Sunday, March 22, 2009

Connie Crosby's 7 Reasons for Taking an Information Management Certificate

Last month I wrote about starting on the new Information Management Certificate from the Professional Learning Centre (the PLC) at the iSchool at Toronto. Since that time, I have completed the two introductory courses with Deirdre Grimes and Ivan Welsh, including handing in the assignments, and just finished attending the Information Management Analyses course with Janet de Guzman and have to work on the assignment.

What keeps coming up is the question, "Why?". Why am I taking this program? Didn't I already learn information management in library school? How is it that I am consulting in information management, and yet need to take courses? All excellent questions!

Here, then, are my top 7 reasons for taking this program:

  1. Information management is a relatively new discipline. When I embarked on my Master of Library Science (MLS) degree twenty years ago, it was not on the radar of any library science program. While many of the skills of librarians are transferable to information management (or IM), we do not necessarily have formal training in this area.
  2. I am more studied in Knowledge Management. Much of my reading and learning has been in the area of Knowledge Management (or KM). Often times KM embraces IM, or IM embraces KM, depending on the organization. I learned from Deirdre Grimes that they are two separate disciplines that have developed in parallel. As I learn more about IM, I see a lot of overlap between the two. But, there are a lot of differences as well.
  3. I want to supplement my practical experience. I have practical experience in IM, including many of the projects I work on for clients, but I do not have formal training in this area. Most people working in this area do not. What the program is offering me is a methodical look through each of the areas encompassed by IM, so I can learn about areas I have not yet experienced. I am also broadening my understanding and pulling together ideas that I already know, as well as finding out about practical tools for use in my work.
  4. Learning from the other participants. We come from a range of organizations and disciplines, and can all learn from one another. It is not just librarians taking this program, but records managers, those in IT and, yes, some consultants. We come from government, non-profits, and businesses. The course, much like an MBA program, is set up so that we all get to discuss our experiences and learn from one another. This technique helps to bring the curriculum to life.
  5. Timing of the program is flexible. I can jump in and finish up the whole program by the end of June, or I can do the courses as I have time. The whole set is being taught again in the fall, and again both in the spring and fall next year. I am playing it by ear and signing up for the courses as I feel it will best fit in with my client work.
  6. The instructors. The instructors come from a range of industries, so I get the benefit of hearing from another point of view. These people are expert practitioners in their areas, so they are putting this information to practical use themselves and bringing their extensive experience to the program.
  7. I am applying what I learn immediately. I have been able to take the assignments and adapt them to work I am already doing, thereby learning directly from the course and giving the immediate benefit to my clients. I wish a lot of what I am learning I already knew when I was library manager.


Wendy Reynolds said...

Connie, I finished the certificate last year, and although it was sometimes a tough slog to fit the homework in with "work work", it was a really worthwhile undertaking. You're right - the faculty are great and the quality of the discussion in the classes is quite a departure from grad school.

Connie Crosby said...

I didn't know you had taken it, too, Wendy. They have revamped the program significantly since last year. And as you can tell, I am quite excited about taking it.

Thank you for the encouragement!


Marjan said...

"As I learn more about IM, I see a lot of overlap between the two. But, there are a lot of differences as well."

What are the differences? I'm finding it very difficult to get a clear understanding of what IM involves. Is it closer to records management? Why would you need an IM certificate if you already have experience in KM?