A Week of Learning at FIMS

Here's a sample overview of some highlights for a random week at FIMS…

I don't have class on Monday which means it's technically the day that I work on my independent Study project.  This week, I think I worked on sleeping, playing computer games, watching Oprah and eating Cheetos.

Tuesday is our management class.  Because it's a compressed course, it starts at 8:30am instead of 9am like most other morning classes.  And for some strange reason, lately, I'm usually one of the first people there.  This week I had the pleasure of being the absolute first and turning on the lights.  As for the class itself, I should maybe just say that not too many people I've talked to have ever enjoyed their management class at FIMS and leave it at that? 

Okay, I did learn one thing this week – the professor spent some time talking about one article he read as an undergrad which he called “the most influential article I've read in my life.”  It's called “The Science of Muddling Through” and was written in 1959 by a guy called Charles Lindbolm.  I haven't read it yet but the prof described it as the author basically poking holes in all management theory and saying that essentially, what happens is that managers are faced with constant decisions and they make the best decisiosn they can in the quickest manner possible given limited information and time to decide.  This resonated so much with me that I went up at break and got permission to respond to this article instead of one of our assigned weekly responses to the textbook which the class are increasingly disliking.  I know I was frustrated enough to use Dilbert as my required “source” a couple weeks ago.  Another classmate has used Monty Python sketches three weeks in a row.  And one classmate showed me her latest weekly response in which she used the methodology of the documentary, “The Corporation” to assess our textbook as if it was a manager then finding it unable to motivate, ineffective, disorganized, unreasonable and inflexible.  She concludes her paper by saying if our textbook were a manager, she would fire it. 

Wednesday is my Managing Internet Information class and even though I consider myself fairly technnology-savvy,  it's a great class where we're constantly learning about useful web sites, program and technology tricks.  This week, a bunch of my classmates were raving about www.protopage.com for instance.  The prof knows his stuff inside and out and is confident enough to teach the information he has each week and then let the class go even if we're being let out early, something other professors almost seem afraid to do. (Of course, the fact that class happened on the same afternoon as a World Cup semi-final and the prof is a huge soccer fan is probably also part of the reason we got out early!)  Went to the Grad Club to watch the game but it was packed so ended up sitting on the patio for a few hours with various people from upper cohorts and having a few laughs.  I heard from someone (Christina?) that FIMS has a new policy that we'll get a reading week each semester which is great news.  (I put that in bold so it'll stand out for anybody scanning this entry quickly and ignoring most of my babble.  I haven't heard it confirmed by any authority but the calendar on the FIMS intranet – http://intra.fims.uwo.ca/dates-grad.asp – shows Oct 30-Nov 3 as “Research Week” so that sounds promising.)  I missed having one this semester (although CLA was sort of the same thing – not a full-on break but definitely a break from school) and you can see people starting to crack up a bit by mid-semester so it's probably a wise decision.

I have “Collections Development in Academic Libraries” as a night class and after thinking I'd drop the class after our first session, it's grown to be one of my favourites.  One of the things making the class so valuable is the professor brings in guest speakers on nearly a weekly basis and this week was no exception.  We had two women who work as collections developers in the nursing and health sciences areas at UWO.  They gave a great presentation then had us do the single best exercise I've done at FIMS.  For it, they handed out a sheet that listed the typical courses that would be offered to undergrad Occupational Therapy students, the research interests of the faculty and a list of 15 books in the area along with cover scans, prices, dates and short blurbs.  As small groups, we were given a budget of $300 and told to come up with a list of books we would buy and why.  This was interesting enough – talking with my groupmates and discussing the strategies we would use (we ended up going through the books one-by-one and ranking them on a scale of 1-5 based on things like cost, whether it was Canadian or not, relevance to courses or faculty, etc.)  Then all the groups wrote their lists on the board, it was revealing to see the similiarites and differences.  Although no one visiting a library sees which book you ranked first and which you ranked seventh (no matter their choices, all groups ended up buying 7 books which was also interesting), it was cool to see how the different groups ranked them and hear a bit about why.  Some (including us) put the one written by a faculty member first (obvious decision, I thought.)  Some put an introductory textbook first because of how much value it would have to many students (others thought that libraries didn't normally collect textbooks unless it was to be specially put on reserve so didn't choose it at all.)  Oh, and our group actually ended up being the only one to “buy” eight books because, thinking outside the box, we decided that our vendor always gave us a 20% discount on our purchases and this freed up an extra $60 to buy one last book.  Very fun, very enlightening, and very useful. 

Went to Children's Literature in the morning and people who aren't in the class probably find it hard to believe that this is the class where I'm doing the most work of any course I'm taking!  We have to read both professional articles/chapters from textbooks plus a novel or two from various genres of children's literature each week.  We have to e-mail the prof a brief response to these readings.  We have three major assignments.  Plus we have to do a fairly involved direct interview with a child about the books they own including preparing a transcript of the interview, a list of the books they own (my child had over 100) and a short essay about our experience.  Plus we have to do a “Book Talk”, a brief 3-5 minute presentation “selling” a book to our class as if we were presenting it to a group of young people.  Luckily, in addition to being my hardest class, it's also one of my favourites.  So that's all good! 

Classmate of the Day: Christina for having a very fun party last night (she lives just down the hall in our building which was extremely convenient)

Comments 2

  1. Anonymous wrote:

    Good news and bad news on the Reading Week. This is definitely true. It was passed at the last faculty committee meeting. I wasn't there, but Trixie was and both she and Dr. McKechnie have passed the information along to me.
    The bad news is that it isn't a “holiday” it is a true study week. Part of the intention is to allow time for missed classes (due to falling on a holiday Monday or Friday, for example) being made up — so some people will have one or two classes during that week. The other intention is to allow students time to work on assignments, so expect a lot of assignments to be due the following week.
    So it isn't as good as it sounds, but it is probably better than the current system. I won't get to experience it, either way.

    Posted 09 Jul 2006 at 2:17 pm
  2. Anonymous wrote:

    Hey Mike,
    Thanks for the clarification. I guess that makes sense. I've already written somewhere on this blog how it seemed weird that they'd make a big deal of having a few compressed classes offered so we didn't miss out on the full 14 weeks (that's what happened with 506 which runs for 3.5 hours a week to make up for starting two weeks late) when some classes (especially those that fell on a Monday this summer) missed two weeks for stat holidays. As you say, not as good as a full week off but an improvement on the current system.

    Posted 10 Jul 2006 at 12:39 am
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