I teach human information behavior theory and basic to advanced tools for processing, manipulating, packaging, designing, and disseminating information. I have a professional background in system administration which mostly now expresses itself through tinkering with automation, system building, and poking around at the Internet of Things. My classroom ethos is very much informed by this activity as it allows me to teach students not to worry about breaking things and to focus on exploration instead.

Current courses

User Interface Design (INLS 718)

The purpose of this course is to allow students to engage with the interfaces between human beings and information systems in a critical way. The course content covers a range of topics, organized around a few main principles design thinking, user experience, and design critique.

A key component of this class is critical discussion of principles of accessibility, collective action and social design, and social justice expressed through design. It is important in this day and age to consider that while no design can be universal because of the properties and biases embedded by designers, we should be aiming to create interfaces, interactions, and experiences that do not specifically marginialize people. In the spirit of this, a good portion of our design critique and readings on affordances will be oriented toward addressing structural inequalities embedded in the built world.

Work for the course centers on a single project on which the whole class will work, operating like a design and development team, rather than working on individual projects. Collaboration is one of the major organizing principles for this course.We are working with Triangle area entrepreneur and electrical engineer Erica Young on an interface project related to helping people better interact with GNU Radio, primary interface for use with software defined radio (SDR) boards.

Students self-organize into teams, based on skills and interests, that will be responsible for managing different aspects of the project. We aim to create a working prototype by the end of the semester. In doing this we learn about hard skills of design: coding, version control, prototyping, user testing, and rollout. More importantly we also learn the so-called soft-skills necessary for design: design thinking, project planning, workflow design/management, group decision-making, and collaboration.

Most recent syllabus available here.

Past Courses

Tools for Information Literacy (INLS 161)

This course covers tools and concepts for information literacy. It includes software use and maintenance, computer applications, and networked information systems. The course introduces some basic technology tools as an essential component of information literacy training:

Most recent syllabus available here.

Human Information Interactions (INLS 500)

This course is a broad survey of literature in information science which highlights social, cognitive, organizational, institutional, behavioral approaches for understanding and contextualizing interactions between people and information. The content of this course underlies much of an ILS curriculum because it introduces students to core concepts with implications for practice as information professionals. It also serves in part as a disciplinary onboarding course, in which students become oriented to the theory, methods, and epistemologies of information science.

Students completing this course will:

  1. become familiar with the empirical and theoretical literature related to information seeking, including the recognition of information needs, actions taken to resolve those needs, the roles of intermediaries (both human and machine), and the retrieval and use of information;
  2. understand key concepts related to the ways in which information is created, structured, disseminated and used, with particular emphasis on scholarly information behaviors;
  3. be able to investigate the ways in which the context of an information interaction can affect the process and outcomes of that interaction;
  4. be able to investigate information behaviors and practices, including the impact of technology on human information interactions; and
  5. critically apply theories and empirical findings to the definition and solution of problems related to human information interactions.

Most recent syllabus available here.

Teaching - John D. Martin III