INF 4010: Introduction to Informatics

Credits: 3

Prerequisite(s): None

Rationale for inclusion in curriculum

We live in a world where most social activities are affected by, or require knowledge of, information technologies. This course introduces students to the discipline of informatics—how information technologies are developed, applied, and utilized in society. The course examines the most important issues at the intersection of information technology and society including the economy, health and medicine, business and finance, politics, and the natural environment. The course introduces students to issues of mis- or weak-information, information ethics, and information policy. In this course, students will learn and discuss the basic concepts of Informatics including concepts such as Data, Information, Knowledge, and Uncertainty. Distinct aspects of web technology, interface design, programming and application design, and data science may be emphasized in certain sections, including exercises on parsing, managing, analyzing, and archiving data. The course offers both technical knowledge as well as theoretical knowledge to allow the student to understand the impact of technologies in various social contexts. The course is intended for students of the Informatics Minor as well as the general student population.

Learning outcomes

By the end of this course students will be able to:

  1. Distinguish among the major components of computers, the Internet, and databases.
  2. Describe distinct domains where information technologies are applied.
  3. Discuss differences and similarities across informatics domains
  4. Evaluate quality of information based on aspects of science and reasoning.
  5. Extract and analyze online datasets with basic statistical techniques.
  6. Operate programs or language for data analysis, such as Python.
  7. Articulate distinct issues related to information technology in organizations.
  8. Explain how information technology impacts health, the environment, and politics.
  9. Explore the impact of data, (mis)information, and technology on society.

Topics include (i.e. selective topics)

  • Computer hardware and software
  • Computer programming and application development
  • Databases and search engines
  • Data science applications and data mining
  • Gender and race issues on the Internet
  • Health and bioinformatics
  • Information ethics
  • Information policy
  • Information systems for business
  • Internet and the web
  • Politics and misinformation campaigns
  • Public health and environmental informatics
  • Science and analytical reasoning
  • Social media and identity management

Course methodology

Video presentations, readings, quizzes, discussions, writing, and data related exercises.

Basis for evaluation of student performance

Evaluation may consist of the following:

  • Assignments (papers, exercises)
  • Examinations (quizzes)
  • Presentations
  • Participation/discussion

Text and/or readings

Book chapters, journal articles, news articles, interviews, reports, tutorials, manuals.

Approved: 3/21