L401: Computer-Based Information Tools
Indiana University
School of Library and Information Science
Bloomington, Indiana
Spring Semester, 1997
(Waiver for 401)

Course Description

This course will be an introduction to fundamental concepts of and techniques related to computer-based information tools, computer platforms, major classes of microcomputer application software, online information retrieval, general networking, and the Internet. This course is a prerequisite for participation at SLIS, and understanding of the materials therein should be considered critical for current and future information professionals and librarians. The knowledge and experience gained in this course will also prepare SLIS students for participation in other technology-intensive SLIS courses in which these fundamental skills will be taken to higher levels.

Course Objectives

  1. Students will be familiar with and able to use common personal productivity applications as word processors, spreadsheets, databases, and electronic mail in their work, and be able to integrate the use of these tools.
  2. Students will have understanding of and proficiency in the use of Internet-based tools (Telnet, FTP, Usenet, and the World Wide Web), and Internet information resources.
  3. Students will be able to use the Unix, Microsoft Windows and Macintosh computer platforms to create and manipulate documents, and will be able to transfer documents from one platform to the other.
  4. Students will be familiar with the basic concepts of online searching and retrieval, including controlled vocabulary, Boolean logic, indexing, search languages, and common bibliographic and fulltext databases.
  5. Students will be able to use computer tools to communicate and share documents, using tools such as electronic mail, USENet newsgroups, and Local Area Networks.

Meeting Times (Bloomington Campus)

There are three lab sections of this course in the Spring semester, 1997, and one common lecture section. Students must sign up both for a lab section and the lecture section. Together, they make up a single three credit course.

Lecture: Section 6474 Friday, 10:00am-11:00am LI033 (SLIS Auditorium)

Lab Sections: Section 6475 Tuesday, 9:00am-10:45am BH107
Section 6476 Wednesday, 9:05am-10:50am SB220
Section 6477 Thursday, 9:00am-10:45am BH107

This course will be transmitted via IHETS television to IUN in Gary.


Lecture Instructor

Uta Priss
Phone: (812) 855-2793

Office Hours: Wednesday 1pm - 3 pm, Thursday 10am - 12am.

Lab Instructors

Dorothy Day (Bloomington)
Joyce Hommel (Bloomington)
Jennifer McIntosh-Elkins (Gary)


Since this course is skills-based, we are proposing to have it graded on a pass/fail basis. If this should not be approved by the Curriculum Steering Committee and the IU administration you would get a letter grade based on the following: The decision about the pass/fail grading will be made during the semester. Passing the course will be equivalent to a minimum grade of B. If you for some reason need a letter grade, please contact the instructor.


The assigned readings for each week should be completed before lectures to which they belong. As this is a skills-based class, the emphasis of the class is not upon reading, but upon performing and understanding the tasks and tools discussed. However, readings that will supplement the material significantly will be used and discussed. The readings that are marked `optional' are recommended for students who want to carry on and learn more about the topics than the lecture and labs provide. The content of these readings will not be necessary for participating in the class or for accomplishing the assignments.

Required Text (to be purchased from bookstore):

McKim, Geoffrey. Internet Research Companion. Indianapolis, IN: QUE E&T, 1996.

Readings (on reserve in the SLIS library):

1) Rosenbaum, Howard and Hert, Carol. Internet Skills for Information Networking.
2) O'Brien, James A. Management Information Systems: Managing Information Technology in the Networked Enterprise. Chicago, IL: Irwin, 1996).
3) Several class materials from the UCS Education Program


Assignments will be of a practical nature, allowing the student to demonstrate the skills discussed and practiced in the class. The assignments will be distributed through the Email Distribution List (see below) and will be published on this page.
Each assignment is due by the beginning of the next lab. Assignments will not be accepted late unless arrangements with the instructor are made in advance.

Electronic Communications

Email Distribution Lists

The instructional team will use a majordomo distribution list to distribute the assignments and to communicate with students about course matters. In addition, the distribution list may be used to facilitate intra-class communication. The distribution list is priss_l401@indiana.edu.

Course Topics Calendar

Note: The topics are introduced in the lectures on Fridays. Exercises for each topic are given in the lab sections in the next week following the lecture.

Topic 1: Getting Started

Labs: Assignment: (Not to be handed in, but to be completed by the end of lab).
1) Obtain an e-mail account for yourself (for Bloomington students: the account has to be on the Shakespeare cluster).
2) Subscribe to the slis-l and to the priss_l401 majordomo lists.

Readings: UCS Education Program: E-Mail with Pine on Shakespeare

Topic 2: Using the World Wide Web

Lecture on Friday, January 17: Labs: Click here for the assignment.

Readings: McKim Chapters 3 and 4; UCS Education Program: Browse the Web: Internet Basics;

Optional readings: UCS Help Online and the UCS Knowledge Base: http://www.indiana.edu/~ucspubs/b135

Topic 3: Introduction to Unix

Lecture on Friday, January 24: Labs: Click here for the assignment.

Readings: O'Brien, Chapters 4-5; UCS Education Program: Introduction to Unix.

Optional readings: The Unix Workstation Support Group

Topic 4: Introduction to the PC, Word processing with WordPerfect

Lecture on Friday, January 31: Labs: Click here for the assignment.

Readings: UCS Education Program: File Management and IUB Lockers; Introduction to Computing Using Windows; WordPerfect: For New Users Only

Topic 5: Introduction to the Macintosh, Word processing with WordPerfect

Lecture on Friday, February 7: Labs: Click here for the assignment.

Readings: UCS Education Program: Macintosh: Step 1, The Basics.

Optional Readings: Lockers 2.0: The Handbook

Topic 6: Graphics and other data formats

Lecture on Friday, February 14: Labs: Click here for the assignment.

Readings: McKim Chapter 2

Optional Reading: WWW Viewer Test Page

Topic 7: Internet Tools: Telnet, FTP, USENet

Lecture on Friday, February 21: Labs: Click here for the assignment.

Readings: McKim Chapter 1, 5, 15; Rosenbaum & Hert, Chapters 2.2 and 3.1

Optional readings: Rosenbaum & Hert Chapters 3.2 and 2.3

Exam 1 handed out

Topic 8: Advanced E-Mail

Lecture on Friday, February 28: Labs: Click here for the assignment.

Readings: McKim Chapters 12 - 14; Rosenbaum & Hert Chapter 2.1

Optional readings: Getting Started With Pine: http://www.washington.edu/pine/tutorial/index.html, Pine User's Guide: http://www.washington.edu/pine/user-guide/index.html.

Exam 1 due

Topic 9: Publishing Documents on the Web

Lecture on Friday, March 7: Labs: Click here for the assignment.

Readings: HTML Quick Reference: http://www.cc.ukans.edu/info/HTML_quick.html,
for Bloomington students: Creating a Personal WWW Home Page at IUB: http://www.indiana.edu/ip/ip_support/www_personal.html
for Gary students: Creating a Personal WWW Home Page at IUN: http://www.stu.iun.indiana.edu/protocol.htm,
A Beginner's Guide to HTML: http://www.ncsa.uiuc.edu/General/Internet/WWW/HTMLPrimer.html.

Optional readings: UCS Education Program: Publish on the Web; UCS Education Program: Create a Web Page Using HTML

Topic 10: Basics of Online Search Systems and information retrieval

Lecture on Friday, March 14: Guest Lecture from Professor Shaw Labs: Assignment: Click here for the Worksheet from Professor Shaw

Readings: McKim Chapter 6 - 8; Handout from Professor Shaw

Topic 11: More Online Search Systems

Lecture on Friday, March 28: Labs: Click here for the assignment.

Readings: McKim Chapters 9 - 11.

Topic 12: Introduction to Script Programming

Lecture on Friday, April 4: Labs: Click here for the assignment.

Topic 13: Introduction to Spreadsheets

Lecture on Friday, April 11: Labs: Click here for the assignment.

Readings: UCS Education Program: Create a Spreadsheet Using Excel.

Topic 14: Introduction to Database Management Systems

Lecture on Friday, April 18: Labs: Click here for the assignment.

Readings: O'Brien Chapter 7; UCS Education Program: MS Access for Windows, Step 1.

Exam 2 handed out

Topic 15: Introduction to Database Management Systems, Cont'd

Lecture on Friday, April 25: Labs: Readings: UCS Education Program: MS Access for Windows, Step 2.

Exam 2 due

Topic 16: Special Topic: Computers and Health

Lecture on Friday, May 2:

No Labs

Readings: UCS Publication: Computers and Health

Copyright 1997 Uta Priss