School of Information Science and Learning Technologies
University of Missouri


ISLT 9411: Design/Analysis of Research in ISLT

This course walked us through the process of creating a research paper or proposal. I chose to write a proposal to study how refugees could facilitate the exchange of technological information among themselves using sociocultural theory postulated by Lev Vygotsky including cultural mediation and the zone of proximity. The aim was to study how the interpersonal interactions of refugess could ameliorate their situation.

Two things really surprised me while researching this paper. The first being the scope of the refugee problem in the world (over 60 million refugees!), and the second being how much information technology is valued. It was presented as a necessary commodity on par with food and shelter.

ISLT 9411: Human Information Behavior

In this class we worked as a group to flesh out the practices and theories of information seeking behavior. We each had to present on a topic and guide a class discusson on relevant papers. My topic was on information needs, motivations, and use. The authors of one of the articles we discussed (Spink and Cole, 2006) conceptualized how humans have sought information, including (a) the everyday life information seeking–sense-making approach, (b) the information foraging approach, and (c) the problem–solution perspective on information seeking approach.

These ideas provided background for later in the class when we tried to map out the theories of information behavior and apply them to our own research. This is where I began to tackle the problem of how people search for datasets through data discovery. I started out with a foraging theory but eventually switched to an examination of archival intelligence.

Spink, A., & Cole, C. (2006). Human information behavior: Integrating diverse approaches and information use. Journal of the American Society for information Science and Technology, 57(1), 25-35.

ISLT 9411: Human Computer Interaction

This course covered the multidisciplined topic of human computer interaction. We evaluated systems design from a theoretical and usability perspective, studying concepts such as cognitive load, working memory, and short/long term memory. An example that we examined in depth was the ticketing machine to use the subway in Washington, D.C. It was interesting to see how that system was helpful and hindering to visiting and long term patrons.

This lead me to collaborate with a fellow student on a paper that considered why people choose one social media platform over another. We conducted open ended interviews with twelve people and analyzed the results. It was my first experience with qualitative research and what impressed me the most was the amount of work that is required to process in-person data.

Images from Pixabay

AG_ED_LD 8540: Qualitative Research

I took this course through the Agricultural Education department because I wanted a class that was online. It was interesting to see qualitative research from this perspective. During the course, I revisited the previous paper I had done on social media, presenting it as a case study rather than through a phenomenological lens. For a theory, I used 'uses and gratification' instead of situated action and activity theories. Two additional interviews were conducted for this project.

ESC_PC 8850: Quantitative Foundations

This course was a follow up to the basic statistics class covering methods such as linear regression and ANOVA The theories were addresssed then we implemented them using the "R" programming language.

ESC_PC 8860: Statistical Data Management and Analysis

The focus for this course was data analysis using the "R" programming language. We concentrated on data manipulation and the capabilities of the language and its packages.

These are courses in data science taken from the MSCS program at the University of Illinois.

CS 410: Text Information Systems

I was particularly interested in this course and found it to helpful in my understanding of programmatic text analysis. We discussed many topics including parts of speech tagging, PageRank algorithm (used by Google search), and entropy. It also aided my understanding of the factors that influence text analysis like the term frequency - inverse document frequency (TF-IDF).

CS 412: Introduction to Data Mining

This was a challenging course that covered data mining topics incuding pattern discovery, categorization and cluster analysis. There are numerous methods for doing this for text and graph based data. It helped me become aware of techniques used and gave me experience in implementing some of these methods in Python.

CS 498: Data Visualization

This was a really fun course that covered the inner workings of Tableau and then introduced the JavaScript D3 library. I was excited to strengthen my JavaScript skills. The principles of the course overlapped with my 9411 doctoral seminar in HCI and stressed the importance of the user interface.

ISLT 9409: Seminar in Digital Libraries

This course was all about digital capabilities in libraries, covering digitization and file formats. We gained some experience harvesting metadata through Washington University and made recommendations for the Cambio Center web site at the University of Missouri.

ISLT 9410: Seminar in Emerging Technologies

This course stands out for me because it's where I first started using Twitter extensively. It also encouraged me to try new things.

ISLT 9410: Seminar in Digital Humanities

Exploring the possibilities of the digital humanities was interesting and opened new doors for me. This course was mostly reading but I later did an intership at the Center for Research in the Digital Humanties (CRDH) at the University of Nebraska working on the Lewis and Clark data.

ISLT 9410: Seminar in Geographic Information Systems

This course gave me practice displaying data through maps. The theme for the class was "book deserts" and gave me an understanding of how location can affect the access and choices we have for information.

ISLT 9443: The Academic Library

Since I'm interested in working in academia, I was glad to learn about the academic library. This course gave me insight into no only how the college library works, but also how it fits into the whole university system.

ISLT 9446: International & Comparative Librarianship

I have always been interested in other countries and languages. This course gave me the opportunity to research other countries that I was interested in, two of which were Slovenia (my ancestry) and Mongolia. I had a friend living in Mogolia at the time and was able to ask her about the libraries there. The interesting thing about Mongolia is that many areas are remote and yet the people have found ways to get remote access through books and technology.

ISLT 9432: Online Searching

This course was so much fun because we got search for topics in different databases. It introduced me to the concepts of precision and recall which were re-addressed in my text analysis class.

ISLT 9440: Learning with the Internet

This was one of the few courses I have taken that covered learning design. We learned the fundamentals of meaningful learning and how to incorporate technology into our class lessons. Coming from the library and information science background, this was new territory for me. The basics of this course really helped me a year later when I was teaching "Technology to Enhance Learning" (ISLT 4467).

ISLT 9454: Copyright

Even though this course was totally outside of what I was accustomed to, I knew this was an important class to take in the library and educational world. It's a complicated subject and I can't say that I remember all the rules but it made me aware of copyright and what needs to be considered.

ISLT 9466: Learning Analytics

In this course, we delved into educational data and visualization from a teacher's point of view. We examined what data shows evidence of learning and improvement.

ISLT 7356: Interactive Web Design with JavaScript

I was already familiar with JavaScript but I took this course because it focused on jQuery, a JavaScript library that I was unfamiliar with. It allowed me to use more features and become more comfortable with this langugage.

ISLT 7375: Mobile Web App Development

Again, more JavaScript libraries to expand my knowledge. Developing mobile applications was just something I wanted to learn but had never taken the time.

ISLT 7410: Seminar in Gaming

I'm not really a "gaming" person, but this course opened my eyes to the many learning possibilities that gaming provides. We played games, developed a "game" plan for learning, and finally created our own game using a tool called Stencyl. There is so much more that can be done with this, so it gave me good start.