Information Science Education – An Introduction
In a broader sense, information is structured, processed and organised information designed to satisfy some pre-determined need. It gives context to other information and allows intelligent action making. For instance, a single consumer’s sale in a restaurant is statistical information-this becomes data when the company is able to discern the trend of highest sale percentage. With such information available at our finger tips, we can take small steps to improve our lives-from education and career to personal consumption.
However, information science also incorporates the use of big data to analyse large amounts of information. This can be applied in fields as varied as weather prediction and stock trading. These forms of information are so varied, that it is not possible to study them all in one academic paper. For each area of expertise, there will be at least a handful of papers written on its particular topic, and those authors who have spent considerable time and effort in their field will almost certainly have published many articles on that topic alone.
This leads to a new challenge faced by all social scientists, that of explaining the process of increasing information output as the development of better systems of information processing. This can be done through modelling, simulations and the observation of how different systems do interact. Those models and simulations that do emerge, however, are themselves not consistent with each other. The real test of the validity of any information system, is its reproducibility, or the ability to be checked and tested against observations. For this reason, social science scholars have been exploring methods to improve this process for decades.
The field of information science has responded to this challenge in several ways. One of the most important is the establishment of a discipline, Information Science Education, which is concerned with providing information science training and research opportunities for students interested in the subject. Another way is through the use of databases, which provide information relevant to a particular area of study. In this way the search for information is directed towards a particular topic, rather than general research. The third way is through the use of information systems, which refers to the use of computer systems to store, manipulate and transmit information.
Information systems are used widely in fields such as management, economics and communications. In the recent past this has become even more important, with the introduction of new information technology into the economy, and the explosion of web-based communication. This has made it much easier for economic policies to be devised, and scientific research to be carried out worldwide, from the comfort of the scientists’ offices. The impact of information technology has extended well beyond these fields, however, with new fields arising to deal with the changes made by the Internet.
At a personal level, information science education has been recognised by employers as something that will help create a well-trained workforce that is quick to respond to a particular problem, but also eager to learn new things. In today’s highly competitive business environment information technology skills are more important than ever, and information science programmes at university level and above have been established in order to prepare students for the new demands placed on them in this highly competitive environment. In order to provide these skills prospective students need to be equipped with an understanding of both information systems and scientific theory, and they need to demonstrate these skills in a clear and concise manner.