In order for us to teach our courses at the graduate level, you are expected to have certain computer skills. You can acquire these skills before you begin the program or by taking special free workshops that are offered by the iSchool and the LIS Library during the early part of the semester. When classes start, you will be expected to have three basic competencies:
- Elementary computer literacy. This means that you can perform such tasks as run a program and organize and manipulate files on a personal computer, remote computer (such as a server), or removable media (such as a USB storage device). You are expected to know how to compose and print a research paper with appropriate figures and/or tables using a standard word processing program. If you own a computer, you should know how to set it up, install software, and connect it to a network (via broadband, or wireless connection). You may gain these skills at a local community college, through self-tutoring, or elsewhere. You are encouraged but not required to have your own computer. Several computer firms offer educational discounts through the University Micro-Order Center. The on-campus School computer lab is Macintosh-based, however Windows and Unix/Linux users are also supported in the School.
- E-mail and bulletin board skills. You should know how to communicate using e-mail and electronic bulletin/message boards. This requires both a mastery of the technical issues of usage (how to read and reply to messages) and an understanding of proper etiquette. Please refer to our Moodle Tech Tutorial for a guide to the basics of using our course management system.
- Information retrieval skills. You need the ability to use the Illinois online catalog, the Illinois Online Research Resources database, and common bibliographic databases found in many libraries. You should be familiar with finding information on the web using search engines and other common tools.
In addition, certain skills may be expected to be acquired during your time at the iSchool:
- HTML/XML authoring. Workshops will teach basic HTML and XML syntax for creating documents and putting information on the Web.
- Basic Linux (Unix). Servers running the Linux operating system can be accessed through the School's local area network. These servers provide a wider range of software applications beyond those ordinarily available on the lab workstations. Programs running on the Linux servers can act on the files stored in student home directories. Some (not all) iSchool classes will require you to use the Linux servers, and familiarity with Linux/Unix commands will be valuable whether or not you enroll in such a class.
- Database creation. Students may be expected to design simple databases in several iSchool courses.
- Information literacy in LIS. You will become familiar with key information sources within the discipline of LIS, including journal indexes, full-text databases, online repositories, and major websites.
Some individual courses require additional technical competencies such as more advanced database design and programming languages. These skills can be learned through community college courses, informal short courses offered by staff and professional organizations, and through self-study.
During your time at the School, you will have access to many technology resources, including the Help Desk. We encourage you to share your feedback and questions with us and do hope you take advantage of the support we offer. Please feel free to contact us with questions by emailing help [at] support.lis.illinois.edu.