Fall, 2011

I212: Information and Society: Science and Technology Studies (STS) and Information Technologies.

The course changes with each offering, depending on what’s current in the field and the interests of the students enrolled, which tend to be an eclectic group. The previous offering closest to what we’ll be doing is here.

No pre-reqs, but not appropriate for undergrads (unless you can convince me otherwise).

TTh 2:00-3:30 in South Hall

Science and Technology Studies (STS) is an interdisciplinary field concerned with two areas of interest to us: the interaction between technology and the social; and knowledge communities. Recent years have seen increased interaction between STS and human-computer interaction (HCI), information and communication technologies for development (ICTD), and new media.

This class will be a seminar emphasizing close reading and discussion of some classic STS works, along with more current research, emphasizing that which is relevant to information and computing technologies, and knowledge communities. Our concern will be with how these can help us understand the relationships among information technology and new media, especially design; knowledge communities; and the social.

Topics will depend in part on who’s in the class and people’s interests. Past years’ topics include Social Construction of Technology (SCOT), Actor-Network Theory (ANT), Activity Theory, configuring users, epistemic cultures, situated action, reflective/critical HCI, and distributed cognition. Some of these topics are introduced in I203 but, of necessity, not in the depth. In I212, we address how these topics are useful for understanding the relationships among information technology, design, and the social. This course won’t help you get a job, but it may help you better understand what you are doing and why.

This class is open to any interested graduate student. It is particularly appropriate for I-School PhD students; I-School master’s students interested in conceptual issues underlying some of their more applied coursework; and graduate students doing a new media emphasis, and from related departments. Past students have been from departments as varied as architecture, mechanical engineering, and education.

Spring, 2011

I290. Visual Research Methods: Creating Visual Narratives

Interviews and direct observation activity are heavily used in both the business world and academia, for applied and academic research. Video, audio, or photographic records of people performing everyday activities or interacting with existing or new technologies, are used increasingly in both applied and academic research.

However, our knowledge about how to effectively use these records as data for analysis and for summarizing and reporting findings trails far behind our ability to create hours and gigabytes of video, audio, and still images.

In this seminar, we will address theoretical and practical issues of creating narratives using video, audio, and still images. We will read from areas such as visual anthropology and visual studies that address the nature of visual evidence; and we will get hands-on experience creating our own narrative reports.

This is not a heavy-duty media production class. We will use relatively accessible tools to practice producing examples of a range of media.

This course is appropriate for master’s and Ph.D. students from the I School and other disciplines. People in a wide variety of disciplines and professions need to collect visual data about people’s activities; make sense of it; and report it to others.

This course would be an excellent follow-on to I214, User Experience Research, or I272, Qualitative Research Methods for Information Systems and Management, or an equivalent, although there are no prerequisites. This course could also be taken prior to either of these courses. For second year I School master’s students, we’ll pay special attention to the making and use of visual media for final projects and presentations.

I295: Doctoral Colloquium

Fall, 2010

214, Needs and Usability Assessment (User Experience Research)

Spring, 2009

I212, Information and Society: Critical Technology Studies: Science and Technology Studies and Reflective HCI

M 1-4 (but see below)
Location: 202 South Hall
CCN: 42575 (3 units)

This spring's I212 will combine an intro to science and technology studies (STS) with reflective Human-Computer Interaction(HCI). The goal is to look at a variety of ways of understanding how people use, adapt, and domesticate information and communication technologies, and how these might affect HCI and ICT design. We will look at a lot of both theoretical literature and practical studies.

This is *not* a technical class, but will instead focus on how to motivate and evaluate design from many perspectives. It'll be useful for technology designers, but especially for students interested in expanding their understanding of the relevant literature and theoretical perspectives.

In this class, we'll define both HCI and STS loosely. HCI is concerned with the interaction between people and technology, and design that fits people's practices and needs. HCI has gradually expanded its scope to include more and more of the human sciences. Reflective HCI seeks to surface the often-unstated assumptions and values embedded inn HCI. Science and Technology Studies (STS) is a multi-disciplinary field rooted mostly in the social sciences, but also history and philosophy, that addresses the relationship between society and technology. Much of reflective HCI is rooted in STS.

We'll look at alternative theories from STS and HCI but also from communications studies and related fields. Exact topics will depend on who's in the class and what our collective interests are.


I290-13 Digital Narratives: Do-It-Yourself Texts and Other Kinds of Digital Storytelling with Elizabeth Churchill
CCN: 42875.
Time: Wed. 2-4
Location: 110 South Hall

*May change slightly -- contact vanhouse@ischool and I'll explain.

Current developments in multimedia technology are leading to increased use of a variety of media for representation for communication. These include still images, video, animation and audio as well as text. A number of existing applications make it increasingly easy for people to develop their own multimodal "texts" without special expertise. The question is: How are people using these resources? How can they be effectively used? And how can these resources be better designed to support these efforts?

We will look at two common applications areas to investigate these questions:
(1) Do It Yourself: construction and use of multimodal resources for showing, teaching, and learning in the field of do-it-yourself (crafts, building, repair, and related activities without professional help); and
(2) Digital story-telling, for personal/collective history but for other purposes as well.

Our reasons for choosing these two areas: there's considerable interest, activity, and user-generated content in each. This interest is likely to continue and grow (they aren't current fads).

These areas share some similarities: they can benefit from both pre-existing and specially-constructed visual, audio, and textual resources. Both are of considerable interest among non-professionals, as leisure activities. Both have a narrative element to them, whether it's the story of an event, or how to do something from beginning to end. The audiences for both are more or less peers.

They differ in their goals, and the kinds of stories that they tell and information resources use and create. Interestingly, these areas often overlap, as apprentices learn techniques and stories from their predecessors and mentors. In this way, traditions and practices continue and evolve. Both can benefit from using technology to tell stories and track revisions. And both are likely to be intertextual, linking to and drawing on existing resources.

This is not a technology design course; we do not expect students to build new technologies, although we will explore the space of potential designs to address emerging creative needs and directions. We will, as far as possible, rely on existing technologies. However, these will be treated as prototypes; we will ask how these (or similar) technologies could be better designed to suit the understandings that emerge from this course.

Students don't necessarily need to be interested in either of these application areas. We'll treat these areas as examples. Students may well bring to the course other areas of interest that share some of these key elements.


Fall, 2008

I214, Needs and Usability Assessment, with Liz Goodman
TuTh 2-3:30
110 South Hall
MOT Related Course
CCN: 42563 (3 units)

This course addresses concepts and methods ofuser experience research. This includes (1) the topic and concepts of user experience; (2) social science research methods applied to user experience; (3) common concepts, methods, and issues in professional practice. We will practice a number of major usability assessment methods, including heuristic evaluation, surveys and focus groups, and naturalistic/ethnographic methods. We will discuss methods of bringing user experience research and understanding into the design process. (This is not a design course.) We also question common assumptions about users, designers, technology, and the design process.

This course is appropriate for both 1st and 2nd-year iSchool students, and for students from other departments with a strong interest in user-based design and assessment, with the instructor's permission. Students will complete at least one major group project related to user experience research.

I295. Doctoral Colloquium
Time: TBD
Location: 205 South Hall
CCN: 42599 (1 units)
For iSchool PhD students

Spring, 2008

I212, Information in Society: Digital Media and Personal Memory (with Elizabeth Churchill)

Much of the design around digital media used for personal(and colelective) memory is based on unexamined assumptions about memory and remembering. The emerging field of Memory Studies is primarily rooted in cultural studies, with little connection to work developing technologies of memory. In this seminar, we drew on literature in a variety of domains, including models of memory from history and cognitive science; archives; narrative; and HCI.

During the course, we wrote this: Nancy Van House and Elizabeth Churchill (2008). Technologies of Memory: Key Issues and Critical Perspectives. Memory Studies 1:3 (in press)

Fall, 2007

I214, Needs and Usability Assessment, with Liz Goodman.

Spring, 2007

I290-3, The Social Life of Visual Media

This interdisciplinary course brings together several approaches to visual media, with two goals: first, to use the resources of a variety of fields to understand (and perhaps anticipate) changes in the production and uses of personal photographic images (loosely defined); second, to examine the possibilities of multi-disciplinary approaches to new media and new technology. Our organizing topic will be personal photography, but that will be the springboard for discussions about new media and developing information technologies and ways of understanding them.

The disciplines that we will be exploring include: new media studies, visual studies, visual sociology, human-computer interaction, and science and technology studies. We’ll look to the first three of these to help us understand the uses of images, the role of images in society and in human activity. We’ll use the last two (along with the field of new media, again) to see how our understanding of images and visual media can help us understand innovations in the creation and use of images, design innovative technologies, and perhaps anticipate future directions.

This course should be appeal to students in any of the areas described above. The goal is to attract a multidisciplinary group of participants so that the interplay within the group reflects the interplay among the readings.

I212: Information and Society: Science and Technology Studies Seminar (with an emphasis on connections to Information Studies)

A special topics seminar that changes from year to year. The overall theme is methods and approaches to understanding the interaction of technology and the social, with an emphasis on approaches and topics that are relevant to design of information systems and technologies. A major (but not the only) foundation for this course is the interdisciplinary field known as Science and Technology Studies (STS). Topics include Social Construction of Technology (SCOT), Actor-Network Theory (ANT), Activity Theory, configuring users, epistemic cultures, situated action, and distributed cognition.


This page last updated 9 July 2011