INFO 282 Imaginarium Highlights Virtual Reality, Digital Inequality and More


Using strategic planning tools they learned in INFO 282 The Emerging Future: Technology Issues and Trends, MLIS students have crafted projects highlighting new technological areas that may affect the future.

Using strategic planning tools they learned in INFO 282 The Emerging Future: Technology Issues and Trends, San José State University School of Information graduate students have crafted projects highlighting new technological areas that may affect the future.

The course, developed by iSchool instructor Dr. Sue Alman, provides opportunities to explore the planning skills and technology trends needed to create personal and organizational futures. Students learn to recognize the latest technology issues and trends, and throughout the course, they gain insights into foresight studies and the methods used by strategists. Also examined are impact factors of areas such as big data, privacy, cybersecurity, and net neutrality, as well as their societal implications.

“The technology landscape changes rapidly, and these changes have economic, social, and ethical significance for individuals, organizations, and the entire world. The [Emerging Future: Technology Issues and Trends] course brings focus to the planning skills that are needed, the issues that are involved, and the current trends as we explore the potential impact of technological innovations,” Alman said.

Students were assigned several projects to explore varied presentation platforms and delve into the issues that surround the new technologies discussed during the semester. Critical thinking and planning skills were honed throughout the term with activities that included contributions to a weekly Flipboard magazine, a comparative book review, a grant proposal, investigation of foresight strategies, and the concluding digital imaginarium providing a possible future scenario. The final projects were presented in a student showcase and provide a glimpse into some of the technologies that will impact the emerging future.

Catherine Lockmiller is interested in library technologies that promote user engagement and interconnectivity, especially when it comes to encouraging empathy, storytelling and meaning making. Her infographic, Rethinking Real Libraries and Virtual Reality, suggests the likelihood that virtual reality will become an effective tool to level differences between representations of the self and perceptions of the other.

“Researchers are already studying how virtual reality and augmented reality can expose prejudice and implicit bias. Since many libraries are positioned to dismantle social conflicts, we can play a key role in putting their research into action,” the Master of Library and Information Science student said.

Speaking later this month at the National Diversity in Libraries Conference, Lockmiller will discuss how libraries can use interactive technologies to empower transgender people by promoting visibility and networking.

With digital inequality in mind, MLIS student Amy Little’s project explores how technological trends are helping libraries close the access gap.

“Public libraries fill many purposes in their communities, chief among them is providing access to computers and technology. In order to continue to provide services, which facilitate access, libraries often have to think creatively about how to apply funds and labor. Current studies in digital inequality are often geared toward finding the cheapest, easiest way to provide the greatest amount of access to the most people,” she said.

Little, who believes she is better equipped to follow technological trends having taken the course, described it as an introduction to a number of outlets for discovering emerging tech information she was not familiar with before.

“I would definitely recommend [INFO 282] to other iSchool students who are interested in discovering ways to follow emerging technology on a global scale. Being aware of these innovations can be very beneficial to librarians who are always seeking the most effective way to provide services to their patrons,” she said.

The course work is also relevant to “any line of work,” Little added. “Those enrolled in the iSchool program that are interested in working in an information field outside of libraries would certainly find this class interesting and useful. Its scope is broad enough that students can use projects and assignments to explore any facet they were interested in.”

The projects of Lockmiller, Little and their classmates can be viewed on iSchool website. For more information on INFO 282, read the course syllabus.