Information Design & Technology (Graduate) - Course Descriptions

Core Courses

IDT 501 Social Information Theory (3)
Examines the role of theory in effective communication and information design. Explores theoretical approaches and practices from several disciplines (communication, cognitive science, instructional design). Applies front-end analysis and information design strategies and practices. Students work on communication and design problems from instructional environments, business, or government, and present their findings orally, visually, and in writing.

IDT 507 Information Technologies (3)
Assesses the development and social impact of information and communication technologies. Focuses on emerging technologies of the 21st century and the convergence of traditional with new media. Examines the technical features and characteristics of information and communication technologies, and assesses the evidence for significant social impact associated with their diffusion.

IDT 534 Information Design (3)
Explores the theoretical and practical use of graphics as a form of visual communication. Topics include visual perception and forms, design theory, chart and graph theory, relationships between formatted text and graphics, and color and design concepts. Students will apply theory to the design of visuals in communication.

Important: IDT 501, 507, and 534, are offered on a rotating basis, one or two each semester.  It is recommended that students take these core courses during the first three semesters that they are in the program.


Methods Courses

IDT 530 Qualitative Research Methods (3)
Explores a range of qualitative research methods that can be used for studying information design and technology topics, including in-depth interviewing, content analysis, focus groups, historical research, visual analysis, participant observation, case study research, and others. Reviews models and methods of research from fields including information studies, organizational behavior, anthropology and sociology. Research methods and tools adapted for studying the Internet will be emphasized. Students will be exposed to a variety of options for use of qualitative and quantitative methods for thesis papers and projects.

IDT 539 Digital Ethnography (3)
Ethnographic research that focuses on collecting data in the digital realm has been called digital ethnography, virtual ethnography, or cyber ethnography. The commonality is that it requires a merger between specialized skills needed for ethnographic approaches and an understanding of relatively new methods for how to gather, analyze, present, and write about web-based data collected online and/or online phenomena. Critical reflection will be done on how fieldwork in digitally enabled environments must be adapted from traditional ethnographic methods.

IDT 551 Evaluating Technology (3)
Addresses issues that information technology professionals face in selecting technology (both hardware and software) to meet desired goals. Topics include technology classification, evaluation criteria and software and hardware considerations, including the Internet and intranets. Will examine how information is shaped and modified by the technologies that are selected.

IDT 569 Visual Research Methods (3)
Researchers in the information fields use images and other visual data as a source of rich and interesting data. The process and results of fieldwork in a variety of different research settings can be captured in the form of digital images and used to analyze many aspects of the experience and environment. Digital images and the visual information embedded within them are often underutilized by researchers. The visual research methods approach considers how image collection can be ethically conducted, how images can be organized and analyzed, and how it can be described and presented.

Important: The methods courses, IDT 530, 539, 551, and 569 are offered on a regular basis, usually one per semester. If you take more than one of these methods courses, they can be considered electives. 



IDT 503 User Experience Design (3)
Provides students with theoretical frameworks and background needed to analyze the relationship between computer environments and the people who use them. The factors that relate to the design and use of instructional media will be considered. Factors as diverse as ergonomics, software screen design, readability, usability, web testing, and user-centered and contextual analysis will be considered to optimize the effectiveness of information design and instructional media. Students will develop and build an interface designed to carry out a sequence of well-defined tasks based on user/system requirements and project methodology guidelines and research information.

IDT 510 Social Media (3)
An introduction to various types of social media along with ideological and technological foundations. The emphasis on practical understanding through hand-on exercises and collaboration will help demonstrate the larger concepts of social presence and the use and effectiveness of social media in personal and professional life. Blogs and microblogs (twitter), wikis, social networking sites, including bookmarking, video and image sharing, podcasts and vlogs will be tested and evaluated.

IDT 515 Massive Online Collaboration (3)
Massive Online Collaboration often involves relatively small contributions by many people in order to accomplish large projects or tasks. One example is a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC), in which participants and course resources are distributed and students collaborate openly for the purpose of learning. In this seminar, students will participate in and analyze several different types of massive online collaborations, depending on the student’s interests. Connectivism, networked learning, creativity, design challenges and inclusiveness will be addressed as students learn about online activities that include large numbers of participants.

IDT 516 Critical Perspectives on New Media (3)
An examination of the cultural significance of new media and new media technologies. The course will explore the emergence of new media from two intersecting perspectives. First, we will examine new media within the context of twentieth century analyses of modern (particularly mass) culture. By doing so, we can explore the ways in which emerging mediums of culture expression continue, amplify, and/or break with the social and cultural logics of modern culture. Second, we will look at more recent efforts to theorize and critically assess new media. This will enable us to ask what is new about new media, and what possibilities are inherent in the new characteristics of these emerging cultural technologies. Students will engage in theoretical discussions and analyses of new media through the application of these theoretical perspectives.

IDT 518  Advanced New Media Theory and Digital Culture (3)
Studies the meaning of ‘New Media’ and its influence on culture. Through readings, discussions, analysis of cultural artifacts as well as a longer hands-on project, we will reveal the underlying ideas of our digital historical moment. As we analyze various modes of presentation, we will investigate the impact electronic media have had on society and explore its implications for activities such as online learning and education. Using a series of writings by pioneers in new media theory, we will place our current 21st century culture in a larger framework of established theoretical perspectives.

IDT 519 Gamification (3)
Gamification is the use of frameworks and common design tropes from the video game industry to solve problems and engage audiences. The class will have a number of readings on the subject which will be discussed during online sessions. The course will utilize modding and free Software Development Kits (SDKs) to build projects that demonstrate gamification. Programming experience is not required to take the course. Project topics will range from simple informative serious games (such as “Darfur Is Dying”) to skill acquisition (such as triage training).

IDT 521  Global Communications (3)
An exploration of globalization and changing communication processes as they relate to information design and technology. Topics include economics, trade, human trafficking, technology, poverty, development, immigration, environment, and activism. The seminar will allow for opportunities to learn about global communication and practice cross-cultural and international communication skills. Students will also be analyzing key issues using current literature from a variety of fields.

IDT 523  Digital Narratives (3)
The theory and practice of creating digital narratives across a range of media is the main topic of this course. The focus will be on different applications of digital narratives that have emerged, and how these applications can be adapted to professional work in a variety of fields. Students will learn about developing a personal narrative and how it can be implemented with digital media. Effective digital design will be addressed. New tools and frameworks for storytelling with digital media will be presented.

IDT 535 Typographic Design and Communication (3)
Investigates typographic variables and methods of organization. Verbal, visual and vocal message-making is explored through the marriage of meaning and form. This facilitates the development of an aesthetic vocabulary combined with an increased sensitivity to language. Issues of hierarchy, readability, and syntax will be examined through a series of projects. The assignments range from realistic, client-based problems to highly abstract, heuristic exercises.

IDT 536 Graphic Design (3)
An advanced exploration of the theoretical and practical application of consumer, trade and public service graphic design. Students will study the contemporary history and evolution of advertising’s use of graphics as a means of visual communication. Students will create at least seven promotional pieces with emphasis on presentation and professional work. An introduction to the theory of computer-based imaging and the exploration of a variety of hands-on techniques pertaining to design creation, manipulation, and construction. Students should have a general understanding of Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Illustrator, and Adobe InDesign.

IDT 541 Instructional Design (3)
Students will learn about the fundamentals of instructional design, its variations and impact on learning outcomes. Several contemporary ID models will be examined. Students will ultimately adopt a personal approach to instructional design.

IDT 542 Online Learning – Techniques, Technologies, and Opportunities (3)
A look at the key issues, developing technologies, and leading debates in the field of online learning. Examines potential for transforming higher education in a number of fundamental ways including its impact on pedagogical practices, widening access to higher education, government policy initiatives, and access to learning resources.

IDT 545 Informational Technology and Organizational Change (3)
Examines the theoretical framework of change theory and research in various fields and issues facing individuals or institutions engaged in change. Students will discuss the elements of the change process, the roles of participants in the process and implications for change agents or agencies. Students will apply knowledge of diffusion and diffusion research to a planned, ongoing or past diffusion effort, preparing recommendations or post-mortem analysis of the process. Desirability and unintended consequences of innovations will also be discussed. Non-matriculated students need permission of dean to enroll.

IDT 548 Contemporary Trends in Data Visualization (3)
Data can be understood as one of the twenty-first century's most valuable resources. Underlying the rise of new forms of science, social media and finance, data are produced in increased amounts that require extraction, analysis and representation. This course introduces students to the emerging fields of visual analytics and data visualization, which involve the development of cognitive artifacts that help analysts communicate and gain new insights into the data. It considers the use of design principles, cognitive science, and aesthetics to represent and analyze large-scale data sets. It includes a survey of data visualization work in various domains (art, journalism, information design, network analysis, science, and map-based applications) as well as different media (print, screen, interactive, 3d). Finally, it provides insights into debates about data aesthetics, art and design methodological approaches. Students will apply these principles, and take inspiration from the examples, to create their own visualizations.

IDT 553 Principles and Projects in New Media (3)
An advanced consideration of communication theory as it relates to visual language and the ways designers use and readers process such information. Analyzes the strengths and limits of various media and applies design principles applicable to each medium and to the integration of visuals with language and sound. Students analyze and evaluate selected readings and examples and use publishing techniques to design and produce new media products.

IDT 554 Web Development and Design (3)
Considers advanced aspects of web system design and development. Issues covered include server-site application development, client-side application development, and web graphics. The user-machine interaction will be considered with a focus on user interface design principles, guidelines and standards. The advantages and disadvantages of various graphical user interfaces and object-oriented user interfaces will be discussed.

IDT 555 Ethical and Legal Issues of the Information Age (3)
Analyzes ethical and legal issues related to information technologies. Examines the ways that technology challenges traditional ethical and legal concepts and raises old issues in new ways. Topics reflect recent patterns and developments, with particular emphasis on how technological developments shape, and are shaped by, the economic and political structure and organization of communication systems. Examines the role ethical and legal factors play in the day-to-day work of designers, producers and consumers using a series of contemporary issues as case studies.

IDT 560 Digital Photography (3)
Students learn about a variety of photography genres through research and exploration. They will apply this information to their own photographic projects. Students completing this course will be able to identify composition theories, explore different types of photography, including, but not limited to, portrait, photo journalism, photo manipulation, street photography, and event photography. Students will showcase their completed projects in a group exhibit. All levels of photographers are welcome.

IDT 575 Designing/Writing Interactive Text (3)
Explores the contemporary practice of writing in digital environments, with an emphasis on hypertext and hypertextuality. Reviews the history of writing, and the notion of interactivity. Techniques for writing digital texts with navigational and semantic elements are presented and practiced. Students design and write wikis featuring words, images, video and audio, and use a variant of Markdown to structure elements and render documents and texts consistent with contemporary standards of design and presentation.

IDT 585 Seminar in Emerging Technologies (3)
Takes an in-depth look at emerging technologies including but not limited to multimedia, distance learning, networking and the Internet. Reviews technical, social, economic and political factors associated with new and emerging information technologies. Examines trends in the development and diffusion of emerging information technologies. Explores, through practical application, use of emerging information technologies in educational settings.

IDT 590 Selected Topics in Information Design and Technology (3)
Provides students with the opportunity to investigate selected topics in information and design technology. Topics will typically illustrate the application of theory and research. Students may receive credit in a future semester for different topic areas.

IDT 591 Independent Study (1-3)

IDT 592 Internship (3)
Application of theory to real-life situations through placement in an appropriate work-related setting. Requires completion of assigned projects under the joint supervision of a faculty member and a professional supervisor. Prerequisite: Faculty will determine on a case-by-case basis if student is adequately prepared for an internship. The student will be required to make a proposal for an internship and IDT faculty will review each request.

IDT 599 Thesis/Project (3)
Students complete as in-depth quantitative or qualitative empirical study of a topic chosen by the student from the area of information design and technology. Students will work individually on projects and will act as a resource for other students working on their thesis, reviewing their work, offering comments and suggestions, and sharing ideas. At the completion of the course, students will present their final paper to the college community. This is a capstone course for students who are close to graduation in Information Design and Technology. Students must have already taken or are currently taking a research methods course. They should take the course after taking all core courses. Permission of the instructor is required for admission to the class. Only S/U grades are awarded for this course.

CMT 600 Continuous Registration (1)
Maintaining continuous registration is a requirement for all graduate degrees. Students who have completed most course requirements but are finishing projects, capstone experiences, thesis or are satisfying Incomplete or In-Progress grades must register to maintain continuous matriculation. Course may be taken up to 6 semesters at which time it is expected that all program requirements will have been met. Credit is not used toward program completion requirements. Only S/U grades are awarded for this course.


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