Distinguished IS Educator Award

2012 Award Winner

Alan Dennis

Al Harris

Alan Dennis is Professor of Information Systems and holds the John T. Chambers Chair of Internet Systems in the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University. He earned a Bachelor of Computer Science from Acadia University in Nova Scotia, an MBA from Queen’s University in Ontario, and a Ph.D. in Information Systems from the University of Arizona in Tucson. He worked as a programmer and a consultant for several firms, before settling on academia as his career.

Alan wrote his first textbook on data communications and networking in 1996. Six editions later, the book is still a market leader. He has subsequently written another data communications and networking book and two systems analysis and design books. His current book project is a 3D virtual world “serious game” on information systems security whose goal is to radically change the way faculty teach and students learn.

Alan is a leading innovator in the move to electronic textbooks. He is the co-founder of Courseload, Inc., an etextbook startup. Courseload’s vision is to make learning customizable and social, and to change the way textbooks are sold to dramatically cut their cost. More than 50 colleges and universities use the Courseload software with books from leading publishers, open source content, coursepacks, and self-written material. With the Courseload model, colleges and universities contract directly with publishers to buy materials at prices significantly below the cost of used books. Every student is charged a course fee for the material, which is delivered through the university’s learning management system. Students can download or print as many copies as they like, although our research shows that once students start reading their books digitally, less than 10% choose to print. Instructors can add annotations to direct students about what to read or not read, to provide their interpretation of key parts of the book, or to ask questions to guide students’ reading. Instructors also can add web pages, videos, PDFs, PowerPoints, etc. into specific passages to customize the materials to the needs of their students. Students can add and share annotations, so that reading becomes a more social experience.

In his spare time, Alan enjoys snorkeling, skiing and hiking with his wife Kelly McNamara.