IMT: The First Week
IMT, before I confuse people too much, is the UW’s course designation for courses in the Master of Science in Information Management series. This week (starting last Friday) marked the first week of official activities, with Wednesday marking the start of classes.
The Day MSIM orientation was today, where all of the new Day students got together to get an overview of Information School (and some UW) services. We also did a group activity involving Legos, which was intended to demonstrate how group dynamics can function. An interesting fact – of the slightly more than 30 students in the incoming Day cohort (edit 10/13: 32 total), only 12 of them are actually native to the United States. Some are from places like New Zealand, Japan, and India. I’ve also been assigned a faculty advisor: Robert Mason, the Associate Dean for Research at the School. We’ve been encouraged to wait a bit before contacting them, as they’ve only just gotten our information and each one has a slightly different advising style.
The all-iSchool orientation and services fair was today. A big hearty welcome from the Dean, Harry Bruce – who encourages us all to whisper in everyone’s ear “my school is the iSchool” – and introductions of key staff and faculty members, some of which I’ve known due to my SharePoint work over the summer. Orientation was followed by the services fair, which ended up being so crowded that I just grabbed a few fliers from some of the student groups and left, since there was no way that I could get much else done.
There was a fascinating lecture on Tuesday by Angeline Djampou, the Chief Legal Librarian with the International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda, who talked extensively on preserving the memory of the Rwandan genocides and the consequences of it (both for the victims and those accused). Most interesting here is that they essentially ended up starting from scratch when trying to figure out how to prosecute these cases – they use a hybrid of the French and British judicial systems, which is very hard to comprehend compared to the legal system in the United States. Dad was there, and he made that comment afterwards, and also pointed out that most people probably weren’t aware of the differences (I confess, I’m only minimally aware of them).
Angeline also talked about setting up libraries in Rwanda to help preserve the ICTR’s documents and decisions. This is truly a very impressive effort, particularly when you consider that it was the first international criminal tribunal of its kind (followed fairly soon by the International Criminal Tribunal for Yugoslavia).
IMT500 – Wednesday/Thursday
The first class we take in the MSIM program is IMT500, The Information Management Framework, which is essentially a whirlwind introduction to the topics covered throughout the program. The first day – Wednesday – we talked fairly extensively about what information management encompasses and what sorts of information we often deal with and how collaboration forms those systems. I gave a brief presentation on SharePoint which was an introduction to the final assignment for the class – creating an information system and observing how that system is built, what the process within the group creating the system is, and what sorts of interactions occur for that system to emerge.
Thursday we had presentations from faculty members Hazel Taylor, who talked about the management of information organizations and the different types of knowledge that we employ, and Cheryl Metoyer, who gave a brief overview of the topics we’re covering in IMT510 and handed out the class syllabus.
Mike Crandall, the instructor for IMT500 and also chair of the MSIM program, made a couple very important points on Thursday: first, almost nobody comes into the program really knowing what it is. He also explained that this program is not actually a technology program, though it has technology in it. The MSIM program focuses more on how to utilize technology as a part of the bigger picture and on utilizing it to be effective in our usage of information. Graduates of the program are expected to understand, amongst other things, XML, databases, how to build information systems, and how to translate the structure of information (or maybe more accurately, the structural aspects of information) into human-readable presentation forms. This is an insanely flexible program – while you do take core courses, the electives can come from any interest area you might have. Thus, people interested in the technology side can take courses to accent that; those interested in business, or certain aspects of business management, can take courses from other schools in that subject; and those interested in other subsets of information management can focus in those areas independently.
My planning will likely fairly closely involve my advisor, but I fully intend to take advantage of courses outside of the IMT series.
IMT501 – Wednesday
This was essentially an orientation session for an online course to make sure that everyone was starting off on the same page. Future lab times on this course will be optional. This is probably going to be the most complicated course in terms of keeping track of what needs to be done, since it’s primarily delivered in an online format. The content is stuff that I, for the most part already know (which has some people baffled as to why I’m bothering instead of taking, say, IMT 542). I’ve done review in the past (taking Computers and Human Reason one summer quarter during my work at Evergreen), and firmly believe that the opportunity to review can really solidify and change my understanding of what computers are and what they can accomplish. The instructor for this course is encouraging all of us to push ourselves to learn what we need to learn, which means that students like me who know quite a bit of it already have no excuse to slack off. Of course, I wouldn’t slack off regardless – this is graduate-level work.
I admit to dreading next week somewhat, since IMT510 and 540 both start then. 500, since it’s only a four-day introduction to the curricula, doesn’t have that much “oomph” behind it, which isn’t to say that you don’t learn anything. Depending on credit load, my real challenge may not be until next quarter depending on how many classes I have to take to meet the 10-credit minimum. I’ve been considering options, and it’s possible that I might end up trying to take some classes from the Technical Communication program. Next quarter, though, I might be eying INFO 498 – Programming Semantic Structures, offered by Terry Brooks (no, not the author), as an elective.