Exploring iSchool Career Pathways—Web Programming and Information Architecture

Published: Wednesday, April 01, 2015 by Allison Randall Gatt

If you’re fluent in a variety of computer languages—or more importantly, if you’d like to be—then the iSchool’s Web Programming and Information Architecture career pathway may be a good choice for you. Or you may just want to sample a few classes from this pathway to round out your resume.

Building confidence
In LIBR 240 Information Technology Tools and Applications instructor Raymond Dean has students learn how to create a website using a variety of technologies, including HTML and CSS. “We learn by actually coding and creating a website,” says Dean. “By the first week, students are already creating HTML code and even typing commands into a terminal.”

This sounds daunting to me, having never been much of a “techie.” But in a class environment with instructors who are knowledgeable in the concepts and experienced with hesitant students like me, I wonder if the iSchool is exactly the right place to take a web programming class. I feel like my resume as an information professional wouldn’t be complete without knowing at least a little bit of computer and web programming.

Dean stresses students’ confidence and understanding of technology, rather than just a few skills. He doesn’t believe people are “born techies.” Technology is a learned skill. “When students realize they too can be a ‘techie,’,” he says, “they have the confidence to take on any new technology that comes their way.”

In Dean’s Drupal section of LIBR 246 Information Technology Tools and Applications (Advanced), students learn to build a website with the Drupal content management system using their own domain name—which is pretty cool, considering major organizations like the iSchool and even the White House use Drupal. (Note that LIBR 246 has multiple topics, including Big Data Analytics and Management, Web 2.0, Fundamentals of Programming and a variety of computer language sections.)

Building career skills
Careers that focus on web programming include being librarians in a variety of tech environments as well as Web 2.0 developers and web designers. The iSchool website emphasizes that “sometimes the whole job will focus on technology; sometimes part of the job will consist of designing, building and maintaining web content.”

Similar to the Information Organization career pathway, students taking classes in the Web Programming career pathway will learn about taxonomies, usability, accessibility and evaluation. If you’re going to build websites, you will, of course, need to know how they are used. In Dean’s words, “Every website is essentially a digital library. Site visitors need a way to search for and easily find information. It needs to be organized logically and based upon sound principles.”

I’m a web user (it’s hard not to be in this day and age), and in a few of my courses, I’ve really focused on what it’s like to navigate a website—like trying to buy that elusive last pair of shoes on sale in my size—and how to get the most current and most applicable information I need. So it would follow that I would want to dig deeper into what it means to construct websites and dip my toes into what it means to write and understand computer programs. I’m nervous, sure, but being at the iSchool really is my best chance to learn what web design and programming are about.

If you, too, are hesitant about web programming (and hat’s off to you who are eager to follow this path), I leave you with more of Dean’s great advice: “It’s not really about learning some particular programming language or some other specific technology. It’s about learning how to learn technology. It’s about gaining confidence in your ability to take on any new technology that comes your way. The techniques and technologies continually change. But your aptitude for learning and the confidence in yourself will persist and propel you to greater things. Just learn things. You never know where it will take you.”

Related content:
Exploring iSchool Career Pathways—Information Organization

Exploring iSchool Career Pathways—Information Intermediation

Community Profiles about People Working in Digital Environments

image courtesy of jscreationzs

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