OverviewMoore’s Law says that computing power doubles every 18 months. Regardless of whether that law is literally correct, it illustrates the rapid changes in information technology that will continue for the foreseeable future. The School of Informatics prepares students to meet the continuing demand for information technology professionals who know how to grow and adapt to this environment of rapid technological change.
Informatics is focused on the best applications of technologies, and emphasizes the social and psychological aspects of information technology. Some have called informatics “technology with a human face.” Informatics prepares professionals to use information technology to solve problems in a variety of settings. The degrees emphasize the development of new uses for technologies, always keeping in mind the needs of people and the best and most appropriate uses for technology.
Informatics students have the following:
- A technical understanding of how computing systems and programs operate
- An ability to adapt/assess and apply new trends in information technology (IT)
- Well-developed problem-solving skills
- Experience working on a team, such as those formed for the senior capstone experience
- Well-developed communications skills to clearly convey solutions and observations to others
- An understanding of social and ethical principles as they relate to IT issues
The undergraduate curriculum looks at information technology from a balanced perspective. It includes a technical core in the areas of mathematical foundations, distributed information, human-computer interaction, social/organization informatics, and new media. In addition to knowledge of core informatics and of informatics in the context of a traditional discipline, students must take a set of general-education courses to ensure that they can communicate clearly in both written and spoken English, read effectively, and reason quantitatively. They must be able to raise and rationally debate ethical concerns suggested by information technologies and their interactions with other people. Students also must have some knowledge of the world; its peoples: and their cultural, artistic, and scientific achievements. To this end, the general-education requirement exposes students to the arts and humanities, social and historical studies, and the natural sciences.
The school offers a Bachelor of Science in Informatics degree, four specialized professional master’s degrees, a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science degree, the Professional Master’s Program in Computer Science, a variety of undergraduate and graduate programs in New Media, and the Undergraduate Program in Health Information Administration. Informatics research is conducted at the Informatics Research Institute, which provides expanded educational opportunities for both undergraduate and graduate students.
Information Technology in Today’s LearningWhen Indiana University was founded in 1820, only Greek and Latin were taught. The curriculum has obviously changed over time, in response to both intellectual and practical needs. The most recent school to be established at Indiana University, the School of Informatics, responds to the world’s changing needs.
Today, one might say that programming languages and software tools are the Greek and Latin of our times, and no person can be called truly educated without mastery of these “languages.” It is not intended to suggest that the classical languages or any natural languages have been supplanted by C++ and Java. Indeed, making available the classical corpus in searchable digital form was one of the first applications of computing to the humanities. The point is to suggest the pervasiveness of information technology in all of civilized life. Much as Greek and Latin opened doors to the scholarship of the nineteenth century, so information technology opens doors to art and science in the twenty-first century.
The development of networks and distributed systems over the past several decades has changed forever the notion of a computer as something that merely “computes.” The computer is now an “information processor.” Arthur C. Clarke once said that “a sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Unfortunately, many people see computers and the Internet as magical. The mission of the School of Informatics is to educate citizens that advanced information technology is indistinguishable (or at least inseparable) from science and the arts.