Added by Jill Gengler, last edited by Bertram Bruce on Jul 23, 2009  (view change)


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What is the course about?

Survey of an emerging field that studies how local, historical communities use information and communications technologies or otherwise access, create, organize, and share information. Covers key principles for working in libraries or the wider non-profit/public sectors as individuals, organizations, and communities harness new technologies and media. Prepares both professionals and researchers, whatever their technology background. Especially useful for those interested in public or community libraries, youth services, university public engagement, social work, education, and anyone interested in working with or studying underserved communities. Required for the Community Informatics specialization.

Both the course as a whole and specific activities are framed in terms of inquiry-based learning. See Overview.

Some starting questions are these:

  • How do actual communities work to address their problems?
  • What theory adequately accounts for the complexity and diversity of distributed, collective practice?
  • What tools are needed to mediate work on concrete tasks within communities?
  • What is the most effective process for developing shared capacity in the form of knowledge, skills, & tools?
What are the expectations for students?

The course diverges from the familiar pattern of lectures, readings, and term project or exams. Instead, students are expected to be actively engaged in asking questions, investigating through multiple media and hands-on experiences, creating, discussing, and reflecting. Each will carry out three Case Studies. There are three modules, lasting four weeks each, with the fourth week including presentations of student projects. Students will also plan and participate in a on-campus activity around community information spaces with Mortenson Center Associates from around the world. These direct experiences should guide reading and discussing articles drawn from the field of Community Informatics.

The outline and overall load is similar to that for the on-campus section of Community Informatics, but there will be differences in the specific assignments and the class organization. See weekly schedule.

  • Reflect: Carry out three Case Studies based on the case study questions, each including a field visit and leading to a report plus oral presentation. (20% for each)
  • Create: Help organize and lead a community informatics activity for visiting Mortenson Center Associates for the on-campus activity. (10%)
  • Investigate: Participate in live online sessions with questions, answers, & comments related to the Readings. (10%)
  • Discuss: Lead the class discussion twice: signup on the weekly schedule, post discussion notes, and open the discussion with about five minutes of comments. You'll be patched in so that other students can hear you speak while you can see their responses. (10%)
  • Extra credit: Review of a book (must be approved first) submitted to Journal of Community Informatics, according to guidelines. (10%)
  • Ask: Participate in the moodle forum raising new questions. (10%)