What to Expect in INFO 203—Your First Class and the Keys to Success at the iSchool

iStudent Blog

Published: July 29, 2015

I took LIBR 203 a while ago, before Canvas and before it was even INFO 203. Feeling sort of behind the times, I asked the iSchool’s Director of Online Learning Debbie Faires about the changes that have been made since my time. Not only did she answer my questions, but she invited me to join the practice class! Wahoo! I get to learn about learning at the iSchool all over again and I can get with the current program.

Clear and Simple Guidelines for Learning Online
The nine learning modules in the Canvas site are set up nice and clear, with simple steps to get you through every detail of the assignments. Each module starts off with an introduction and a checklist to complete in order for you to collect a few skills, turn in an assignment and move on to the next module. And you can’t sneak ahead and skip around—Canvas won’t let you! Take it step by step and it will all build up, making your 203 make perfect and complete sense.

Module #1 starts with an introduction to the Canvas learning management system and how to use its basic features. It will teach you how to respond to discussion posts with YouTube videos and images, show you who the other students in your class are and how to talk with them, and show you how to submit your assignments and see your grades. Since I started with the Canvas interface partway through my grad school coursework, this review of the social media module and class communications helped me pick up some details I was missing. As new students, you’ll get it all from the beginning. Module #1 even tells you all about how to plan for your last class—INFO 289, the eportfolio. Hint: Save everything (back up, back up, back up) and start saving now.

Using Technology to Be a Successful Student
In Module #2, you’ll look at social networking and set up your own blog through the iSchool’s WordPress community site. This is fun during class, and essential knowledge to have for future iSchool coursework. Module #3 goes through the particulars of what’s necessary for your home computing environment and double checks to make sure you know how to use it. Don’t worry, each step of the module tells you exactly how to do it, so you don’t need tech super-skills. And make sure that as you’re going through the software requirements, you take note of the fact that the iSchool offers free (yes, that’s right—free) software to students.

In the introduction to this module, the iSchool wants to make sure that you are willing and able to continue to learn new technology: “Students need to approach the task of learning new technology with courage and openness to learn by trial and error; the way most people learn new skills is by diving in and exploring, and by learning from their mistakes.” I am not a “techie,” nor in any way fluent in any programming language, social networking app or content management system. But I know that I need to be able to learn new technology, be willing to take it for a test run and feel comfortable, and have the courage to try it out. This is a mindset that is essential for success both at the iSchool and in the working world. The good news is that INFO 203 is the perfect place to get started.

And while you’re in Module #3, be sure to collect the passwords for the INFO 203 meetups here. Faires stresses the importance of these meetup sessions presented by peer mentors. “Topics are selected with new student interests in mind,” she says.

Essential Resources Explained
In other modules, you’ll cover how to use the web conferencing tool Collaborate, the wealth of help and resources of the SJSU King Library, and the low-down, nitty-gritty of the school’s plagiarism policy. (In short: Don’t do it at all, ever. But do listen to this presentation carefully.)

Module #5 will give you resources from SJSU and other institutions about online learning, and great tips and ground rules for successful teamwork (you’ll need to work with a group in just about every class). Another awesome part of this module is the bulleted, bold typeface list entitled “Strategies for Success.” Even as a current student halfway through my program, these are great reminders of how to make it all happen: discussion entries, weekly readings, research and assignments. Organizing your workspace on your computer and managing your time are essential skills in the iSchool program. There are some great quotes from previous students included here as well.

The last two modules (and then you’re done!) cover APA style and the always important MySJSU portal. The APA module will give you the link to resources provided on the iSchool website, as well as have you read a few chapters from the APA Manual (sixth edition). Yes, you will be tested on this material. APA is not the most enjoyable aspect of grad school education, but let me tell you that when you start doing it and doing it right, it is so helpful when you need to research information based on a correctly formatted bibliographic entry.

MySJSU is the site where you will take care of the business end of grad school: enrollment, registering for classes (as well as paying for them), applying for scholarships, looking at your transcript and getting important messages. This module stresses the importance of keeping your email address current and getting to know the MySJSU site early (now) in your studies.

A Wealth of Resources and Encouragement
What a trip—both nostalgic and informative! I enjoyed running through this material, even though I’m already halfway through my studies. New students have until September 17, 2015 (within the first four weeks of the semester) to complete the course. INFO 203 classes will be available on Canvas on August 3, 2015. INFO 203 is a wealth of resources and encouragement and sets the stage for a successful and informed graduate school career online.


Related Content:
Survive, Thrive and Feel Alive as You Learn Online at the iSchool

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

Online Learning—How Do I Talk to People?

Life + Work + School—How Can I Get it All Done?

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles


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