This catalog view provides a representative selection of courses regularly taught at UMSI. Current course information is available from Wolverine Access.
Programs, Information and People --- Introduction to programming with a focus on applications in informatics. Covers the fundamental elements of a modern programming language and how to access data on the internet. Explores how humans and technology complement one another, including techniques used to coordinate groups of people working together on software development.
Introduction to Information Studies --- This course will provide the foundational knowledge necessary to begin to address the key issues associated with the Information Revolution. Issues will range from the theoretical (what is information and how do humans construct it?), to the cultural (is life on the screen a qualitatively different phenomenon from experiences with earlier distance-shrinking and knowledge-building technologies such as telephones?), to the practical (what are the basic architecture of computing networks?). Successful completion of this "gateway" course.
Network Thinking --- We live in a world of networks. We increasingly depend on each others knowledge when we play together, work together, and learn together. We think of Google, Facebook, EBay, and the Internet as our own personal assistants that help us answer questions, make decisions, or buy goods and services. We happily use all these tools and interact with people near and far and never really think much about how or why things work the way they work. Is there a reason, logic or science behind EBays bidding scheme or Facebook's privacy policies? How and when does a VouTube video go viral? How can we understand and take advantage of connected thinking, where the group has more intelligence than any one of us alone? How do Netflix and Amazon predict what you might be interested in seeing or reading or buying? How does Internet search and advertising work and who is making money advertising on the Internet? How might you maximize your blog post's position in Google's search results? Why do people volunteer to work on Wikipedia without being paid? This course examines human nature, information structures, and enabling technologies that contribute to networked `intelligence'. You'll learn how groups behave and function from technical and non-technical perspectives. You'll finish the class fascinated by network thinking and ready to dig deeper into the social and technical underpinnings of today's technological landscape.
Building Applications for Information Environments --- Fundamental programming skills in the context of end-user software applications using a high-level language, such as Ruby or Python. Rapid design of a variety of information-oriented applications to gather, analyze, transform, manipulate, and publish data. Applications drawn from statistics, pattern matching, social computing and computer games.
Models of Social Information Processing --- This course focuses on how social groups form, interact, and change. We look at the technical structures of social networks and explore how individual actions are combined to produce collective effects. The techniques learned in this course can be applied to understanding friend systems like Facebook, recommender systems such as Digg, auction systems such as Ebay, and information webs used by search engines such as Google. This course introduces two conceptual models, networks and games, for how information flows and is used in multi-person settings. Networks or graph representations describe the structure of connections among people and documents. They permit mathematical analysis and meaningful visualizations that highlight different roles played by different people or documents, as well as features of the collection as a whole. Game representations describe, in situations of interdependence, the actions available to different people and how each person's outcomes are contingent on the choices of other people. It permits analysis of stable sets of choices by all the people (equilibrium's). It also provides a framework for analysis of the likely effects of alternative designs for markets and information elicitation mechanisms, based on their abstract game representations. Assignments in the course include problem sets exploring the mechanics of the models and essays applying them to current applications in social computing.
Information Environments and Work --- This course looks at information's role in organizations, including psychological, economic, management and sociocultural perspectives. Explores sense-making and effective communication, including the importance of "story-telling." Covers key humanistic perspectives and ethical issues related to information. Goes into the nature of requirements and helps students learn to "swim in a sea of data" in organizations. The course focuses on the importance of working at the frontier.
Special Topics in Information
Persuasion and Social Influence --- Social Influence is one of the most pervasive and powerful mechanisms for behavior change whether you are an informatics professional who is building up your design tool-box, designing a new information system or managing a team. In this course we will learn why and under what conditions an individual's thoughts and actions can be influenced by those around them. The primary goal of this course is to introduce you to some of the theories and key research findings in the field of persuasion and social influence through the lens of economics and social psychology. The second goal is to have you applying the tools of influence from day one of the course: you will learn techniques for persuasive speaking, writing and designing. All written and oral assignments will use short and targeted exercises to gain fluency in applying the techniques and ideas of persuasion. Finally, the course will culminate in an application of these techniques in two case studies (one covering a management problem and one a design challenge). Though we will rely on theories, and learn about the key research findings, this course is suitable for anyone with any background but tailored directly to the needs of informatics students. The class will be heavily directed toward applying what we learn to practice and real world situations. Class meetings include a mixture of lecture and exposition through the use of experiments, an assortment of group activities and class discussion so that you can see and test some of the theories and techniques of social influence first hand.
Design of Complex Websites --- This course provides a hands-on approach to building interactive, database-backed websites. Topics covered include HTML, CSS, and Ajax; the Python programming language; the Google Application Engine web development framework; data modeling and database design.
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