SLIS:5020 Computing Foundations

Fall 2017

Course Overview

In this course, we will begin to break into the "black box" of the computer. The LIS field demands professionals who are competent in computing and comfortable working with digital platforms and tools. Computing is more than simply sending email, building webpages, and creating documents. In this course, we will utilize the Raspberry Pi to fully explore hardware, software, and the tool that we call the computer. As a survey course, we cannot possibly address every technology that you will encounter in your practice. Instead, the goal of this course is to provide you with an opportunity to explore various aspects of computing and to critically engage with hardware and software.

To be successful in this course you must: tinker, play, build, make, tweak, experiment, hack, and break things. You will push your boundaries and the boundaries of the technology, ask many questions of yourself and your peers, be confused and/or frustrated and/or lost, dig yourself out of those traps and think deeply about the digital tools that you will engage with during your time here at SLIS, in your professional posts, and in all other aspects of your life. This course is not about gaining mastery of particular tools, but rather building the skills and experience that will allow you to be comfortable and confident engaging with and evaluating new and familiar technologies.

Required Technology

Each student must purchase a Raspberry Pi by the third week of class. The Raspberry Pi is a credit card sized computer that will allow us to build servers and webpages, experiment with programming in Python, and work with content management systems like WordPress. If none of these terms is familiar, do not despair - the Raspberry Pi is a blank slate from which we will all work together to complete the projects as a group.

You will each need to purchase a Raspberry Pi and a few essential pieces of hardware to make it functional. You'll want to have your Pi in hand for our third class meeting - September 11th. You may elect to purchase the individual components listed below or find a starter kit that contains the elements you need:

  1. Raspberry Pi 3
  2. 16G or larger Class 10 Micro SD Card
  3. Power supply
  4. HDMI cable (or HDMI output to an input appropriate for your monitor)
  5. Raspberry Pi 3 heatsink kit (recommended)
  6. Raspberry Pi 3 case (optional)

In addition to these components, you'll need access to a monitor with a HDMI port (or the appropriate adaptor) and a USB keyboard and mouse. If you are taking the on-campus version of the course, the monitor, HDMI cable, keyboard, and mouse will be available for you.



Weekly Check-Ins

During the last 15 minutes of the class session each week you will complete a short open book, open neighbor, quiz covering the major concepts introduced in the assigned reading and projects, along with two reflective questions (What was your take-away from today's class? and What was the muddiest/most difficult/confusing point?). This assignment will serve as a check-point so that I can ensure that everyone is clear on the major concepts introduced in class. This is also an opportunity for you to review and reflect on the week, provide feedback, and continue the conversation with your classmates.

Lab Notebooks

Throughout the course of the term, we will be working on a number of projects with the Raspberry Pi. At the beginning of each project, you will be provided with a set of instructions that will guide you through the successful completion of the project. Your lab notebook will document your experience completing the projects including your questions and observations and responses to the discussion questions included the project instructions. Each notebook will conclude with a short reflection (1000 word minimum) summarizing what you have learned and how you learned during the process of completing the project. The reflection should provide an analysis of the experience drawing upon the course topics, themes, and readings. Someone reading your reflection should have a sense of why this project was significant to your learning, how your understanding of computing has changed (or not), and how the project has impacted your understanding of technology in your LIS practice.


Reading and Topic Schedule

Week 1 | Introduction to Computing Foundations

ACRL, "Information Literacy Competency Standards for Higher Education,"

Iowa CORE, "Technological Literacy,"

Office for Information Technology Policy's Digital Literacy Task Force, "Digital Literacy, Libraries, and Public Policy," (January 2013),


Week 2 | Binary, Bits, and Basics

Project 1 Instructions

Charles Petzold, "Bit by Bit by Bit," and "Bytes and Hex," Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware and Software (Redmond, WA: Microsoft Press, 2000): 69-85 and 180-189.

Kenneth Thibodeau, "Overview of Technological Approaches to Digital Preservation and Challenges in Coming Years," The State of Digital Preservation: An International Perspective (Washington DC: Council on Library and Information Resources, 2002): 4-13.


Week 3 | Introduction to Raspberry Pi

Project 2 Instructions

Ryan Heitz, "Meet Raspberry Pi," Hello Raspberry Pi! (Shelter Island, NY: Manning, 2016): 3-32.

Neal Stephenson, In the Beginning…Was the Command Line (New York: Avon Books, 1999): 1-69.

Rob Zwetsloot, "The Raspberry PI PC Challenge," The MagPi 59 (July 2017): 16-29.


Weeks 4 + 5 | HTML/CSS

Project 3 Instructions, "HTML Introduction,", "CSS Introduction,"

Jay David bolter and Richard Grusin, "The World Wide Web," in Remediation: Understanding New Media (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999):196-210.

Tim Berners-Lee, "Information Management: A Proposal," (CERN, March 1989):

Vannevar Bush, "As We May Think, The Atlantic (July 1945):

Watch: "Memex Animation - Vannevar Bush's diagrams made real"


Weeks 6-7 | XML/XSLT

Project 4 Instructions

Julie Meloni, "A Pleasant Little Chat about XML," ProfHacker (blog), October 6, 2009:

TEI Text Encoding Initiative, "A Gentle Introduction to XML,"

Anne J. Gilliland, "Setting the Stage" in Introduction to Metadata, Third Edition, Murtha Baca, ed. (Los Angeles: Getty, 2016):

Janet H. Murray, "The Library Model of Collocating Information," in Inventing the Medium (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012): 191-220.

Tony Gill, "Metadata and the Web" in Introduction to Metadata, Third Edition, Murtha Baca, ed. (Los Angeles: Getty, 2016):

Sonia Yaco, "It's Complicated: Barriers to EAD Implementation" American Archivist 71 (Fall/Winter 2008): 456-475.


Weeks 8-9 | Python

Project 5 Instructions

Andromeda Yelton, "Political and Social Dimensions of Library Code," and "Learning to Code," Library Technology Reports 51, no. 3 (April 2015): 22-25 and 26-30.

PFS Python Brochure

Janet H. Murray, "Computational Strategies of Representation" and "Building Procedural Complexity," in Inventing the Medium (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012): 107-158.


Weeks 10-12| LAMP

Project 6 Instructions

Ed Krol, "What is the Internet" and "How the Internet Works," in The Whole Internet: User's Guide and Catalog, Second Edition (Sebastopol, CA: O'Reilley, 1994): 13-21 and 23-34.

Janet Abbate, "Building the ARPANET: Challenges and Strategies," in Inventing the Internet (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1999): 43-81.

Finn Brunton, "Ready for the Next Message: 1971-1994," in SPAM: A Shadow History of the Internet (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2013): 1-62.


Weeks 13-14 | WordPress

Project 7 Instructions

Janet H. Murray, "The Structured Document Model: Using Standardized Metadata to Share Knowledge" in Inventing the Medium (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2012): 253-287.

Kyle M. L. Jones and Polly Alida-Farrington, "Getting Started with Wordpress," Library Technology Reports (April 2011): 8-15.

Kyle M. L. Jones and Polly Alida-Farrington, "Guest Pieces," Library Technology Reports (April 2011): 34-60.