INLS 697



School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Spring Semester 2014


Instructor:  Mohammad H. Jarrahi, Ph.D.

Class Meeting Times:  Monday & Wednesday  11:00 am to 12:15 pm

Office:  200 Manning Hall

Class Meeting Place:   208 Manning Hall

Office Phone:   919-962-8364

Office Hours:   Tuesday 2:00 to 3:15 pm or      

By Appointment



Prerequisite:  Senior standing; IS majors or minors only.




Information Science is a rapidly changing field of study. New issues, topics, technologies, applications and terminologies are continually emerging. One of the key skills you must have as a BSIS major is the ability to analyze these emerging topics and assess new solutions within the context of the information age.

INLS 697 introduces you to several new topics and enables you to integrate and apply your academic background and experience. The primary objective of this course is to raise your awareness and curiosity about contemporary and emerging topics of information science, information systems, information technology, and information management. As a result, you will be enabled to assess the future impact of new developments, and to envision the future of our field.




The course structure does not involve traditional lecturing, but it largely builds from a lot of class discussions and personal reflections.  Most activities are done in groups.  Through this course you will team up with different classmates, and will contribute to the class discussions through personal reflections that are posted before each class. 


You should check the Sakai site regularly for the course schedule and assigned groups for each class. Please Note: Course schedule may change.  The Sakai version will always represent the official and up-to-date syllabus.




Network science

Creating contexts through social media

Networked individualism

The mind in the Net

IS related entrepreneurship

Guest Lecture (Fred Stutzman)

IS related start-ups


Future of work

Office of the (near) future


Cloud computing

Big data & what it means

Privacy & anonymity

Guest lecture (Dhawn Hansen)

Online dating

Imagining the future of the Internet


Digital natives

Wearable computing and augmented reality



Working on a system of 100 points total, different components will carry the following weights:


In-class discussions on readings and viewings

30 points

Attendance / Participation /In-class activities

15 points

Personal reflections

20 points

Book report

15 points

Final social media project

20 points


100 points


In-class discussions on readings and viewings:

We use a three-group format for class discussions. The discussion in each class revolves around three groups with different roles (Scientists, Engineers and Devil’s Advocates). In each class, two students are assigned to each group. Please check the schedule regularly for group assignments.


1.       Scientists (2 students)

·         Scientists provide a summary of the key ideas presented in the viewing(s) or reading(s). Highlight what you find interesting and novel.

·         You can defend the key ideas by using other scholarly sources to support them.

·         You must prepare a 10-15 minute presentation or discussion.

2.       Engineers (2 students)

·         Engineers focus on the application of key ideas and explain how we can use them to address other types of problems in our society or in organizations.

·         Your group of two will be expected to provide at least two examples of events/ news items/ case studies / fictional examples/ personal stories that illustrate in a meaningful manner one or more of the topics. Try to pick something that goes beyond a trivial example, one whose significance becomes more apparent in light of the class readings or viewings.

·         You can use your own experience, and should articulate in a creative way how we can apply the concept/idea elsewhere.

·         You must prepare a 10 minute discussion.

3.       Devil’s advocates (2 students)

·         Devil’s advocates are expected to critique the topic, key ideas, and their common applications. You may discuss alternatives.

·         Using a critical perspective, you should examine possible side-effects, challenges and broader negative social impacts.

·         You can use other scholarly sources that oppose the key ideas

·         You must prepare a 10 minute discussion.


The success of this class depends on your active engagement. I expect everyone (not only those who are assigned to participate in the three groups) to come to class not just having read the assigned readings or viewed the videos, but also to have thought about the topics and be ready to discuss them.


Attendance and participation: The structure of this course is meant to engage and stimulate you.  Your attendance and participation are therefore strongly encouraged, and will be rewarded.   This includes attending classes, contributing to class discussions and activities, and working within your group.  Your contribution will be judged not only on quantity, but quality and consistency as well. 


You are required to attend all but two of the classes. However, you have to be present in classes when you are assigned scientist, engineer or devil’s advocate roles, and when you are scheduled to present a book report. Two points will be deducted for missing a third class and four points will be deducted for missing a fourth class, fifth class, etc. 


Personal reflections: You are required to react to readings, viewings and discussions (as assigned) with a 250 – 450 word written response due before the class meets. These reflections should not be a simple repetition of the materials, but should include your opinion and critique of the topic. You will be expected to provide at least one example of an event/ news item / case study / fictional example / personal story that illustrates in a meaningful manner one or more of the topics related to the class.

All students except those who are involved in the class discussion in each class are required to submit these reflections. Please note that all reflections should be submitted by 9 pm the day before class.


Book report: You are required to prepare a review as well as a presentation to the class reporting on a book appropriate to this course;

·         Select books appropriate to this course (consult me and/or choose from the suggested readings as soon as possible). Suggested books are listed on Sakai.

·         Select a date by Feb 1st.

·         Place your book choice in the comments section Doodle.

·         Write an 800-word summary of the book that includes the key ideas and your critique – the summary is due on the day of your presentation.  The summary should be posted on Sakai as an independent blog post.

·         Prepare a presentation to the class reporting on the book. You presentation should include a summary of the core argument and your critique.

·         Please time your presentation for 10 minutes.

·         Present on the date you’ve selected.


Final social media project: This involves a summary project about a specific social media or online communities. Details of the project will be provided later.




The numeric total that you have amassed during the semester will translate into a letter grade according to the following scheme:





What it means


95 >

Mastery of course content at the highest level of attainment that can reasonably be expected



A totally acceptable performance demonstrating an adequate level of attainment



A marginal performance in the required exercises demonstrating a minimal passing level


< 60

For whatever reasons, an unacceptable performance


There may be an extra credit component which is based on your group performance in class.




Because of the participatory nature of this course, you can only benefit if you are present and engaged.  Many of the activities involve group work, and group members will depend on your presence and contribution.  Therefore regular attendance and adequate preparation before class are essential to your individual success, and to that of the class as a whole. 


Any late assignment will incur a penalty of 25% of the grade for each day late.  If you have a recurring issue which causes you to repeatedly miss assignments, you will need to provide the relevant documentation from a medical practitioner, counselor, etc.  If you are experiencing a personal problem, disability, or lifestyle issue that will interfere with your attendance and performance throughout the semester, I encourage you to contact me as soon as possible.


As a common courtesy to us all, cell phones and other electronic devices should be on “silent” mode.  You should bring your laptops but they should only be used for class purposes (i.e., not for checking email, surfing the web, or working on other class assignments, etc.).  Please note that points may be deducted from your participation grade for disruptive behavior such as texting, and inappropriate use of laptops, etc.




Sakai will play a central role in this course. The readings, handouts, this syllabus, and all other electronic information about the course (including your grades) will appear on Sakai.  In addition, the assignments and essays should be submitted to Sakai.





The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has had a student-administered honor system and judicial system for over 100 years. Because academic honesty and the development and nurturing of trust and trustworthiness are important to all of us as individuals, and are encouraged and promoted by the honor system, this is a most significant University tradition. More information is available at


The system is the responsibility of students and is regulated and governed by them, but faculty share the responsibility and readily commit to its ideals. If you have questions about you responsibility under the honor code, please bring them to me or consult with the Office of the Dean of Students. The web site identified above contains all policies and procedures pertaining to the student honor system. We encourage your full participation and observance of this important aspect.




If you feel you may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability, please contact me privately to discuss your specific needs. Also, please contact UNC Disability Services at (919) 962-8300 or at the Student and Academic Services Buildings, located in Suite 2126, 450 Ridge Road, to formally coordinate accommodations and services.


In support of the University’s diversity goals and the mission of the School of Information and Library Science, SILS embraces diversity as an ethical and societal value. We broadly define diversity to include race, gender, national origin, ethnicity, religion, social class, age, sexual orientation and physical and learning ability. As an academic community committed to preparing our graduates to be leaders in an increasingly multicultural and global society we strive to:


The statement represents a commitment of resources to the development and maintenance of an academic environment that is open, representative, reflective and committed to the concepts of equity and fairness.