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TUI University

Ronald Donaldson


Module #1 Case

Socio-technical Systems

Dr. Howard
Coursenet & Socio-technical Design

The following analysis of TUI University’s academic content delivery system

(coursenet) will have as its primary objective, to surmise clean and orderly specifications

describing the foremost 'socio-technical systems' (STS) issues underlying the coursenet

educational collaboration system. In so doing, I will be offering an outline of commonly

accepted best practices regarding the analysis of socio-technical networks in general,

drawing from multiple sources so as to construct a logical framework upon which to

drape the characteristically pertinent concepts and ideas that are found peculiar to TUI's


Among the ideas borrowed from external sources regarding the accepted

consensus on socio-technical design, I will be reflecting extensively upon the 'six pitfalls',

(Computingcases.com) which have been found by their authors to potentially obscure the

effective resolution of STS issues. Additionally, lending to the platform of my position, I

will be implementing widely from the article, "OR42", and in particular, from the

principles found therein, that are derived from "Cherns" regarding STS theory, to include

his ten commonly accepted postulates on the subject. Also serving as a tremendous aid in

my work, and repeatedly referred to throughout my analysis is the five-component, visual

STS model of consideration drawn from "Nurminem", and also found on "OR42". These

widely accepted models and principles of STS, combined with further research, including

organizational case examples and any other sources found to be valid, contribute toward

my endeavor to elaborate upon critical STS issues involving coursenet, and ultimately

lead to an overall evaluative analysis of the socio-technical system as a whole.

Elements of a STS

To begin with, it’s important to first identify those elements within the STS that

stand out the most as being critical components of the overall network. In this manor, it is

then possible to create a point of reference from which to consider the more perplexing

issues arising from the many interactions and relationships between elements occurring

within the system. According to the authors of, "Computingcases.com", there are seven

primary elements, which comprise a socio-technical system. Put differently, it might be

said that a socio-technical system may be broken down into seven categories of

contributing elements. Those categories are: hardware, software, physical surroundings,

people, procedures, laws & regulations, and data & data structures.

Once these elements are identified, further assertions as to interrelationships

between them, impacts upon the STS, overall system strengths and weaknesses, and in

general, all further details concerning issues within the system that serve either to help or

hinder overall efficiency, can be made. Periodic assessment will also provide for a

snapshot of system-wide status at any given point in time. Below, I have included a table

of the aforementioned STS elemental categories along with their corresponding coursenet

related specifications. I’ve also provided space for user specifications so as to add further

perspective and organization to the model. Descriptions have been purposefully left short

and simple, serving primarily to illustrate the point. It should perhaps be noted that in

some places specifications are estimates and are not presumed true. Categories of STS

elements are derived from, (computingcases.com and ezinearticles.com.).

The 7 Categorical STS Elements of Coursenet

Specifications of Corresponding STS Elements

Category Coursenet Student Body
Workstations, servers, dedicated databases, PCs, peripherals, routers, modems, wiring,
Hardware routers, hubs, wiring, peripherals, etc. etc.
OSs, network OSs,, server OSs, coursenet OSs, browsers, utilities, applications, etc.
Software program code, utility applications etc.
Departmentalized office cubicles, Minimal stress environment, maximum
California, Academic organizational location and/or time of day flexibility.
Physical Surroundings structure, multiple story building, relatively
low stress environment.
Position/department specific responsibility Family, friends, preference of the student.
People and authority structure. Overseeing
organizational role/position hierarchy.
TUI’s internal regulatory and structural Adherences to procedure in accordance with
procedures, work ethic, hierarchically TUI University regulatory guidelines are to
Procedures defined standards, as well as regional be observed by the student body at all times.
accreditation standards and student body
regulations and procedures to uphold.
Equal opportunity, discrimination, grading Copyright observances and citation
Laws & Regulations policies in adherence to minimum inclusion. Minimum required knowledge
requirements and fairness to students, etc. base in subject area required by area, etc.
Database requirements and specifications, Access to TUI/coursenet servers and
server and network maintenance, related database, course materials, CD/books,
Data & Data Structures parties and organizations search engines, required reading and
communications/collaboration i.e. prior research recommendations, etc.
colleges, loan agencies, etc.