If there’s one glaring thing missing from my work at the UW, it’s the evaluative process that I had gotten so used to in my undergraduate work at Evergreen. The lack of that structure makes it fairly easy to forget to look back – hence why this post comes as late as it does when the quarter ended on the 10th.
This quarter, there were four different classes on my schedule – IMT 500, IMT 501, IMT 510, and IMT 540. I’ll break each class down into a separate section, then try to combine them.
IMT 500 – The Information Management Framework: Since this was an overview course that lasted only the first few days of the quarter, there’s not as much to say here as there might be otherwise. The major thing that happened for me in this course was the opportunity to give a presentation on SharePoint 2007 as part of an introduction to the course’s final project. This 30 minute presentation was a general overview of the functionality provided by SharePoint, which I thought went extremely well. The final paper in the class, which was an assignment designed around seeing how information moves through its lifecycle, allowed me to reflect a bit on how being an “expert user” of SharePoint (at least compared to the rest of the class) influenced my actions while working on the group project.
IMT 510 – Human Aspects of Information Systems: Of all the classes this quarter, this one drew the most from the approaches and ideas from the library sciences. This class focused primarily on some of the psychological and social aspects of how information is used. One of the most interesting things in this class was the idea of designing interview schedules and how one has to be careful about wording of questions, particularly as it pertains to questions that may be asked of people from different cultural background. The class also focused a bit on the idea of information grounds – spaces where information is generated and communicated within a group. I did fairly well in this class, though such a large chunk of the work was group-related that it was occasionally hard to assess my own progress in understanding the material. My strongest point in this class was collaborating with two other team members to write up the final project report – the end result was so seamless that it was nearly impossible to tell who wrote what.
IMT 540 – Design Methods for Interaction and Systems: This was both the hardest class this quarter and probably the most rewarding. Focusing on design methods for systems, this class covered everything from brainstorming methodology to usability testing to prototype creation (creating a physical system was outside of the scope of the class). The group project consisted of designing a mobile system that would be in use in 2020, which meant that the class as a whole had to take a long-term view of what the future might end up looking like for mobile interaction. My group focused on malls and what shopping might look like in the future, envisioning a system that was a cross between a social application like Facebook, Google Maps, a GPS, and a search engine. The biggest challenge in the class was the sheer amount of reading required to understand a lot of the concepts, though I appreciated greatly the ability to turn around and put some of those concepts to use, either in our groups or as part of smaller assignments.
General Thoughts: I distinctly remember talking to a former co-worker who went on to become part of the iSchool’s Master of Library and Information Science program – he observed that graduate school really wasn’t that much harder than his undergraduate work at Evergreen. I have to agree with this assessment, though I think I took enough ass-kicking classes during my undergraduate career that I knew what was expected of me. Others who graduate Evergreen and who didn’t take a strong set of programs with faculty who were willing to dump loads of work in their student’s laps might not be quite as well off, but this did make my transition relatively easy (even after an entire year off from being a student). A lot of this also has to do with the type of program and the fact that the MSIM program and the MLIS program share some of the same ideas and some of the same faculty members. Regardless, I think I had an extremely successful quarter (with a final quarter GPA of 3.75, which is quite a bit above the goal of 3.5 I had set for myself).
A big part of next quarter will be my exposure to the ideas of environmental economics in PB AF 594, which I’m looking forward to, since I think it will serve to advance my work in sustainability quite well. INFO 498 will also be quite interesting, since it will give me a chance to touch base once again with my computer science background and get into some programming. I’m not sure on IMT 530 and IMT580 – I’ve ordered all my textbooks for all four classes, so hopefully that’ll give me some hints on what’s going on with each of them. I’ll update more as I get more information about each class.