June 19, 2009
Choosing Your First-Semester Courses
As promised, here's a little ditty about choosing classes for your first semester. I'm dedicating it to all our incoming students out there. You know who you are...
Registration for new students won't happen until late July, I believe, so this is something to chew on until that time comes.
Full time students normally take 4 full courses for a total of 12 credits. Some SI courses are 1.5 credits and last 7 weeks instead of the full semester. Most of those classes have at least one other 1.5 credit class that matches it (often in time and location). Since all students are required to complete 48 credits of coursework and a full-time summer PEP internship can account for 6 of those credits, some students take fewer courses either their first semester (to ease in to grad school) or their last year/semester (to focus on finding a job. I personally recommend waiting for your second year in case a full-time, for-credit internship isn't an option.
Your first fall semester is when you will get your "foundation" courses out of the way. This includes SI-500 (Information in Social Systems: Collections, Flows, and Processing) and SI-501 (Contextual Inquiry and Project Management). These courses are required for every SI student, and lay the groundwork for a lot of the work you will do in other courses. Of course, they're also prerequisites for a lot of other classes, so taking them in year 2 isn't really an option.
SI-500 is a basic information theory course. Each section of the course reviews key readings in information science the explore the discipline from different perspectives, from cognitive science to economics. SI-501 is a project-based course, in which teams of students work with an outside client to review information flow and help them improve their communication and information storage processes. Neato.
For part-time students, these are the two classes you should take your first fall. Full-time students will have two more slots to fill.
The third foundation course is SI-502: Networked Computing: Storage, Communication, and Processing. This class introduces the basic technological concepts that will allow you to chitter-chat with other information professionals about key issues in the industry, like digital rights management or net neutrality; understand why your computer is running slow or why the Netflix challenge had a $1 million prize; or just enjoy an issue of Wired magazine. For those of you out there with a significant tech background, you can test out of this course later in the summer and in the early part of the semester. The test will be posted on CTools.
Anyhow, for people taking four classes, you have two spots taken up by the core foundations, and 1-2 slots left. SI-502 is offered in both Fall AND Winter, so you can wait until Winter if you have two courses you need to take care of your first semester. This is recommended for students strongly considering a dual specialization. Conversely, those interested in a lot of tech courses might want to squeeze it in, as it's a prerequisite for classes like SI-539 (Design of Complex Websites).
In general, most classes are offered in EITHER Fall or Winter (course schedules from past semesters are available on the http://www.si.umich.edu/courses/ page), so while I don't recommend getting TOO panicked about getting all your courses in, do be aware of when the classes you're eyeballing will be offered next.
So, depending on whether or not you test out of SI-502 (or decide to put it off until Winter semester), you'll have 1-2 more courses to select. Based on your interests and goals, this is a good time to take 1 or 2 courses in your specialization and a specialization that interests you.
Based on the advice of faculty and former students, I've put together this list of recommended first-semester courses (full course descriptions can be found on the SI website):
LIS: SI-647 (Information Resources and Services).
SLM: SI-624 (Media for Children and Young Adults). I took this-great course if you're at all interested in any sort of youth services work. However, SLM requirements are a big strict, so specialists should chat with another SLM student or their advisor when choosing courses.
PI: SI-581 (Preserving Information). This is a 1.5-credit course, so you can match it up with another 1.5 credit preservation course.
ARM: SI-580 (Understanding Records and Archives: Principles and Practices).
CI: SI-575 (Community Information Corps Seminar). This is a 1.5 credit course with no matching course. I also highly recommend SI-645 (Information Use in Communities) as it is currently not scheduled for 2010, and is really useful for anyone interested in community non-profits or outreach work.
IAR: SI-508 (Networks: Theory and Application) or SI-531 (Human Interaction in Information Retrieval).
HCI: In addition to SI-508 and SI-531, SI-539 (Design of Complex Web Sites), SI-658 (Information Architecture) and (for the brave who fear no wealth of group projects) SI-682 (Interface and Interaction Design).
SC: SI-508 and SI-539.
ICD: SI-562 (Microeconomics for Information Professionals) and SI-563 (Game Theory). Both are 1.5-credit classes, so you can take them together.
IPol: SI-508, again, and SI-539, too.
Tailored students: As a tailored student, you are combining classes from different areas of SI, so research the different areas and see which intro classes may help you most.
If you have any other questions, chat sessions with current students and staff will be held throughout the summer, with sessions covering course recommendations and registration. You can also email me or any other contact you have at SI, or log in for one of the open chats and see if anyone has any suggestions. Happy hunting!
Posted by messelti at June 19, 2009 08:09 PM