WISE Up!: The Lowdown on Taking Classes Outside SJSU
Published: May 20, 2021 by Leslie Parry
Students at the San José State University School of Information have a unique opportunity to take classes at other ALA-accredited institutions through WISE (Web-based Information Science Education), The WISE consortium is made up of twelve colleges and universities, who offer remote, for-credit classes to students of member schools. Want to take Social Justice in Youth Literature at the University of Illinois? Games in Libraries at Queens College? iSchool students who have met the prerequisites can enroll in a WISE class by completing the Course Request Application form and registering for INFO 298. I spoke with Debbie Faires, Director of Online Learning, about the benefits of this notable program.
Take advantage of an expanded curriculum. With access to such a diverse array of classes, students have the chance to explore new fields or dig deeper into their particular areas of interest. As Faires explains, “WISE courses offer the opportunity to study topics not covered in our SJSU curriculum. For example, there is a class on Theological Librarianship from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign that several of our students have taken through the years.” Other recent courses have included Museum Collection Development, Music Librarianship and Bibliography, and Information Analytics. “Review the list of courses each semester and see if there is an offering that particularly resonates with your interests and plans,” Faires says.
Build a broader network. Beyond tackling the subject matter, students can build their skillsets by working with new tools, formats and people. “Since the classes are offered through other universities, they provide opportunities to network with students and faculty from other LIS programs,” says Faires. “This provides for a broader experience both in terms of the technology used for the class and also the variety in administrative and teaching practices.”
Maintain your regular tuition. There are no separate fees for WISE students. One of the benefits, Faires says, is cost-efficiency. “Students pay SJSU tuition for classes that would otherwise cost higher fees if taken directly from the other universities.”
What to expect from a WISE course
A comparable workload. “Most classes match the SJSU expectations in terms of time and workload,” says Faires. “A few of the WISE courses require synchronous sessions so it is always important to read the information provided about course details and format.” Students enrolling in a WISE course should register for the correlating number of credits of INFO 298. A maximum of six units can be applied to your degree.
A credit/no-credit grade. Because WISE courses are offered through INFO 298 (Special Projects), students will receive a final grade of either credit or no credit ”even though a letter grade is earned at the host university,” says Faires. “For example, an SJSU student might earn a B+ in a WISE course from another school. The final grade recorded on their SJSU transcript would be CR (credit). CR is assigned for grades from A to C; C- or below would result in a grade of NC.”
Competitive enrollment. WISE classes fill up quickly, so have a backup plan just in case. As Faires explains, “There are a limited number of seats available and there are students at several different universities who apply. I always advise students to have another plan in place for the semester in case they do not end up getting a spot in a WISE course.”
What to consider before you enroll
Be prepared for a new learning environment. Integrating a WISE class into your studies may require a bit more planning and attention to detail. “Students should consider how adaptable they are in working with a different university’s processes and calendar,” says Faires. “Policies, grading practices, and instruction norms will probably vary from those at SJSU. Start and end dates for classes will be different than those listed in the SJSU calendar.”
Be ready to identify competencies independently. “There will be no list of which SJSU competencies the WISE courses address,” Faires advises. “It is up to each student to consider which competencies the assignments they complete might best support.” So make sure you’re prepared to evaluate the material accordingly.
Be a good Spartan! “Finally, students should recognize that they will be representing SJSU in their work with another university,” says Faires. “They need to be responsible and professional in their interactions and classwork.”
Need more information?
Read about the WISE prerequisites and registration process on SJSU’s WISE information page.
Explore the program and consortium on the WISE website.
Be aware there isn’t a regular WISE course rotation, so check back for each semester’s offerings at the bottom of the WISE information page or the current class schedules. “Each semester, the universities in the consortium select some courses to offer to WISE,” Faires explains. “We never know what will be offered by the other universities until the lists come together shortly before the registration period opens.” Classes for Fall 2021 will likely be posted in late May or early June.
When Faires retires at the end of May, Alison Johnson will come onboard as the SJSU WISE coordinator. Congratulations, Debbie and Alison! The iSchool is lucky to have you.