A Closer Look at MLIS Program Core Courses: INFO 200—Information Communities

Published: Tuesday, July 01, 2014 by Allison Randall Gatt

INFO 200, Information Communities, is a great class to build your foundation for employment as an information professional. In this class, you will learn about all the ways information access and use influences society, culture, the economy, politics, and— just about everything.

New and ground-breaking changes have taken place since I took INFO 200 (known then as LIBR 200). Every few years, faculty review core courses, career pathways, core competencies and electives to make sure the curriculum continues to be relevant and provides students with the knowledge they need to be successful in other classes. This year’s re-vamp of the core courses broadens the scope and perspective, but keeps the essential content.

Dr. Michael Stephens, information school professor and the coordinator for INFO 200, is excited about recent course updates, including now offering a “flipped classroom” course approach with an outward focus. “It’s all about user communities and how information professionals can serve them,” says Stephens, “and we’ve gathered experts in the field to record lectures just for the class.” For example, Aaron Schmidt, a Library Journal columnist and information design guru at Influx, has provided a lecture about User Experience. Our own information school’s Dr. Debra Hansen recorded a lecture about ethics and legal issues involved in serving information communities.

Wondering what you’ll explore in the class? INFO 200 topics include:

  • Information Communities and the Social Construction of Knowledge
  • Information Seeking Behavior
  • Researching Information Communities
  • Connecting Information Users with Information: Research-Based Information Resources and Services
  • Community-Generated Information Sources and Services
  • User Experience
  • Ethics and Intellectual Freedom
  • Teaching & Learning
  • Emerging Technologies
  • Creation Culture

Blogging will also play a central role in INFO 200. The blog you create in INFO 203 will be utilized in the Information Communities class, and throughout your coursework at the information school. “Blogging allows students to share their work way beyond closed forums and gets them writing to an authentic audience in ways that they will most likely use in their jobs,” says Stephens. “Students also get practice developing their professional persona in writing a blog and developing their online identity. This is a rather unique approach to building an open community of learners that LIS schools have rarely tried.”

When current student, Stacy Joy, took INFO 200 with Dr. Susan Maret, she enjoyed an assignment about privacy assessment. “Dr. Maret also has an ongoing LIBR 200 Wiki that students can contribute to, if they want,” says Joy. This is another way the class continues to build skills and encourage involvement in the information profession.

INFO 200 was the first class I took at San Jose State University, and it set a great tone for how much reading, writing and exploring I would do in my coursework at the information school. I participated in discussions that allowed myself and other students to share their varying views about censorship, freedom of information and library communities.

These discussions, as well as the study of a broad range of issues enabled me to be well-informed when choosing a term paper topic. A word to the wise: Start researching this paper early. Sometimes collecting the materials can take a while. Then you have to read the material and take notes. Then, you can write the paper. It’s a bit of a process, but a great one to help you learn to navigate the King Library as well as the resources of your local public library system. Information Communities fulfills the school’s graduate writing assessment requirement, and quite a few core competencies required for the awarding of your master’s degree. Your term paper will be one to hold onto for your eportfolio, if you choose to complete an eportfolio as your culminating experience when it comes time to prepare for graduation.

This ‘flipped classroom’ is a new and exciting development for INFO 200, and the information school looks forward to all the ways it will help students actively engage in the class, the way they would in a job environment. The goal of the flipped classroom, according to the 2014 Horizon Report, ‘is for students to learn more authentically by doing, with the teacher guiding the way.’ Stephens concurs with this philosophy. “Students who experience classes that are taught in a more participatory manner will be better equipped to interact, collaborate and teach others in their communities. And that,” he says, “Is what the future of the information professions is all about.”

The MLIS program’s core classes—INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204—are all part of building a solid foundation in learning about information professions, information systems and information-seeking behaviors, and information system structure and management. You’ve got to take these classes in order to take other elective classes, so let’s see what they’re all about.

Over the next several weeks, the blog will take a closer look at all three of the core classes and what makes them so exciting.

What INFO 200 topics look most interesting to you and why? Tell me all about it.

For further exploration on similar topics, check out:

School Updates Shared During Spring 2014 Director’s Forum

Online Learning—How Do I Talk to People?

What is INFO 203?

INFO 202 Information Retrieval System Design

INFO 204 Information Professions

You can also read Dr. Stephens take on the ‘flipped classroom’ in Library Journal

image courtesy of: Renjith Krishnan

Comments

I am currently enrolled in Info 200, and I'm finding the blogging experience to be interactive, challenging, and a great way to build technology skills for the workplace.

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