INFO 284-13
Oral History (2-Units)
Summer 2022 Syllabus

Juliana Nykolaiszyn
Office location: Virtual
Office Hours: Online, by appointment

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Canvas Information: This 2-unit course runs from June 6th to August 5th. The class will be available on Canvas on June 6th at 6 am PT. 

You will be enrolled in the Canvas site automatically.

Course Description

Everyone has a story, and oral history methodology provides an essential framework for recording past events and ways of life to help inform and fill gaps in the historical record. This course will examine oral history from the standpoint of creator and curator. As creators, students will learn about the ins and outs of oral history methodology, such as question development, research, equipment, and recording interviews. As curators, we will take a deep dive into oral history preservation, access, and collections management.

Course Requirements

Assignments / Grading

Students will participate in a mix of activities that will provide added context into the practice of oral history, and will be evaluated based on the following:

  • Weekly discussion board posts – 32 points (8 discussions, 4 points each) (CLOs 1-4)
  • Listening exercise – 12 points (CLO 1)
  • Mock interview/transcription exercise – 12 points (CLOs 1, 4, 5)
  • Oral History media review – 12 points (CLOs 2, 3, 4)
  • Group project topic selection, presentation, and reflection – 32 points (CLOs 1-5)

Assignment Details / Deadlines

Assignment details and a list of required readings can be found in Canvas. Please submit assignments by 11:59 pm Pacific Time on the due date. Please communicate with me if you are in a documented personal health or family crisis that might impact your work.

Week Topic Assignments / Due Dates
Week 1 (6/6-6/12) Introduction to Oral History Discussion board post, due 6/9 & 6/12
Week 2 (6/13-6/19 Oral History How To - Equipment, Question Guides, & Interviewing Discussion board post, due 6/16 & 6/19 ; Listening exercise, due 6/19
Week 3 (6/20-6/26) Oral History How To - Processing & Preservation Discussion board post, due 6/23 & 6/26 ; Mock interview / transcription exercise, due 6/26
Week 4 (6/27-7/3) Ethics of Oral History Discussion board post, due 6/30 & 7/3
Week 5 (7/5-7/10) Oral History How To - Access & Discovery Discussion board post, due 7/7 & 7/10 ; Group project topic selection, due 7/10
Week 6 (7/11-7/17) Creative Uses of Oral History Discussion board post, due 7/14 & 7/17 ; Oral history media review, due 7/17
Week 7 (7/18-7/24) Oral History in Your Community Discussion board post, due 7/21 & 7/24
Week 8 (7/25-7/31) Librarianship & Oral History Discussion board post, due 7/28 & 7/31 ; Group presentations, due 7/31
Week 9 (8/1-8/5) Bringing It All Together Group project reflection, due 8/5

*Subject to change with fair notice

Course Workload Expectations

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 Prerequisites

INFO 284 has no prequisite requirements.

Course Learning Outcomes

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

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of oral history and its practice.
  2. Identify the legal and ethical issues involved in recording a person's memories and making them available to researchers and the general public.
  3. Discuss current oral history processing and preservation practices.
  4. Evaluate methods of access/discovery to oral histories.
  5. Plan and implement an oral history project.

Core Competencies (Program Learning Outcomes)

INFO 284 supports the following core competencies:

  1. F Use the basic concepts and principles related to the selection, evaluation, organization, and preservation of physical and digital information items.
  2. H Demonstrate proficiency in identifying, using, and evaluating current and emerging information and communication technologies.


Required Textbooks:

  • MacKay, N. (2016). Curating oral histories: From interview to archive (2nd ed.). Left Coast Press/ Routledge. Available as free eBook through King Libraryarrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain
  • Ritchie, D. A. (2015). Doing oral history (3rd ed.) . Oxford University Press. Available as free eBook through King Libraryarrow gif indicating link outside sjsu domain

Grading Scale

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

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


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, university-wide policy information relevant to all courses, such as academic integrity, accommodations, etc. will be available on Office of Graduate and Undergraduate Programs' Syllabus Information web page at: Make sure to visit this page, review and be familiar with these university policies and resources.

In order to request an accommodation in a class please contact the Accessible Education Center and register via the MyAEC portal.

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