Course Description

Theoretical and practical implications for a user-centered perspective on the development of computerized information systems. Topics include user participation, alternative development methodologies, end-user computing, prototyping techniques, computer-supported cooperative work. Emphasis on the development of systems at the workgroup level using common software packages.

Program Learning Outcomes

Program-level outcomes for the Master of Information (MI) program at the University of Toronto include the following:

  1. Students understand and are conversant with fundamental concepts, theories, practices, and the diverse horizons of information disciplines, and can respond to changing information practices and needs of society. (INFO)
  2. Students develop knowledge and values appropriate to their future exercise of economic, cultural, and/or social leadership, and thereby provide leadership in defining the social responsibility of information professionals to provide information services for all, regardless of age, educational level, or social, cultural, or ethnic background. (VALUES)
  3. Students develop the ability to contribute through research and publication, to the continuous expansion and critical assessment of the body of knowledge underlying the information and archives sciences. (CONTRIBUTE)
  4. Students develop an understanding of the development of theory concerning information, where it is found, and how it is used. (THEORY)
  5. Students develop an understanding of the application of new technological developments to the preservation and communication of information, and in the identification of the impact of such developments on society. (SOCIETY)
  6. Students continue in life-long intellectual growth beyond graduation. (LIFE)
Course Objectives

The purpose of this course is to familiarize students with an approach to professional practice, to develop the capacity to adopt this mindset in their own practice and the ability to communicate these ideas to others, and to train them in a set of concrete methods and tools to implement these ideas.

Course Learning Outcomes

This course introduces students to the discipline of human/user centred design. Our implicit focus is the design of "information systems," but explicitly we will consider all manner of design objects.

Upon successful completion of this course you will have enhanced professional reflexes of creative problem solving and will have acquired concrete skills needed to act on them. These include

  1. a deep appetite for finding out and seeking feedback and the improving your capacity to listen, see, and measure (EMPATHY)
  2. an enhanced capacity to approach problems from new directions, generate out of the box ideas, riff on (and inspire) the creativity of others (CREATIVECONFIDENCE)
  3. widened repertoire of skills and attitudes for successful collaboration and teamwork (TEAMS)
  4. get your ideas out of your head and in front of others (SKETCH)
  5. the impulse to prototype, mockup, visualize, and otherwise externalize ideas (PROTOTYPE)
  6. the urge to iterate (ITERATION)
  7. confidence and skill at presenting and pitching (PITCH)
  8. facility for project management and development methodologies (PROJMGT)
  9. appreciation of the organizational aspects of innovation (ORGINNOV)

The relationship of these course outcomes to the program outcomes is summarized in the table below.


Instructional Agenda

Each week, students will engage with text and other media introducing a topic PRIOR to each class session. Class session will be a mix of lecture, demonstration, discussion, and workshop. The underlying sensibility in all of this will be that of a "flipped classroom," that is, students are assumed to have already heard "lecture" and to arrive in class ready to clarify and practice the material. Most workshops will conclude with a fieldwork or group assignment to be completed before the next class that will constitute about one half of each week's 6-8 hours of "homework." Most of these assignments will be submitted for feedback and grades.

Assignments, Activities and Course Learning Outcomes

Each course assignment and activity will be an opportunity to practice or demonstrate mastery of one or more of the learning outcomes described above. The tables below summarize the relationship between assignments, activities, and learning outcomes.

Outcome 01 02 03 04 05 06 07 08 09 10
EMPATHY A01 A02 A03 A04 A05 A06 A07 A08 A09 A10
CREATIVECONF A01 A02 A03 A04 A05 A06 A07 A08 A09 A10
TEAMS A01 A02 A03 A04 A05 A06 A07 A08 A09 A10
SKETCH A01 A02 A03 A04 A05 A06 A07 A08 A09 A10
PROTOTYPE A01 A02 A03 A04 A05 A06 A07 A08 A09 A10
ITERATE A01 A02 A03 A04 A05 A06 A07 A08 A09 A10
PITCH A01 A02 A03 A04 A05 A06 A07 A08 A09 A10
PROJMGT A01 A02 A03 A04 A05 A06 A07 A08 A09 A10
ORGINNOV A01 A02 A03 A04 A05 A06 A07 A08 A09 A10

Outcome Where does it show up in assignments?


SLOW w.i.p.
TEAMS w.i.p.
SKETCH w.i.p.
PITCH w.i.p.
PROJMGT w.i.p.

Please consult the iSchool’s Grade Interpretation Guidelines, the University Assessment and Grading Practices Policy and Guidelines on the Use of INC, SDF, & WDR. . Note that several graded assignments will be handed back before the final date to drop without penalty.

These documents will form the basis for grading in the course.

The grading breakdown for assignments and exams for this course will be:


Writing Support

As stated in the iSchool’s Grade Interpretation Guidelines, “work that is not well written and grammatically correct will not generally be considered eligible for a grade in the A range, regardless of its quality in other respects.” With this in mind, please make use of the writing support provided to graduate students by the SGS Graduate Centre for Academic Communication. The services are designed to target the needs of both native and non-native speakers and all programs are free. Please consult for more information. the current workshop schedule.

Academic integrity

Please consult the University’s site on Academic Integrity. The iSchool has a zero-tolerance policy on plagiarism as defined in section B.I.1.(d) of the University’s Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters. You should acquaint yourself with the Code.

Also review the material in Cite it Right and if you require further clarification, consult the site How Not to Plagiarize.

Cite it Right covers relevant parts of the U of T Code of Behaviour on Academic Matters (1995). It is expected that all iSchool students take the Cite it Right workshop and the online quiz. Completion of the online Cite it Right quiz should be made prior to the second week of classes. To review and complete the workshop, visit the orientation portion of the iSkills site.


Students with diverse learning styles and needs are welcome in this course. If you have a disability or a health consideration that may require accommodations, please feel free to approach Student Services and/or the Accessibility Services Office as soon as possible. The Accessibility Services staff are available by appointment to assess needs, provide referrals and arrange appropriate accommodations. The sooner you let us know your needs, the quicker we can assist you in achieving your learning goals in this course.

Academic Dates

Consult the iSchool's online calendar for various course-relevant dates (e.g., October 29 Final date to drop fall session full-year (Y) or fall session (F) courses without academic penalty).

Statement of Acknowledgement of Traditional Land

I (we) would like to acknowledge this land on which the University of Toronto operates. For thousands of years it has been the traditional land of the Huron-Wendat, the Seneca, and most recently, the Mississaugas of the Credit River. Today this meeting place is still the home to many Indigenous people from across Turtle Island and we are grateful to have the opportunity to work on this land.1

iSchool Workshops:

The iSchool workshops are a series short skill sessions that are available exclusively to the iSchool community. iSchool professors, Inforum librarians, current students, alumni, and a collective of professionals and academics from each program and concentration, work together to create these unique rosters. Together with the MMSt and MI curricula, these academic, professional, and technical iSkills workshops provide a robust information and heritage graduate educational experience.

Workshop topics of particular relevance to this course will be noted by the instructor.

In an effort to ensure your success at the iSchool, key information and skills that all iSchool students must possess, regardless of program or concentration, are covered in these online orientation workshops. You should avail yourself of these sooner rather than later.