Special Topics Courses

This page contains descriptions for special topics offered at SILS (regularly offered courses are listed separately).
Special topics courses are developed to cover emerging issues or specialized content not represented in the main curriculum.
Not all courses are offered each semester—see the course schedule for availability.

Fall 2016:

089: First Year Seminar: Social Movements and New Media (3 credits) Tufecki

Movements ranging from uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt and beyond to "Occupy" protestors in the United States have been using new media technologies to coordinate, to organize, to intervene in the public sphere as well as to document, share, and shape their own stories. Using a range of tools from Facebook to Twitter, from satellite modems to landlines to ad-hoc mesh networks, these movements have made their mark in history.

The objective of this course is to enhance our conceptual and empirical understanding of the interaction between the new media ecology and social change. We will explore various approaches to studying social movements and social change and look at specific cases.

Governments and powerful institutions are also responding to the challenge posed by the emergence of the Internet as a mundane and global technology. From increased surveillance and filtering capacity, to delivering propaganda over the Internet to their own, from "hacking" of dissident websites to sophisticated methods of censorship, governments around the world are broadening their repertoire of social, technical and legal tools for control and suppression of --and through-- the Internet.

We will explore the integration of new media tools within these movements as well governmental and institutional responses to these developments. We will also discuss the rapidly changing and contested terrain for shaping the infrastructure of global connectivity.
Materials for this class will include readings, videos (not to be viewed in class but as material to be viewed), and a variety of visiting speakers (both in person and via Skype).
(3 credits)

490-089: Information for a Sustainable World Part 1 (1.5 credits) Marchionini

This special course is offered to well-prepared undergraduate and graduate students who want to understand how to gather and organize information resources related to natural resources and how such information can influence behaviors. In this seminar we will focus on how Jordan Lake is the nexus of a water-food-energy resource for our region. This will include the tributaries and land around the lake and how the long-term sustainability of the region can benefit by leveraging good information to change human and enterprise behaviors toward more economical and environment-friendly patterns. The course is project based and will identify and aggregate best practices, tools, techniques, simulations/games and other materials that inform 'smart community' actions. The seminar will include field trips to meet with stakeholders and will culminate in information 'packages' that aim to inform people about how behaviors influence the local water-food-energy nexus. A follow up course will be offered in the Spring semester that aims to take the information packages and develop an action plan to promote public awareness and behavior change.

490-247: Telling Your Story: Representing Yourself in Business Settings (1.5 credits, meets August 24-October 12) Nelson

Students will learn how and when to use personal stories during presentations, collaborations, and workplace conversations. Some of the types of stories covered will include: stories that inspire trust or confidence, stories that give insight into your character and motivations, and stories that tactfully give advice. This course will contain a performance element.

690-163W: Information Analytics (3 credits) Rajasekar

Pre-req: INLS 560 or equivalent. The data explosion experienced by computerization of every aspect of our lives from social media to internet of things requires a deeper look at information analytics. The course introduces proven and emerging analytical techniques that can be used to deal with mountains of mostly unstructured data. We will look at several analytical paradigms from Predictive Modeling to Data Mining, Text Analytics to Web Analytics, Statistical Analysis to novel paradigms in Map Reduce and Storm, and from Crowd Sourcing to Scientific Workflows. Knowledge of programming is essential.

690-172: Usability Testing and Evaluation (3 credits) Capra

This course will introduce central concepts in usability engineering, testing, and evaluation. These include: UX lifecycle, interaction models, contextual inquiry, modeling and task analysis, rapid evaluation and inspection techniques, UX goals and metrics, formal and informal evaluation techniques, usability moderation, test plans, testing environments, analysis, and reporting.

690-189: Big Data, Algorithms, and Society (3 credit) Tufekci

690-207: Community Archiving (3 credits) Anthony

Prerequisite: INLS 556. A number of archivists are advocating for a new, collaborative model of archiving that empowers communities to look after their own records "by partnering professional archival expertise with communities' deep sense of commitment and pride in their own heritage and identity." This class will explore the many ideas and issues surrounding this new model by working with a local community group to develop a comprehensive strategy for collecting, describing and maintaining their historical records in both analog and digital formats. The work will be informed by discussion of relevant literature and examination of other community archiving projects.

690-222: Social Informatics (3 credits) Jarrahi

Understanding technological innovation, computerization, and the context of technology use are central to understanding the social fabrics of our today's society. The object of this course is to explore different conceptualizations of how technology shapes organizations, communities and societies, and how it is shaped by social forces. We will draw on multiple theoretical developments from the field of Science and Technology Studies (e.g., actor-network theory and social construction of technology), social informatics and computer-supported cooperative work to enable better understanding of the interaction between humans and technology at personal, organizational and societal levels.

690-224: Visual Analytics (3 credits) Gotz

This course will provide an overview of Visual Analytics, a topic that combines information visualization and data analysis to support analytical reasoning via highly interactive visual interfaces. The course will review foundational concepts, recent results, and commonly used technologies. The course is project-oriented and will require that students program their own web-based visualization systems using HTML and JavaScript. While no specific courses are considered pre-requisistes, students should be competent programmers. Prior experience with web programming (e.g., HTML and JavaScript) is strongly recommended.

690-239: Everyday Life Information Practices (1.5 credits, meets August 26-September 30) Thomson

This course explores theoretical and empirical literature regarding the information practices of ordinary people in everyday life (i.e., "non-work") contexts. It also touches upon the methodological approaches used in such research, as well as the deciphering of what is 'informational' in any setting. Topics considered include: (1) contextual elements (e.g., life worlds, stocks of knowledge, norms, values) shaping patterns of information practices in the everyday; (2) use of newspapers, radio, television, the Internet, and non-conventional media to meet information needs; (3) information practices arising from problem-driven/compromised and pleasurable/leisure-related everyday life situations (e.g., health, parenting, diversity, and hobby pursuits); (4) barriers to information access and information poverty; and (5) public libraries and other institutional providers of everyday.

690-240: Emotions During Information Interactions (1.5 credits, meets October 7-December 2) Thomson

This course explores the affective, or emotional, dimension of information interactions and encounters across a range of contexts, including academic, professional, and everyday life (i.e., non-work), and in online environments and design-centric domains. Scenarios in which emotions are motivators, by-products, and consequences of human information interactions are considered, as is the spectrum of emotions, from the positive and even profound to the negative and problem-fraught. Both theoretical and empirical literature will be considered, and students will become familiar with one 'affectively amenable' methodological technique—the guided tour—applying it in a small-scale, individual, and original research study.

690-246: Digital Textual Scholarship: An Introduction to Text Encoding, Text Editing, and Distant Reading (3 credits) Hill

The course will serve as an introduction to a number of problems/research questions in the field of digital textual scholarship. Issues covered include text encoding, digital scholarly editing, the creation of custom corpora, distant reading techniques, and natural language processing. No programming background is required, although we will do some programming in class. By the end of the course, students will have read a number of seminal articles in the field, encoded a text in TEI, created their own custom corpus, and done some basic textual analysis on their corpus.

690-248: Oral Culture in Modern Times (1.5 credits, meets October 17-December 6)Nelson

This course will examine the place of the spoken word in our contemporary, text-heavy culture. We will cover a brief history of orality, discuss modern unmediated oral transmission (such as face-to-face conversations), modern mediated oral transmission (such as YouTube), and oral communications that have been rendered obsolete by text. We will ask questions such as: How has the spoken word changed over time? What do we lose when oral communication becomes mediated? What do we gain? What motivates us to keep talking to each other?

690-249: Copyright and Intellectual Property Issues in Archives (1.5 credits, meets October 11-December 6) Anthony

In an increasingly digital world in which researchers expect to find primary source material available to them online, many archivists are concerned about violating intellectual property rights. If I digitize this document and publish it online am I infringing on someone's copyright? Is social media in the public domain? Does anyone own a Tweet? This course will cover intellectual property rights laws, how these effect the use of materials in archives and the best practices archivists have developed to deal with these issues.

690-250: Child and Young Adult Development for Librarians (1.5 credits, meets October 11-December 6) Sturm

This course covers the basic theories of human development, with a focus on school-age children. It will explore the research basis and theories of cognitive, social, emotional and physical development, as well as the factors that contribute to human development, such as ethnicity, culture, family, society, peers and schools. The course will also focus on issues relevant to human development in a school or public library setting.

Spring 2016:

089: First Year Seminar: Smart Cities (3 credits) Rajasekar/Rademaker

A smart city is one where the needs of a populace meet the needs of environmental sustainability. The balance between the social and environmental issues is governed by Information and Communication Technologies (ICT) that power a smart city infrastructure. In this course, we learn about the influence of urban networks, smart city urban planning, energy as a catalyst of sustainable development, smart city infrastructure, sustainable transportation, flow of information and communications, smart grids, digital infrastructure and the role of data and information technology. We will discuss criteria for measuring the smartness of a city, including quality of life, citizen governance, and discuss issues that go towards the making of a future smart city. Several case studies will be presented with guest lecturers invited to present on critical thinking and practices in smart city development. (3 credits)

490-172: Fundamentals of Programming Information Applications (3 credits, for undergraduates only) Capra

This course provides fundamental skills needed to design, implement, and maintain computer applications focused on information processing, management, retrieval, and presentation. Students will learn object-oriented programming, data structures, algorithm analysis, and data processing techniques in the context of information science topics such as metadata harvesting, information retrieval, text analysis, and user interfaces. The course combines conceptual understanding of data structures and algorithms with practical techniques for implementation and debugging. Uses the Python language. Pre-requisite: COMP 110, Introduction to Programming, or the equivalent.

490-176: Human Factors in Systems Design (3 credits) Barlow

Designing useful, usable, and appealing software, mobile applications, and consumer products requires consideration of human factors of the user's interaction with the system. The focus is human engineering design based in human sensory, motor, and cognitive capabilties. Through examples drawn from a variety of domains, the class will cover: History of human factors; Human perceptual, cognitive, and motor abilities; problem solving when interacting with human-made systems; the influence of technology on decision making; The sources of human error; User engagement; How people fit into technologicial systems; and social interactions around technology. The objectives of the course are: 1)To provide students with an understanding of the fundamental human factors that must be taken into account in system design and 2) whethere working on websites, automobile interiors, mobile devices, games, office productivity software, and enterprise softwrae, demonstrate there are common human engineering principles that must be considered in all systems design.

690-163: Database Systems III (1.5 credits, meets January 12- February 25) Rajasekar

Prerequisite(s): INLS 623 Database Systems II or equivalent. In this course we study concepts in database planning and administration. Topics include relational database configuration, administration and monitoring, security, performance tuning and disaster recovery. We will also touch upon emerging concepts in NoSQL database and Hadoop administration.

690-170: Introduction to Legal Research (1.5 credits, meets January 12-February 25) Kimbrough/Street

This course offers students experience using and comparing a broad range of legal research tools. The course will introduce students to major legal publishers, databases, and vendors. Students will learn a complete method for conducting basic legal research. The course will introduce and explain primary legal materials, including statutes, court opinions, and administrative law, as well as a variety of secondary sources and practice materials. The course also covers free, low-cost, and cost efficient research.

690-187: Issues in Cloud Computing

Cloud computing claims to be a fundamentally new paradigm in which computing services and resources is migrating from personal computers sitting on a person's desk (or lap) to large, centrally managed datacenters. We will evaluate this claim based on the basic paradigm of cloud computing. Next we will examine the technical characteristics and the business reasons for cloud computing. We will discuss common commercial and open source offerings. Emphasis will be placed on cloud answers to common business computing issues, like scalability of processing and storage, security, relational and other database models. Issues of privacy and security will also be addressed.

This will be a reading intensive course, with all material coming from open sources or from the university's electronic holdings

690-213: Rare Book Collection Fundamentals (1.5 credits, meets January 11-February 29) Funke

What is the place of rare book collections in today's landscape of knowledge and information resources? This course provides an introduction to the fundamentals of defining, developing, and administering rare book collections. Learning will be accomplished through class lectures, outside assigned readings, and the hands-on examination of books as artifacts.

690-216: Social Sciences Information (1.5 credits, meets January 12-February 25) Bardeen

Prerequisite: INLS 501. Survey of information and its needs in the social sciences, with an emphasis on information use and search strategies and on reference and other information resources.

690-217: Humanities Information (1.5 credits, meets March 2-April 27) Holloway

Prerequisite: INLS 501. Survey of information and its needs in the humanities, with an emphasis on information use and search strategies and on reference and other information resources.

690-224: Law Librarianship (1.5 credits, meets March 1-April 26) Kimbrough/Street

This course provides students with an overview of law librarianship and administrative principles as applied to the functions, organization, and procedures of law libraries. The course will introduce students to the different types of law libraries, including academic, private, and government libraries, and will cover issues including governance, standards and policies in law libraries. Students will learn about the variety of roles taken on by law librarians in collection management, reference, digitization, and management. Drawing on recent law library scholarship as readings, students will be tasked with handling real-world decisions regarding collection development, negotiating with vendors over licensing agreements, dealing with cost-recovery for legal research tools, educating new attorneys on legal research, preserving print and digital content, and managing print and electronic collections.

690-230: Information Exchange/Seeking in Local/Place-Based Communities (1.5 credits, meets March 3-April 26) Gibson

This 1.5 credit course is designed to help students develop a better understanding of information needs, seeking, and sharing in local and community settings. Students in this course will become familiar with ILS literature focusing on face-to-face interactions in a variety of community settings, as they plan a project designed to support or improve information seeking or sharing in a local, place-based community. Students will leave the course with tools for the following:

- Identifying actors/stakeholders within a local community

- Understanding the information needs/behaviors of a group within the community

- Reasoning through the implications of those needs for programming and services in the chosen setting/organization

690-242: Data Sharing Among Scientists (1.5 credits) Christian

This course will explore different issues related to data sharing among scientists. Students will look at different forms of data in different disciplines, and will learn the roles of data in scholarly research life cycle and research collaboration; relationships between data, data creators, data repositories, and data curators; basic principles of public policies for data and data management.