed homework requirements will be provided in class and on Blackboard)


ecommerce project and/or research paper

·              ecommerce project may be focusing on any aspect of ecommerce. The desired outcome is a working system that can be demonstrated, possibly with a narrow scope.

·              ecommerce research paper should target a more challenging topic, focusing on existing problem in ecommerce, identifying a research gap (relatively to the state of art) and, ideally, suggesting a direction for solution. The idea is that the research paper could lead to an external publication.










Work assigned

Work due


Jan 23

Lecture 1




Jan 30

Lecture 2




Feb 3 – Friday!

Lecture 3. Note this meeting is instead of Monday, Feb 6.




Feb 6

No class




Feb 13

Lecture 4 – Guest lecturer: Dr. Kerschberg will talk about game changers in Electronic Commerce




Feb 20

Lecture 5




Feb 27

Lecture 6




Mar 5

Lecture 7




Mar 12

No class – Spring Break




Mar 19

Lecture 8




Mar 26

Lecture 9




Apr 2

Lecture 10




Apr 9

Lecture 11




Apr 16

Lecture 12




Apr 23

Lecture  13




Apr 30

Catch-up and review for Final Exam




May 7

No class – Reading Days




May 14

Final Exam – good luck!