Froehlich, Morrison honored at IAKM 10th anniversary celebration
The School of Library and Information Science last week celebrated the 10th anniversary of the Information Architecture and Knowledge Management program. The event included honoring IAKM founder and former program director Thomas J. Froehlich, Ph.D., “for providing inspiration and leadership in the creation and oversight of the Information Architecture and Knowledge Management program,” with the creation of an annual award in his name to recognize an outstanding student in the program.
Also at the ceremony, Jason Morrison, M.S. '07,was named first IAKM Alumnus of the Year.
The Information Architecture and Knowledge Management program takes a holistic approach to how knowledge is managed, interpreted and retained through the graduate program’s three concentrations: knowledge management, user experience design (which encompasses information use, usability and information architecture) and health informatics, a new concentration that started this year. Administered by the School of Library and Information Science (SLIS), the program provides students with 21st-century information skills that will help them find career opportunities in fields that are relatively new, yet growing and highly in demand.
Don A. Wicks, Ph.D., SLIS interim director, told guests at the anniversary celebration, "The success of the IAKM program is due in large measure to the sturdy foundation on which it was built 10 years ago. About that time, a group of Kent State faculty from various disciplines recognized the need to create an academic program that would address the growing demand for a new kind of information professional. Among those visionaries was Dr. Tom Froehlich, a professor in the School of Library and Information Science.
"Tom’s own interdisciplinary background can somewhat account for what has allowed IAKM the flexibility and durability required for its growth and maturation. Tom has a bachelor’s degree in English literature, a master’s and a Ph.D. in philosophy and a master’s in information science. No wonder, then, that IAKM gives its students a breadth and depth of learning beyond what is offered in similar programs around the country."
Froehlich's research interests include curriculum development in information science and emerging roles for information professionals and a philosophical framework for relevance research. The majority of his published work is concerned with ethical considerations in the information professions, evolving in part from his philosophy background. He teaches courses in information science, ethics, network and software resources, online searching and user interface design. He has provided workshops, training, seminars and presentations in 23 countries, primarily in the areas of online searching and ethical concerns of information professionals.
In 2006 Froehlich was named a Quantum InfoStar by Dialog. He is active in the American Society for Information Science and Technology, the Information Architecture Summit, the Association for Library and Information Science Education, the International Federation of Library Associations (IFLA) and the Special Libraries Association, which honored him earlier this year for his work on the development of ethical guidelines for the organization.
According to Froehlich, being at the leading edge of such a pioneering program at Kent State has been challenging and rewarding. “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 Information Architecture and Knowledge Management program sparkles, it is due to the aura created by its graduates.”
The graduates – along with Froehlich – were the focus of the 10th anniversary celebration reception, said Wicks. “It was an honor to recognize Tom's leadership, without which IAKM might not exist. And we were delighted to welcome back some of our alums."
Jason Morrison, IAKM's first Alumnus of the Year, lives in California and was not on hand to receive his award.
Morrison is a support engineer on the Search Quality Team at Google. Among his efforts is a custom search engine for looking up questionable ads and sales pitches, called “Is this a scam?”
"If you're wondering whether or not to buy into a work-at-home system or take advantage of some incredible offer, just use Jason’s tool to save you from a possible scam," Wicks said.
Morrison has also worked on tools to help webmasters block fake user accounts and protect their sites from spam and other abuses, and, on the lighter side, he developed a tool for Firefox that tells people to get back to work when they have been loitering too long on YouTube or other non-work websites. He writes a private, non-Google blog with helpful articles on information architecture, information retrieval, website design and social software.
"I’m really honored to receive the Alumnus of the Year award from the IAKM program," Morrison said in an email. "Reflecting back, I think the most valuable parts of the program for me were the hands-on experience, the great faculty, and the opportunities to take on ambitious projects.
"The hands-on experience doing usability testing was extremely valuable, even though I don’t do formal usability studies often today. It taught me how to make data-driven UI decisions and made me continuously question my assumptions about user behavior. After just a few live tests it became clear that not everyone uses the Web the same way that I do, and that even the most thought-out design might fail to fit users’ needs in some ways."
As an IAKM student, Morrison did research on how well tagging systems and folksonomies support information retrieval and was published in the journal Information Processing and Management. He also created a diet tracking Web application called Mealographer, which allows users to search a database of foods, record what they are eating, set goals, and track their progress.
"The program’s faculty were always supportive and brought many interesting perspectives that made class time really interesting," Morrison said, "from Dr. (Tom) Froelich’s philosophical asides in my first IAKM class to working on my thesis with Dr. (David) Robins, Dr. (Yin) Zhang and Dr. (Marcia) Zeng. I definitely would not have been able to get my research published without their help and advice.
"The IAKM program (also) gave me a chance to design ambitious projects like Mealographer, usability studies using the eye tracking system, and the information retrieval research which led to my thesis. My advice to current students is to find something you are passionately interested in and work with the faculty to design projects and research that really challenges you. The course work may set you up for success, but you have an opportunity to build things that could be used by real users or contribute a bit of knowledge to your field."
Morrison and his wife, Ann, garnered international attention about three years ago when they asked family, friends, and strangers on the Internet to help name their first child. The result was more than 10,000 responses, publicity in the New York Daily News and on Australian TV. (Their daughter is named Athena Marie Morrison.)