Science and Technology Studies Seminar, Fall, 2017.

For PhD students; reading classic STS publications.

Multimedia Narratives Fall, 2013

This is an update of the previous year’s Multimedia Narrative For Professionals and Qualitative Researchers.

Multimedia Narrative For Professionals and Qualitative Researchers  Fall, 2o12

The Internet is largely visual.  In the digital world, skill in making visual media is increasingly important. Professionals and researchers increasingly need to be able to present their work visually.  Visual media are used for presentations, websites, and the like. In short, visual media are made for a purpose and an audience; combined with text or audio; sequenced and juxtaposed.  They are used to summarize and present to others one’s work or the needs of clients; to solicit support; to persuade; to tell stories.

Almost anyone can use a camcorder or point-and-shoot camera to make media. Not everyone knows how to make media of good technical quality: to skillfully manage things like lighting and exposure, and the technologies of making and editing media.

However, making images and video is not enough. Most people’s knowledge about how to effectively use these media trails far behind our ability to create hours and gigabytes of video, audio, and still images.

In this seminar, we will address both the technical and more theoretical aspects of making multimedia narratives.  We will address both the conceptual and the hands-on issues of making visual media and constructing multi-media narratives.

We will read from such fields as visual anthropology, visual studies, and narrative.  We will also work with media capture and editing technologies.  Each student will produce a multimedia narrative appropriate to his or her own work.

This is not a hard-core technical class.  We will use mostly simple technologies to enable quick capture and production, rather than spending extensive time and energy mastering complex technologies (though students are welcome to do so on their own).  We expect that students will range of those with minimal technical skills but a need to do this kind of work, to those with excellent technical skills who want to learn how to effectively use those skills.

I212: Information and Society: Science and Technology Studies (STS) and Information Technologies.

I teach this course roughly every two years. Science and Technology Studies (STS) is an interdisciplinary field concerned with two areas of interest to us: the interaction between technology and the social; and knowledge communities. Recent years have seen increased interaction between STS and human-computer interaction (HCI), information and communication technologies for development (ICTD), and new media.

This class will be a seminar emphasizing close reading and discussion of some classic STS works, along with more current research, emphasizing that which is relevant to information and computing technologies, and knowledge communities. Our concern will be with how these can help us understand the relationships among information technology and new media, especially design; knowledge communities; and the social.

The course changes with each offering, depending on what’s current in the field and the interests of the students enrolled, which tend to be an eclectic group. Topics include Social Construction of Technology (SCOT), Actor-Network Theory (ANT), Activity Theory, configuring users, epistemic cultures, situated action, reflective/critical HCI, and distributed cognition.

This class is open to any interested graduate student. It is particularly appropriate for I-School PhD students; I-School master’s students interested in conceptual issues some of their more applied coursework; and graduate students doing a new media emphasis, and from related departments. Past students have been from departments as varied as architecture, mechanical engineering, and education.

Fall 2011

Spring 2009

Spring 2007


I214 User Experience Research (Formerly Needs and Usability Assessment) 

I designed this course and teach it every year.

This course addresses concepts and methods ofuser experience research. This includes (1) the topic and concepts of user experience; (2) social science research methods applied to user experience; (3) common concepts, methods, and issues in professional practice. We will practice a number of major usability assessment methods, including heuristic evaluation, surveys and focus groups, and naturalistic/ethnographic methods. We will discuss methods of bringing user experience research and understanding into the design process. (This is not a design course.) We also question common assumptions about users, designers, technology, and the design process.

This course is appropriate for both 1st and 2nd-year iSchool students, and for students from other departments with a strong interest in user-based design and assessment, with the instructor’s permission. Students will complete at least one major group project related to user experience research.

Spring, 2012  This site is incomplete; early in the semester we moved to a course management system that is not publicly-accessible.

Fall 2010

Spring 2010

Fall 2008 with Liz Goodman

Fall 2007 with Liz Goodman

Special Topic Seminars

I290. Visual Research Methods: Creating Visual Narratives – Spring, 2012

Interviews and direct observation activity are heavily used in both the business world and academia, for applied and academic research. Video, audio, or photographic records of people performing everyday activities or interacting with existing or new technologies, are used increasingly in both applied and academic research.

However, our knowledge about how to effectively use these records as data for analysis and for summarizing and reporting findings trails far behind our ability to create hours and gigabytes of video, audio, and still images.

In this seminar, we will address theoretical and practical issues of creating narratives using video, audio, and still images. We will read from areas such as visual anthropology and visual studies that address the nature of visual evidence; and we will get hands-on experience creating our own narrative reports.

This is not a heavy-duty media production class. We will use relatively accessible tools to practice producing examples of a range of media.

This course is appropriate for master’s and Ph.D. students from the I School and other disciplines. People in a wide variety of disciplines and professions need to collect visual data about people’s activities; make sense of it; and report it to others.


I290-13 Digital Narratives: Do-It-Yourself Texts and Other Kinds of Digital Storytelling with Elizabeth Churchill

Current developments in multimedia technology are leading to increased use of a variety of media for representation for communication. These include still images, video, animation and audio as well as text. A number of existing applications make it increasingly easy for people to develop their own multimodal “texts” without special expertise. The question is: How are people using these resources? How can they be effectively used? And how can these resources be better designed to support these efforts?

We will look at two common applications areas to investigate these questions:
(1) Do It Yourself: construction and use of multimodal resources for showing, teaching, and learning in the field of do-it-yourself (crafts, building, repair, and related activities without professional help); and
(2) Digital story-telling, for personal/collective history but for other purposes as well.

Our reasons for choosing these two areas: there’s considerable interest, activity, and user-generated content in each. This interest is likely to continue and grow (they aren’t current fads).

These areas share some similarities: they can benefit from both pre-existing and specially-constructed visual, audio, and textual resources. Both are of considerable interest among non-professionals, as leisure activities. Both have a narrative element to them, whether it’s the story of an event, or how to do something from beginning to end. The audiences for both are more or less peers.

They differ in their goals, and the kinds of stories that they tell and information resources use and create. Interestingly, these areas often overlap, as apprentices learn techniques and stories from their predecessors and mentors. In this way, traditions and practices continue and evolve. Both can benefit from using technology to tell stories and track revisions. And both are likely to be intertextual, linking to and drawing on existing resources.

This is not a technology design course; we do not expect students to build new technologies, although we will explore the space of potential designs to address emerging creative needs and directions. We will, as far as possible, rely on existing technologies. However, these will be treated as prototypes; we will ask how these (or similar) technologies could be better designed to suit the understandings that emerge from this course.



I212, Information in Society: Digital Media and Personal Memory (with Elizabeth Churchill) Spring, 2008

Much of the design around digital media used for personal(and colelective) memory is based on unexamined assumptions about memory and remembering. The emerging field of Memory Studies is primarily rooted in cultural studies, with little connection to work developing technologies of memory. In this seminar, we drew on literature in a variety of domains, including models of memory from history and cognitive science; archives; narrative; and HCI.


I290-3, The Social Life of Visual Media   Spring, 2007

This interdisciplinary course brings together several approaches to visual media, with two goals: first, to use the resources of a variety of fields to understand (and perhaps anticipate) changes in the production and uses of personal photographic images (loosely defined); second, to examine the possibilities of multi-disciplinary approaches to new media and new technology. Our organizing topic will be personal photography, but that will be the springboard for discussions about new media and developing information technologies and ways of understanding them.

The disciplines that we will be exploring include: new media studies, visual studies, visual sociology, human-computer interaction, and science and technology studies. We’ll look to the first three of these to help us understand the uses of images, the role of images in society and in human activity. We’ll use the last two (along with the field of new media, again) to see how our understanding of images and visual media can help us understand innovations in the creation and use of images, design innovative technologies, and perhaps anticipate future directions.

This course should be appeal to students in any of the areas described above. The goal is to attract a multidisciplinary group of participants so that the interplay within the group reflects the interplay among the readings.

This page last updated  3 Mar 2018