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College of Professional and Global Education · School of Information

Seminar in Information Science - Design Thinking
INFO 287

  • Spring 2023
  • Section 17
  • 2 Unit(s)
  • 01/25/2023 to 03/21/2023
  • Modified 05/22/2023

Canvas Information: Courses will be available January 25th, 6 am PT.

You will be enrolled in the Canvas site automatically.

Contact Information

Dr. Steven J. Bell
E-mail (will be monitoring regularly)
[email protected] (use if there is greater urgency)

E-mail policy: I will regularly be reviewing and responding to e-mail and discussion board posts before 9:00 am and after 7:00 pm ET. I will not be responding to e-mails between 10:00 pm and 7:00 am ET Mon-Fri. Please anticipate more limited and slower response times on weekends. If I am going to be unavailable owing to travel or other reasons, I will provide advance notice so students can anticipate delays in responses.

Other contact information: 215-204-5023 - office phone (please leave a voicemail message if I do not answer your call)
Office location: I do not maintain a physical office 
Drop-In Chat: I am available for a virtual meeting or phone conference by appointment. I will offer regular, web-based one-hour open meeting time for any student questions.

Course Information

This is a 2-credit course that runs from Wednesday, January 25 through March 21, 2023.

NOTE: The instructor will provide a detailed syllabus that will serve as a roadmap to the course, including readings and learning activities for each week. Look for this syllabus in Canvas course site.
NOTE: Two assignments are completed with a partner. Be prepared to engage in these activities.
NOTE: Some assignments are best accomplished by visiting a library (preferably one other than where you currently work). While it is possible to complete assignments without a visit to a local library (of any type) it is strongly encouraged to have the optimal learning experience in this course.

Course Description and Requisites

Design thinking is a process that designers use to identify the nature of a problem and then develop a solution. As librarians design services, resources, workflows, instructional activities, and more, they can use design thinking as a process to accomplish their work. This course is an examination of design thinking as a problem finding and solving approach for library services, and how it can be applied by librarians to identify human-centered solutions. In this course, design thinking is presented as a six-phase process librarians engage in with their colleagues to achieve a deeper understanding of their constituents with the goal of improving the library user experience. Students may not become designers, but they will think more like them - an important skill for the library workplace as design becomes more integral to all the work we do


INFO 200, other prerequisites may be added depending on content.

Classroom Protocols


Students are expected to participate fully in all class activities. It is expected that students will be open-minded and participate fully in discussions in class and debate in a mature and respectful manner. Use of derogatory, condescending, or offensive language including profanity is prohibited. Disagreement is healthy and perfectly acceptable. Expressing disagreement should always include an explanation of your reasoning and, whenever possible, evidence to support your position. In accordance with San José State University's Policies, the Student Code of Conduct, and applicable state and federal laws, discrimination based on gender, gender identity, gender expression, race, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, or disability is prohibited in any form.

Program Information

Course Workload

Success in this course is based on the expectation that students will spend, for each unit of credit, a minimum of forty-five hours over the length of the course (normally 3 hours per unit per week with 1 of the hours used for lecture) for instruction or preparation/studying or course related activities including but not limited to internships, labs, clinical practica. Other course structures will have equivalent workload expectations as described in the syllabus.

Instructional time may include but is not limited to:
Working on posted modules or lessons prepared by the instructor; discussion forum interactions with the instructor and/or other students; making presentations and getting feedback from the instructor; attending office hours or other synchronous sessions with the instructor.

Student time outside of class:
In any seven-day period, a student is expected to be academically engaged through submitting an academic assignment; taking an exam or an interactive tutorial, or computer-assisted instruction; building websites, blogs, databases, social media presentations; attending a study group; contributing to an academic online discussion; writing papers; reading articles; conducting research; engaging in small group work.

Course Goals

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes) Supported

INFO 287 supports the following core competencies:

  1. J Describe the fundamental concepts of information-seeking behaviors and how they should be considered when connecting individuals or groups with accurate, relevant and appropriate information.

Course Learning Outcomes (CLOs)

Upon successful completion of the course, students will be able to:

  1. Appraise situations and assess if design thinking is the appropriate process to use for the improvement of library services.
  2. Demonstrate the ability to develop and execute a design challenge.
  3. Describe the multiple stages of the design thinking process to explain how a design thinking challenge operates.
  4. Differentiate between design thinking and user experience but recognize how each complements the other.

Course Materials


No Textbooks For This Course.

Course Requirements and Assignments

  • Discussion Board Posts - Five graded posts (3 points per post) 15 points (supports CLOs #1-4)
  • Week 1 - Deep Dive Video Reflection Piece - 5 points (supports CLO #1)
  • Week 2 - Ethnographic Research Challenge - 10 points (supports CLO #1-2)
  • Week 3 - How Might We Statement Exercise - 5 points (supports CLOs #1, 3)
  • Weeks 4 and 5 - Design Challenge #1 - 20 points (supports CLO #3)
  • Weeks 6 and 7 - Design Challenge #2 - 20 points (supports CLO #2)
  • Week 8 - Final Design Thinking Project (choose from two options) - 25 points (supports CLOs #1-4)


Grading will be based on 100 possible points.

  • Assignments are due on Tuesday and must be submitted by 11:59 pm.
  • Late submissions lose 1 point for each day of lateness up to a maximum of 7 points.
  • If life circumstances require students to request an extension, please do so several days before the assignment is due or as soon as possible.
  • Communication and interaction throughout the semester via the course site is expected and required.

Grading Information

The standard SJSU School of Information Grading Scale is utilized for all iSchool courses:

97 to 100A
94 to 96A minus
91 to 93B plus
88 to 90B
85 to 87B minus
82 to 84C plus
79 to 81C
76 to 78C minus
73 to 75D plus
70 to 72D
67 to 69D minus
Below 67F


In order to provide consistent guidelines for assessment for graduate level work in the School, these terms are applied to letter grades:

  • C represents Adequate work; a grade of "C" counts for credit for the course;
  • B represents Good work; a grade of "B" clearly meets the standards for graduate level work or undergraduate (for BS-ISDA);
    For core courses in the MLIS program (not MARA, Informatics, BS-ISDA) — INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204 — the iSchool requires that students earn a B in the course. If the grade is less than B (B- or lower) after the first attempt you will be placed on administrative probation. You must repeat the class if you wish to stay in the program. If - on the second attempt - you do not pass the class with a grade of B or better (not B- but B) you will be disqualified.
  • A represents Exceptional work; a grade of "A" will be assigned for outstanding work only.

Graduate Students are advised that it is their responsibility to maintain a 3.0 Grade Point Average (GPA). Undergraduates must maintain a 2.0 Grade Point Average (GPA).

University Policies

Per University Policy S16-9 (PDF), relevant university policy concerning all courses, such as student responsibilities, academic integrity, accommodations, dropping and adding, consent for recording of class, etc. and available student services (e.g. learning assistance, counseling, and other resources) are listed on the Syllabus Information web page. Make sure to visit this page to review and be aware of these university policies and resources.

Course Schedule

Dates, assignments, readings are subject to change

This course will run on a Wednesday-Tuesday schedule. New material will be available on Wednesdays and assignments will be due by 11:59 pm on Tuesdays (unless otherwise specified). While students can set Canvas to their own time zone, the iSchool technology team recommends leaving it set to Pacific Standard Time.

Week 1: Wednesday, 1/25/23

Get Acquainted: Introduction to course & design thinking

Week 2: Wednesday, 2/1/23

Deeper dive into design thinking: empathic design; ethnographic research

Week 3: Wednesday, 2/8/23

Problem identification phase; How Might We Statements; creating design challenges

Week 4: Wednesday, 2/15/23

Deeper dive into design thinking: brainstorming and prototyping

Week 5: Wednesday, 2/22/23

Deeper dive into design thinking: project implementation and evaluation

Week 6: Wednesday, 3/1/23

Intersection between design thinking and user experience

Week 7: Wednesday, 3/8/23

Design thinking and service design; developing personas

Week 8: Wednesday, 3/15/23

Alternate perspectives on design thinking; design thinking and your library practice

Final Assignment Due 3/22/23