Students Broaden Skills and Explore New Topics
New Courses Offered in MLIS and MARA Programs for Fall 2020


The curriculum at the San José State University School of Information continues to be a top strength of both its Master of Library and Information Science and Master of Archives and Records Administration online master’s degree programs, according to surveys of recent graduates.

Contributing to this success are the iSchool’s program advisory committees, comprised of influential practitioners in the 14 career pathways, who ensure the curriculum stays current, especially crucial in the rapidly evolving information professions.

The iSchool administration, in collaboration with the PAC members, review the curricula regularly and recently added several new courses that are being offered for the first time during the fall 2020 semester: INFO 287-15 Serials Cataloging, INFO 287-16 Problem Solving with Data, INFO 281-17 Cultural Competence for Information Professionals, INFO 287-14 Classification Schemes, and MARA 284-12 Design for Teaching and Learning in a Social Virtual Reality. 

INFO 287-15 Serials Cataloging provides an overview of the bibliographic standards and cataloging guidelines for print and digital serials through a case method and problem-centered approach. Taught for the first time this fall by Dr. Sylvia D. Hall-Ellis, the course will explore the challenges of tools and national and international data exchange standard.

Hall-Ellis, whose research focuses on competencies for cataloging and metadata professionals, has more than 45 years of experience working in libraries as an administrator, development officer, and project manager, and will draw upon her unique expertise in the areas of database building and maintenance, bibliographic cataloging, information systems, and copyright. This one-unit course runs from September 23 through October 21.

INFO 287-16 Problem Solving with Data is a new two-unit course that will focus on solving real-life data problems through data-driven visualization and statistics. Taught by Assistant Professor Souvick Ghosh, the course offers a practical introduction to the field of statistical data science and provides fundamental knowledge in several programming languages and tools, and basic methods for quantitative analytics. This course runs from September 9 through November 3.

Ghosh’s research involves extensive use of techniques and approaches in machine learning, natural language processing, deep neural networks, and human-computer interaction—he prefers a hands-on style of teaching in which the focus is on the application of knowledge over rote learning. Ghosh is one of the iSchool’s newest faculty members, previously teaching multiple graduate-level and undergraduate-level courses on data science, programming, and computer science concepts at Rutgers University.

INFO 281-17 Cultural Competence for Information Professionals is a new three-unit course that has been designed to prepare future information professionals of all pathways to develop the cultural competencies required to work in diverse communities, and with diverse populations.

Taught by Dr. Michele A.L. Villagran, who earned her Ph.D. in Education in Organizational Leadership from Pepperdine University in 2015, and focused her dissertation focused on cultural intelligence—the course will introduce students to the theoretical and practical application of cultural competence, and allow students to develop their own cultural competence.

Villagran’s research focuses on diversity and social justice in library and information science, and she has more than two decades of experience in the public and private sectors as a consultant on cultural intelligence, diversity and inclusion. 

INFO 287-14 Classification Schemes provides an overview of principles and skills for enumerative, faceted, analytic-synthetic classification schemes for library and information center resources. This new one-unit course, also taught by Hall-Ellis, presents principles, structure, and format of the Library of Congress, Dewey Decimal, and National Library of Medicine classification schemes. The course runs from August 19 through September 16.

The newly added MARA 284-12 Design for Teaching and Learning in a Social Virtual Reality introduces social virtual reality as a platform for professional development, with an emphasis on designing training experiences using archival materials. The one-unit course runs from September 23 through October 21.

Dr. Marie Vans, a research scientist at HP, Inc., who graduated from the iSchool’s MLIS program in 2016, will teach the course using Canvas and various social virtual world environments for assignments and meetups. Vans envisions her students going on to design their own VR experiences and adding to the growing knowledge base around making learning and collaboration more engaging and productive in these environments.

Vans, who also holds a Ph.D. in Computer Science from Colorado State University, is involved with VCARA (Virtual Center for Archives and Records Administration), a MARA-created iSchool student group based in the virtual world Second Life (SL) that actively collaborates to bridge the gap between virtual 3D worlds and social VR platforms. To learn more about Vans’ expansive background in VR, read her interview on the MARA blog.

New course proposals go through a formalized review process and are approved by the faculty before being added to the curricula. Not all courses require three units and span the full semester. The variable unit courses explore topics in a shorter duration of time and allow students to broaden their skills while still focusing on their main area of interest.