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SLIS News

Information Architecture and Knowledge Management to Celebrate 10th Anniversary

Posted Nov. 23, 2011

By Nicole Gennarelli
The Information Architecture and Knowledge Management (IAKM) program will celebrate its 10th anniversary this November.

IAKM takes a holistic approach to how knowledge is managed, interpreted and retained through the graduate program's three concentrations: Knowledge Management, User Experience Design and Health Informatics. The program is administered by the School of Library and Information Science (SLIS) and is designed to provide students with information skills that will help them find careers in a field that is relatively new yet growing — and highly in demand.

The Master of Science in IAKM originated as an interdisciplinary program with partners from the schools of Journalism and Mass Communication, Library and Information Science, Communication Studies and Visual Communication Design, along with the College of Business Administration and Graduate School of Management and the Department of Computer Science.

"It was and is a truly innovative program that strived to anticipate new roles for information professionals," said Thomas Froehlich, Ph.D., IAKM founder and former program director. "It has done so quite successfully, though at the beginning it was challenging to encourage applicants to sign up for fields that were just emerging and for which there were few job ads. Yet, there were many students who, upon searching the Internet for a good program to suit their interests, happened upon the IAKM site and knew they had found an educational home."

The original concentrations were in Information Use, Information Architecture and Knowledge Management. In keeping with the evolution of the information professions, the concentrations now are User Experience Design (which encompasses information use, usability and information architecture), Knowledge Management and Health Informatics, a new concentration that started this year. In addition to offering the M.S., IAKM also offers certificate programs in these concentrations.

"The program was designed to be innovative, progressive and adaptive, and in its 10-year existence, it has changed courses, curricula and requirements in response to the dynamic and changing environment for the need for information professionals," Froehlich said. "The number of students enrolled in the program has been growing steadily, and the program is poised to rapidly increase enrollments in each of the concentrations, mainly due to the concentration advisers and their plans and realizations. Leadership has evolved to the advisers in each concentration: Denise Bedford, Ph.D., in Knowledge Management; David Robins, Ph.D., and Karl Fast, Ph.D., in User Experience Design; and Professor Michael Bice in Health Informatics. They all have considerable expertise in their respective fields and can lead these concentrations to maturity."

Richard Rubin, Ph.D., associate provost for extended education who served as SLIS director from 1999 to 2010, attributes much of the program's success to Froehlich.

"Dr. Froehlich's energy and commitment made IAKM possible," Rubin said. "During my time as director, I strongly supported IAKM's work. SLIS has also enthusiastically supported IAKM with both fiscal and human resources."

IAKM was ahead of the curve in recognizing the need for both knowledge managers and information architects, Rubin said.

"Although it had a relatively slow start, it now has substantial enrollments as the need for such individuals has become apparent in the workplace," he said. "Over the years, the curriculum has changed as the needs for such individuals have changed, and its contemporary curriculum makes it highly desirable for those going into the field. IAKM is a tremendous interdisciplinary asset to the university community."

James Gaudino, Ph.D., former dean of the College of Communication and Information who is now president of Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Wash., remembers IAKM as a cutting-edge program with the potential to gain an international presence.

"I saw it as a practical extension of changes in information and communication sciences generated by digital technologies," he said. "I was particularly impressed by its interdisciplinary breadth and its attractiveness to a broad range of professions. Without question, it held the potential of providing a framework to integrating the disciplinary and professional program that were the basis of the college."

Being at the leading edge of such a pioneering program at Kent State has been challenging and rewarding, Froehlich said.

"One of the greatest pleasures of the program is to see how many graduates have found successful and prestigious jobs, mainly because they were creative, energetic and hard-working persons," he said. "The program became a vehicle for them to shine, making the program look good and attracting more employers. A program is known by its graduates and if the IAKM program sparkles, it is due to the aura created by its graduates."

The graduates – along with Froehlich – will be the focus of the 10th anniversary celebration reception, said Don Wicks, Ph.D., SLIS interim director. "We're delighted to honor Dr. Froehlich's leadership, without which IAKM might not exist. And we look forward to welcoming back some of our alums, including our first ever IAKM alumnus of the year."

The reception will take place on Nov. 29 in Rm. 330 of the Kent State University Library from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. RSVP at http://bit.ly/iakm10th-rsvp.