Exploring iSchool Career Pathways—Emerging Technologies: Issues and Trends

Published: Wednesday, September 09, 2015 by Allison Randall Gatt

Do you love being part of an ever-changing world of social media, bridging the digital divide, and connecting people and communities with new and evolving ways of accessing information? Not only do you sound like an information professional, but you sound like one who would really enjoy the classes offered in the iSchool’s Emerging Technologies: Issues and Trends career pathway.

The Best Skills for Today’s Jobs
Dr. Michael Stephens, the iSchool professor who leads this dynamic career path, characterizes the person who follows Emerging Technologies as one who has a “knowledge of emerging trends, an understanding of the changing and fluid nature of various technologies, and a ‘can do’ attitude.”

Ooh, time for a personal attitude check—is mine a “can-do” one? The word “technology” has always seemed a bit daunting, but “trends” is something I can hang with. Thanks to the iSchool pushing me gently into the shallow end of the technology pool, however, I can navigate my way through my classes, social media and now this blog with relative ease. I think really that I’m just overwhelmed by what’s out there, but a few courses outside of my comfort zone (like INFO 246: Fundamentals of Programming, versus the materials classes that are high on collaboration and discovery but low on technology) may extend my skills as well as increase my confidence levels. After all, you can’t escape the evolution of technology, especially as an information professional.

If you choose to follow the Emerging Technologies path, you’re already off to a good start with your core courses. INFO 200: Information Communities for example, gives you a solid foundation for getting acquainted with the communities you’ll serve and the tools you’ll use in an ever-evolving world of technology and information. Although all classes and pathways at the iSchool will incorporate new technologies as well as service skills, Emerging Technologies students will be looking at careers in digital literacy, education technology, online instructional design, and many other fields of technical librarianship.

“Students need to develop important, in-demand skills for the information workplace,” stresses Stephens. The need for skills in emerging technologies and the ability to integrate these skills into services for the community cuts across all environments—corporate information centers, institutions for higher education public, and private and school libraries museums to name a few.

Putting Those Courses to Work
Current and former students at the iSchool who have taken on technology and mixed it with great service skills and the needs of their community include alumna Tina Jagerson, who follows trends in technology to gauge the future of the information profession. She has even shared her enthusiasm and experience at the Library 2.015 Spring Summit.

“I believe the Emerging Technologies pathway gave me the tools to be a valuable asset in any type of information management arena,” says Jagerson, “and having a diverse technical background was important to me.”

While at the iSchool Jagerson gathered on-the-job skills for the workplace in the courses she took. “I learned how to use social media in INFO 282 for more than just keeping up with friends,” she says. “It has many useful applications for business analytics using the data its users generate, which I discovered in INFO 246: Big Data Analytics and Management with Dr. Chen. In that class I learned how to mine data and then use technology applications to convert that raw data into meaningful information for interpreting and managing projects, products, people, and more.”

A Focus on the User Experience
The Emerging Technologies career pathway is closely aligned with the Digital Services career pathway, which also focuses on keeping current with technology and connecting to the community. While Emerging Technologies focuses on the user experience and how it’s affected by future technology developments, Digital Services examines the technical usability aspects of building digital platforms for users. The Web Programming and Information Architecture pathway is similar in the examination of technology, usability and accessibility, so students can mix classes from these different career pathways to really customize their degree. All MLIS students, regardless of the pathway chosen, receive the same Masters of Library and Information Science degree.

Like many other students, I’m looking around at the technology I already use and am wondering how I might add to my skills, get acquainted with new tech trends, and begin to apply my skills and knowledge to the workplace and greater community. “I definitely feel more confident and empowered because of the classes I took and the topics I chose to focus on,” says Jagerson with a smile. “That’s definitely a good feeling.”

Related Content:
Exploring iSchool Career Pathways—Web Programming and Information Architecture

A Closer Look at MLIS Program Core Courses: What to Expect in INFO 200—Information Communities

Exploring iSchool Career Pathways—Information Intermediation

image courtesy of ddpavumbae

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