A Closer Look at MLIS Core Courses—INFO 204 Information Professions

iStudent Blog

The MLIS program’s core classes—INFO 200, INFO 202, INFO 204—are all part of building a solid foundation in learning about information professions, information systems and information-seeking behaviors, and information system structure and management. Over the last several weeks, the blog has taken a closer look at all three of the core classes and what makes them so exciting.

If you’re looking for a course to equip you for the working world and prepare you to tackle the leadership challenges facing today’s information professionals, then INFO 204 is the perfect answer. INFO 204, Information Professions, will help you polish your resume, build interview skills and focus your career path. The course also takes the learning a step forward and involves you in cooperative team projects that will look at leadership issues, such as budgeting, strategic planning and creating mission statements for information organizations.

According to Dr. Cheryl Stenstrom, INFO 204 students “will explore resources that will help them plan their careers from the moment they start the MLIS program.” Beginning this year, thanks to a collaborative effort by instructors Stenstrom and Robert Boyd to update the course, INFO 204 will look at a broader range of career pathways for information professionals and analyze the current job market.

Since the redesigning of the MLIS program’s core courses (200, 202, and 204) the material and skills taught in each class will now be better integrated with all the core courses to give new students the ability to use their knowledge more interchangeably as they begin their degree. The new INFO 204 is built on Boyd’s belief that “core classes should ensure students are provided with a good foundation for a career, not just for graduate school.”

Assignments that students can look forward to include essays on scholarly articles, an exploration of the extensive Career Development resources offered by the SJSU information school, and a group project that focuses on organizational analysis.

Yes, that’s right—a group project.

Many people dread group assignments, but as alumna Adriana Buer points out, “chances are very high that when you enter the workforce as an information professional and apply the principles you learn in INFO 204 to a real life situation, you will be working within a group anyway!” With her perspective as a student, Buer was instrumental in helping mold the newly redesigned 204 with Boyd and Stenstrom. As a graduate student assistant, she helped draft and construct learning objectives to this newly remodeled INFO 204.

The class will help students develop communication skills and learn to delegate responsibilities as they work within teams to draft mission statements and outline a strategic development plan for the information organization they have chosen. Teams will then be presented with the opportunity to present their work to their fellow classmates.

When I took INFO 204 from Dr. Carol Sawyer, we created journals about different managerial viewpoints. We also read engaging articles and books about how people best function in the working world, and how teams can effectively negotiate and solve real world problems.

Current student Missy Solis took INFO 204 from Sawyer as well. “This class was a great introduction to organizational management,” says Solis. “I learned about the importance of collaboration and communication. The concepts we discussed in the course were reinforced through collaborative projects, interviews with practicing managers, and reflective writing assignments.”

INFO 204 was both a fun and eye-opening class for me. I got to really explore my strengths , and how I could apply them in all kinds of work situations. Far from being a class about how to fit into an existing mold as an information professional, it taught me how I could use the critical thinking skills and personality traits that I already possess to be the best kind of employee for the right kind of job. Solis, too, felt this way. “I finished the course with a better understanding of how to articulate my own strengths and values, and I gained a better sense of what I am looking for in a workplace.”

Learning activities in INFO 204 will focus on various topics. For example, you’ll explore how to build a budget and generate revenue, and what to do when faced with budget cuts. In the class, students will find examples of institutions that have dealt with these issues.

Another assignment will ask students to look critically at job descriptions from a variety of sources and draft cover letters. Students in the class will share their cover letters and then the class will vote on the top three—a great way to get to know your fellow classmates, as well as receive some positive feedback.

The final class assignment will allow students to reflect on and respond to their experiences in INFO 204, using scholarly references. Then they will present their reflections in the form of a wiki, PowerPoint, Prezi, podcast, or other format.

So get ready for INFO 204, where you’ll explore the world of Information Professions!

What kind of information profession job opportunities are you considering? How do you hope INFO 204 will help you focus on that career pathway?

For related content and more information about SLIS Core Courses, check out:

INFO 200 Information Communities

INFO 202 Information Retrieval System Design

Tips from INFO 203 Peer Mentors: What to Expect in Your First Course


image courtesy of renjith krishnan


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