“The School of Information Management is taking academic research into the workplace because it matters to society. Sharing and exchanging information creates strong and resilient communities.”
Dr. Bertrum MacDonald, Professor, School of Information Management
The year 2019 heralds another Dalhousie milestone. The School of Information Management will commemorate its 50th anniversary. Our sister blog, INFORM, will be featuring the event in the coming months. We highly recommend a visit to this exciting virtual space.
“Information is what we are all about. We are passionate about data management, information literacy, accessibility, preservation, connecting communities and many more current information topics. This blog is a reflection of that passion: Stories from our community of innovative information managers who are turning their knowledge into action, within Dalhousie and beyond.” INFORM
CEGE Connection reached out to Dr. Bertrum MacDonald, Professor, School of Information Management, to share his thoughts on reaching the 50th year mark, given the ever-increasing influence of information management within our society.
Dr. Bertrum MacDonald:
I have been a faculty member in the School of Information Management for many years (more than half of the 50 that the School will celebrate in 2019!). During this period, I have served as Director of the School, then Associate Dean (Research) in the wider Faculty of Management, and recently for a short term as Interim Dean of the Faculty. I have taught courses in the Master of Information Management since it was launched in 2008, beginning with the first course offered in the program (Information, People, and Society). My primary research area focuses on questions about information use and influence in marine management and policy development. I head the interdisciplinary Environmental Information: Use and Influence Research Program based in the School of Information Management.
Tell us a little about the Master of Information Management Program:
In both focus and delivery, the Master of Information Management program (MIM) is unique in Canada. Dalhousie was the first university to offer such a graduate degree and remains the leader in this area. The diversity of students who are currently studying for or have completed the MIM is a definite strength of the program. Students in various lines of work (public, private, and not-for-profit) have used their MIM studies to leverage career advancement within their place of work and to successfully pursue new employment prospects. The students benefit from the flexibility of the blended delivery mechanism. The face-to-face intensive courses are especially notable for vibrant debate and exchange of ideas, discussion of professional practices, and consideration of solutions for information management issues. Every course offers insights that students can apply immediately or very quickly in their work.
What are the main objectives and outcomes you want to student to get take away from the capstone course?
The capstone course was designed to promote integration of the learning outcomes from all other courses students complete in the MIM. The focus is a research project related to the student’s place of work. As a strong advocate for using evidence to support management decisions, I believe that the capstone course offers students an excellent opportunity to develop and hone skills and understanding about the necessity of carefully considering a management issue or problem so that the research delivers meaningful and usable results.
How do you prepare students to take on this research project?
Much of the preparation for the research project occurs in other courses that the students complete. The topic may have been initially explored previously, e.g., in a review of literature on the subject, or considered in cases discussed in Intensive sessions. Before registering for the capstone course, students must have completed either the Research Methods or Program Evaluation courses where they are introduced to concepts and methods for establishing a focus for a project as well as options for data collection and analysis. In many instances, I have met with students in advance of beginning the capstone course to discuss their ideas and plans, especially about how to set the scope of a “doable” project.
Tell us about the project submissions: kinds of project, subject areas, the process, the application to the workplace.
The topics vary widely, reflecting the diversity of the students’ workplaces as well as the issues they deal with daily. During the Winter 2018 and Winter 2019 course offerings, for example, students investigated social media practices of school children and their parents, the potential use of a conversational bot in an information call centre, whether user experience could improve a business intelligence strategy, the merits of using incentives and rewards for information governance outcomes, the information skills and knowledge required in security and intelligence work, the effectiveness of redaction processes of files processed by a criminal court, and how information is used to build organizational identity, among several other very interesting subjects.
The School of Information Management is taking academic research into the workplace because it matters to society. Sharing and exchanging information creates strong and resilient communities.