The WISE Way to Maximize Your iSchool Experience

iStudent Blog

Published: April 20, 2016

Are you interested in such classes as Economics in Information or Library Fundraising but can’t find it at the iSchool? Despite the extensive variety of courses offered by the SJSU School of Information, a student may want to specialize in something like electronic health records or e-government but can’t find precisely what they’re looking for. They need not despair!

The iSchool has a reciprocal relationship with other ALA-accredited LIS institutions providing SJSU iSchool students access to online courses that may otherwise be unavailable. This program, as you may have guessed from the title, is called WISE—Web-based Information Science Education, and the SJSU School of Information is part of this consortium. So you can take classes from participating schools and students from these participating institutions might show up in your class. How cool is that?

Benefits of taking part in WISE courses include the ability to focus on a particular area of information science, like medical records and resources. One iSchool WISE student, for example, benefited from access to another university’s large medical library databases through a Health Science Information Sources and Services course. Universities that open up courses to iSchool students and with whom we reciprocate the arrangement for this coming fall semester include the University of North Texas, Rutgers University, Syracuse University, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Illinois, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

As a WISE student, one is also exposed to the viewpoints and experiences of even more instructors, peers, and classmates. This is true of both students and instructors. School of Information instructor Laurie Putnam, who teaches Info 281: Publishing for the Profession, a course which teaches students to write and submit professional articles about libraries and information science, taught a few visiting students from the University of Pittsburg one semester.

“What struck me more than the unique perspectives they brought,” says Putnam, “was how much we all had in common. Our program at SJSU is already extremely diverse—because our courses are all online, within our own iSchool we have students from all over the world, with all kinds of interests in different aspects of libraries and the information professions. So WISE students fit right in.”

We can only assume then, that if you take a WISE course somewhere else that you too will fit right in. The Publishing for the Profession course also inspired the creation of the LIS Publications Wiki, which is a great resource for anyone who is interested in writing and publication in the field, myself included.

If you’re interested in expanding your coursework beyond what the iSchool offers, take a look at the WISE courses being offered for Fall 2016 and get together your application to apply, because the due date is April 24. Space is limited and simply applying is no guarantee that you’ll get in. The process is simple, in that you simply sign up and pay for the class just like you do with iSchool courses at SJSU.

In order to participate, you are required to be in good academic standing (not, ahem, on probation) and have completed your core courses—200, 202 and 204 for MLIS students and 200, 204 and 210 for MARA students. As with iSchool coursework, but especially true with WISE courses, students must be able to meet the challenges of online learning, including adjusting to a different schedule and a new online learning system. You’ve got to roll with some changes, but isn’t that what technology and learning is all about?

Student experiences with WISE courses do vary, though this can be said about iSchool courses as well. I’ve taken courses with instructors from a variety of disciplines within the LIS field and each one brings their own rich and unique experience to teaching. Most students are especially motivated to take WISE courses because, as Putnam observed of the WISE students in her class, “They knew it would be their only chance to take this particular course.”

The opportunities at the iSchool are numerous and with the WISE program, those numbers and opportunities grow. If you’re really motivated, your graduate school education can be virtually limitless.

For questions or more information about the WISE program, students should contact Debbie Faires.

For related content about iSchool courses and other opportunities, check out:
Dig in Deep or Test Your Skills with Courses in Digital Curation and Programming

Fall 2016 Course Offerings– Highlights in Youth Services

INFO  285 Research Methods– A Required Course with a Wealth of Opportunities

image courtesy of Sira Anamwong