Highlights from the Latest New Student Orientation

iStudent Blog

Published: January 22, 2015

On January 12, 2015, the iSchool held its online orientation for those who start this semester.

If you missed it, the recording is here. The orientation featured staff, faculty, and current students who talked about the iSchool and the various degrees offered as well as advice on how to get started, connect, and enjoy the time spent studying at SJSU’s School of Information. Presenters highlighted many of the useful resources available to new students, especially those that help students plan their coursework and career goals It’s never too early to start!

Curriculum News and Resources
School of Information Director Dr. Sandra Hirsh welcomed students and talked about the flexibility of her own MLIS degree. She was excited to share that the iSchool community of faculty and staff hail from 48 states and 17 countries, making it a wonderfully rich global community.

Dr. Hirsh pointed out several aspects of the school’s flexible curriculum, including “unbundled” one-unit courses that allow students to be exposed to a wider variety of topics, and intensive format classes that allow students to complete full three-unit courses on a compressed schedule. She also mentioned a few interesting new courses in the curriculum, including Gamifying Information, Digital Curation, Human Resources Management, Information Privacy, Cybersecurity, and Big Data and Information Visualization.

“Your culminating project as a student is your e-portfolio,” said Dr. Hirsh. “This is when students at the iSchool will combine their experiences to demonstrate their understanding, adoption, and evidence of the 15 essential core competencies.”

As a brand new student (or even one who’s been at it for a little while) you may not be focusing on your final class yet, but thinking now about your e-portfolio will help you plan your future classes and organize class assignments as you go through your grad school coursework.

Your graduate school experience is so much more than your classes, Dr. Hirsh reminded students. “Do an internship, try some new things, have fun, and build your peer and professional network,” she suggested.

Associate Director Dr. Linda Main encouraged new students to be proactive in their education, to email staff and faculty with questions, and to stay current with what’s going on. Dr. Main’s blog, the SJSU iSchool Curriculum Blog, is a great way to find out about important deadlines and registration dates. It’s a great place to ask questions because it’s likely that others have the same or similar questions.

Online Learning Tips and Resources
Debbie Faires, the school’s director of online learning, offered resources and advice regarding the importance of being well equipped and comfortable with the online learning environment. “Prepare now with good technology,” said Faires, “and enjoy and learn new technologies and learn how to learn new interfaces.”

Faires stressed that your home-computing environment (your computer, software, and connections) be up-to-date so you don’t run into frustrations while trying to go through your coursework. She encouraged an attitude of enjoying and experimenting with technology. Be sure to acquaint yourself with the iSchool website’s technology support tools and resources, including links to deep-discounted software on the technology page. You’ll need to be comfortable with technology, and if you’re not, to find help and tutorials to fill in the gaps in your knowledge.

Student Services Coordinator Vicki Robison was excited to see so many students attending the orientation and encouraged by this show of a proactive attitude of so many new students. She let students know that she and other members of the staff, including online student advisor Sheila Gurtu and faculty academic advisors, are available to answer your questions.

Robison reminded students to sign up for classes by going to the iSchool website first. “When you register for classes, always go to the Class Schedules page on the School’s website before going to MySJSU.” She reminds students to look through classes thoroughly to check which classes have mandatory sessions, which ones are intensives, and who is teaching each course.

Robison expressed her sympathy with the frustration that happens when trying to navigate financial aid forms and departments. While she doesn’t have access to financial aid records and encouraged students to try the financial aid office, she also said that she would be able to point you in the right direction if you have a financial aid question.

Robison also encouraged students to plan ahead by looking at the graduation candidacy form now, filling it in on your computer as you go through the program. It will be some time before you’ll need to turn the form in, but completing the form as you go will really help in mapping out your schedule of courses as well as being a good way to see how much you’ve accomplished.

Canvas Online Advising Site
The orientation then opened up to Sheila Gurtu, the iSchool’s online student advisor, for a mini-tour of the Canvas iSchool Advising Site. While Robison can answer questions about registration deadlines, dropping and withdrawing from classes, refunds, grade changes, holds and graduation applications (to name just a few common topics) Gurtu is available for advising questions about career pathways, research, learning interests, and education goals.

Look for the Advising Site on your Canvas interface; it will be listed with your current courses. Gurtu highlighted the Home page for iSchool Announcements and staff resources, and the Modules page—which features a New Student page at the very top—for an overview of resources and ideas for planning your time and coursework in grad school. The Canvas Advising site also has a Scholarships and Awards page and a dropbox on the Home page.

“Students can also self-enroll in available student organization user groups,” says Gurtu. “You can view group announcements and participate in discussions on the Student Organization Canvas User Groups page. These user groups are accessible by clicking on the People navigation link on the left and then clicking the View User Groups button on the upper right.” So I did, and now I’m following discussions with the school’s ALASC—just like that.

Tips from Current Students
Current student and peer mentor Kate Nicolson-Willard shared a few of her tips for success when attending the iSchool. She stressed the importance of keeping a calendar of assignments for every class as well as using a research journal to keep track of all the articles she finds and uses for her research, including complete notations with DOIs (digital object identifier—for those of you who don’t already know; I didn’t until I got to grad school). This is an idea I will definitely be putting into practice. Another student, Anna Piccolo, felt that completing LIBR 203 early was essential towards giving her the skills and confidence to be a student in an online program.

Related content:
Resources and Information from the iSchool’s Student Services Coordinator

Life + Work + School: How Can I Get it All Done

Tips From Peer Mentors: What to Expect in Your First Course

Get Off to a Successful Start with the New Student Checklist


image courtesy of ddpavumba


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