Collaborative IR course at RuSSIR 2011

I had a fun time teaching a short course on Collaborative IR at the Russian Summer School of IR (RuSSIR) held at St Petersburg, Russia this year. I will share my experience in other posts, but for now, here’s a short description of the school.

The mission of the school is to teach students about modern problems and methods in Information Retrieval and Database Technology; to stimulate scientific research and collaboration in these fields; and to create environment for informal contacts between scientists, students and industry professionals.

The target audience of the school is advanced graduate and PhD students, post-doctoral researchers, academic and industrial researchers, and developers. RuSSIR/EDBT 2011 School will offer up to seven courses (in parallel sessions) and host approximately 150 participants. The working language of the school is English.

And here’s the description about the course that I taught:

The course will introduce the student to theories, methodologies, and tools that focus on IR in collaboration. The student will have an opportunity to learn about the social aspect of IR with a focus on collaborative IR situations, systems, and evaluation techniques.

Traditionally, IR is considered an individual pursuit, and not surprisingly, the majority of tools, techniques, and models developed for addressing information need, retrieval, and usage have focused on single users. The assumption of information seekers being independent and IR problem being individual has been challenged often in the recent past. This course will introduce such works to the students, with an emphasis on understanding models and systems that support collaborative search or browsing.

Specifically, the course will (1) outline the research and latest developments in the field of collaborative IR, (2) list the challenges for designing and evaluating collaborative IR systems, and (3) show how traditional single user IR models and systems could be mapped to those for collaborative IR. This will be achieved through introduction to appropriate literature, algorithms and interfaces that facilitate collaborative IR, and methodologies for studying and evaluating them. Thus, the course will offer a balance between theoretical and practical elements of collaborative IR.