LIBR 559A (3) Sociotechnical Perspectives of Information Systems


MLIS and Dual MAS/MLIS: completion of the MLIS core

MAS: completion of MAS core and permission of the iSchool Graduate Advisor

GOAL: The purpose of this course is to explore the sociotechnical aspects of information systems. This course will draw upon multiple perspectives, including information science, sociology, anthropology, human-computer interaction, and media and communication studies to critically examine the ways in which technologies shape and are shaped by their contexts of use. To this end, we will focus on information practices within groups, communities and organizations, the constraints and opportunities afforded through technologies, and how social, political, and historical influences are intertwined with technology.


Upon completion of this course students will be able to:

  • Understand and utilize different perspectives in the appraisal of information technology [1.2]*
  • Identify social, technical, historical, political and organizational factors that shape and are shaped by technology [1.3, 1.4]*
  • Describe instances where technologies have failed, succeeded, or had unintended consequences and the potential reasons behind these outcomes [1.3, 1.4]*
  • Analyze the implications of sociotechnical factors on the design, adoption, evaluation and use of technology, especially in information settings [1.3, 1.4, 4.1]*
  • Evaluate different types of information systems in various contexts, such as learning and workplace environments, including libraries [1.3, 1.4, 4.1]*

* Course objectives are stated in terms of student learning outcomes and reference the iSchool Statement on Graduate Competencies.


  • Historical perspectives on technology and society
  • Artifacts and Practices
  • Technology and the workplace
  • Technology and social relationships
  • Design approaches
  • Implementation: adoption and diffusion
  • Use: intended and unintended outcomes
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