INLS 490-121: Assignments

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Asking the Opening Question

Every class session, someone will ask the opening question. This question should kick off a class discussion, and be based on the readings for that class session. This question must be open-ended and sufficiently interesting to prompt significant discussion. For the first n class sessions (the value of n to be determined), one or the other of the instructors will ask the opening question. At class session n+1, students will take on the task of asking the opening question. Every student will ask the opening question once, and maybe twice, throughout the semester, depending on the course enrollment. During class sessions where teams are teaching (see below), the team will ask the opening question.

Team Teaching

Small groups (3 ± 1) of students will choose a topic relevant to the themes of this course, and will prepare and teach a class session (approximately 1 hour) on that topic.

We will discuss, in class and online, topics that we want to address over the course of the semester. Students will sign up for the topic that they want to teach.

Teaching teams will be formed several weeks in advance of these class sessions. Groups will meet with one or preferably both instructors 1-2 weeks in advance of their class sessions to discuss and plan.

Groups will select some readings to assign to the class. Groups will write a few sentences explaining why each reading was selected. This explanation writeup will be disseminated to the class at least a week prior to the class meeting.

Each teaching team will lead the entire class in exploring their topic. This may involve a traditional presentation, discussion of the readings, activities, lab exercises, and/or any other pedagogical technique the group deems appropriate for the topic.

Collaborative Note-taking

We will select, and students will be encouraged to use, an application for collaborative note-taking / annotation in class. Students will search for and review appropriate applications. Some obvious candidates are a wiki and Google Docs, but other possibilities may exist. The class as a whole will evaluate which one will be used.

Evaluation of Web 2.0-ish Implementation

We will conduct an evaluation of libraries' implementations of Web 2.0-ish tools and ideas. There are two options for this assignment:

  1. Find a library or other information organization that has implemented some Web 2.0-ish tool, process, etc. Develop an evaluation plan for this implementation. Approach this evaluation from as many angles as you can: from the perspective of the users, the librarians / information professionals, IT needs, cost, etc. Some appropriate evaluation criteria might be:
    • alignment with the organization's mission
    • alignment with different users groups' uses of the information products provided by the organization
    • the organization's budget of money, personnel, and/or other resources
  2. If you cannot find a library or other information organization in which to conduct this evaluation: Find one or more articles on a single library that has implemented some Web 2.0-ish tool, process, etc. Evaluate the library's use.

2.0-ish Tool Demos and Adoption

Near the start and the end of the semester, students will present brief demos of some Web 2.0-ish tool. These can be comparatively prosaic (e.g., Flickr) or still-in-alpha brand-new.

The demo at the start of the semester can be of any 2.0-ish tool. This demo should include a basic overview of the tool, but should concentrate on a set of features that you consider to be noteworthy for whatever reason. Let me suggest that tools for academic productivity or personal information management would be good choices for this demo.

During the course of the semester, students should adopt at least one new 2.0-ish tool into their personal information environment. The demo at the end of the semester should be of this tool. This can be a tool that another student, or even yourself, demoed at the start of the semester. This demo should detail how you personally used this tool, what for, and how it affected your workflow / personal information management / life.

Space Use Study

What are people actually using the library for? We will use floorplans for the Undergraduate library or other libraries or other spaces on campus where people do information-related work, as data collection instruments to identify what information-related work people are doing in these spaces. We will use this data to think about implications for designing library services, tools, and spaces.

Design a Service

Write up specifications for a new service (new in the sense of being an entirely new offering, or in the sense of providing an old service in a new way) that can be provided in libraries and/or other information environments, that makes use of some principle(s) of Web 2.0. This service can be human-mediated or tool-based, or some combination of both.

It is not a requirement of this assignment that you should actually implement this service, though if you want to do that, do. It is also not a requirement of this assignment that the tool that you will build for the Tool Building assignment be designed for this service, though it would of course make a certain amount of sense to plan them that way.

Tool Building

Build a simple tool to harness Web 2.0 technologies for a library or other information organization.

Some possible tools to use:

Course Postmortem

Special topics courses in SILS are developed to cover emerging issues or specialized content not represented in the main curriculum. One of our intentions for this course is, after the semester is over, that we will be able to make suggestions for material covered in this course that needs to be integrated into the rest of the SILS curriculum. Students will assist the instructors in that identification.

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