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Mastery courses

Mastery courses are special types of courses that require students to demonstrate synthesis of the major theories, methods and approaches to inquiry and/or schools of practice necessary for entry into a particular career in the information professions. Mastery is defined as a student’s ability to do a task, solve a problem, produce an outcome, design a product, deliver a service, etc. at the level comparable to or exceeding a well-launched beginner in a field, profession or discipline.

Mastery courses require a high level of independence from students. Instructors assume the role of mentor, facilitator or advisor, and the courses are driven by problem analysis, information gathering and sharing, creative solutions for a project, or a combination of these elements.

MSI students are required to complete one mastery course or the Master’s Thesis Option Program (MTOP). Each mastery course has five to eight prerequisite courses that must be taken in advance of the mastery course.

Winter 2021 mastery courses

UX Research and Design (699-001)

This is a special time to be in the practice of creating digital experiences. New challenges that are stretching the needs, expectations, and capabilities of design teams and the people that they are creating experiences for are arising and evolving quickly. This class is an opportunity for you to dream big; to create a thought experiment that addresses a need for an audience that you are passionate about or a foundation for a product that you might decide to build upon after you graduate. 

This course will require you to ​demonstrate mastery​ in the application of UX design and research theories, concepts, and principles. You will:

  • Define a problem that you would like to solve using human-centered practices. You will conduct research to uncover user needs, articulate service requirements, and document your results.
  • Propose a design approach that addresses your findings. You will develop concepts, prototype, and refine them.
  • Communicate design solutions to stakeholders. You will get several opportunities to hone your message and create deliverables that are resonant.

UX Research and Design (699-002)

Experience design is both fascinating and challenging because of its elusive character and its politics of inclusion. What is experience?  Who gets to say so? What makes an experience fun, challenging, novel, or different? Are experiences shared, individual, or collective? How is it that some people are excluded from certain experience spaces? Who is the user in user experience design? This course will be focused both on the concrete implementation and critical interrogation of user experience design, including reflection on the cultural, social, gender, and racial aspects of design. This is a mastery course, i.e. an advanced one-semester course that will allow you to demonstrate command of the key methods, theories, approaches, and capabilities of UX design through a compelling portfolio piece. This course provides the opportunity to explore various strands of UX research and design from artistic exploration and speculative design to physical computing and Internet of Things.

User-Centered Agile Development (699-003)

This is a mastery course for students interested in pursuing a career in software product development with a UX focus. Students will work in groups of 4-6 on a semester-long project with an external client, integrating UX research and design methods with agile software development, with the goal of producing and alpha testing a Minimally Viable Prototype by the end of the course.

Big Data Analytics (699-004)

The big data analytics mastery course will require students to demonstrate mastery of data collection, processing, analysis, visualization, and interpretation. To develop these skills students will work on semester-long projects that deal with large or industry-scale data sets, and address real-world problems. Most of the projects will use data provided by industry partners. Aligned with best industry practices, students will be expected to work in a fast-paced, collaborative environment, while demonstrating independence and leadership. Work on projects will be interspersed with tutorials on technical issues in big data analysis. By the end of the course students will have prepared research reports for the class and memos for the industry partners. 

Digital Curation (699-005) 

This mastery course is designed for students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills in digital curation through the completion of a client-based project with a specific outcome. Working in independently or in small teams, students will work with a client on a digital curation problem, such as:

  • Data rescue & digital forensics
  • Assessing and improving metadata capture for a web archive
  • Modeling information packages for a new collection of digital content
  • Analyzing and improving an existing collection
  • Designing and implementing new systems/tools/policies for access to a digital collection

Big Data Analytics (699-007)

The big data analytics mastery course will require students to demonstrate mastery of data collection, processing, analysis, visualization, and prediction. To develop these skills students will work on semester-long projects that deal with large or industry-scale data sets, and solve real-world problems. Aligned with best industry practices, students will be expected to work in a fast-paced, collaborative environment, while demonstrating independence and leadership. Students must be able to create and use tools to handle very large transactional, text, network, behavioral, and/or multimedia data sets.

Librarianship & Archival Practice (699-008)

This mastery course prepares students for careers in librarianship, archives, and cultural heritage collections management, representation, access, and/or preservation. It is designed for students to demonstrate their knowledge and skills through completion of a client-based project with a specific outcome. Students will work with one client on a specific problem in archival or library setting, such as:

  • Creating and implementing a preservation policy
  • Designing methods and tools for collections development, management, or processing
  • Analyzing and improving an existing collection
  • Developing a reference resource or tool
  • Implementing a digitization plan
  • Developing tools that help users to discover and use collections
  • Evaluating and assessing user access and experience, etc.

UX Research and Design (699-013)

This mastery course provides students the opportunity to develop and demonstrate mastery in User Experience (UX) research and design. This includes the application of cross-disciplinary design theories, concepts, and principles in semester-long group projects (client or student-created) to:

  • Identify and articulate a meaningful user experience challenge
  • Conduct UX research with appropriate methods to uncover user needs, document UX research results, and articulate design requirements
  • Develop, refine, prototype, and validate user experience design solutions, and
  • Effectively communicate project motivation, progress, outcomes, and limitations