Monday, February 21, 2005

President's Column - Why I’m Enrolling in INFO 101.

I’ve decided this year to enroll in Information Management 101 – “Foundations of Information Systems”, affectionately known by those of us in the tertiary sector as simply “INFO 101”.

Why, I hear you ask? The President isn’t required to enroll as a student (although, I have enrolled this year). I haven’t done a 100-level paper since 2003. It doesn’t really relate to my masters thesis or either of my undergraduate degrees. It doesn’t even really interest me, to be honest.

However, it does have a kick arse advertising campaign going on. If you were in the quad last Wednesday, you may have noticed the Hell pizza (hmmmmm pizza), cans of Coke, and chrome yo-yos the lovely INFO 101 crew were giving out. The yo-yos are pretty cool, I must admit – the one that I picked up provides a regular distraction to doing real work, like, for example, writing this column. I’m trying to master “Walking the Dog”, as I am led to believe it will be assessed in my first INFO 101 test.

According to its website, INFO 101 is:
“An examination of the role of information systems in the business operations, managerial decision-making, and strategy of modern organisations. The course introduces the fundamental concepts of computer-based information systems
acquisition and use.”
If you understand what that means, you’re more intelligent than I am (actually, I don’t doubt that at all – almost everyone at Victoria University is more intelligent than I am, otherwise I wouldn’t still be here after 6 years).

While it was all very cool, the yo-yo says nothing about what the course actually is. Nor did the pizza. Nor did the Coke.

I don’t actually blame the School of Information Management for trying to market INFO 101, although I have my doubts about how effective it will actually be. In the competitive environment that is the modern tertiary education sector, universities departments, and, ultimately, courses, have to compete in order to attract students and, subsequently, funding. (If you’re still reading this – come down to my office and get a free can of V – first 5 only) The role of universities as a “critic and conscience of society” is being eroded in favour of the all mighty dollar. Actual informational material is being substituted for glossy brochures. Instead of spending money on replenishing the dilapidated library, the university is investing in lame television advertisements.

My advise to all students, first year right through to post-graduate: think before you enroll. Make sure you find out everything you can about courses before you hand over a small fortune in tuition fees. The last thing you want to do is enroll in a course that turns out to be nothing like what the promotional material said – not only will you get disillusioned with the subject, but you will get sick of university study. And no one wants that.

If you need to speak to someone, there are plenty of course advisors in each faculty – also, most course coordinators are happy to help you out. If they’re no good, come and have a talk to the VUWSA Education Coordinators, Sandra and Nicki, at the VUWSA office, Ground Floor of the Student Union Building.

Anyway, I’m off to my first INFO 101 lecture, 9am Tuesday morning in Maclaurin 103.
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