Indiana Daily Student

New School of Informatics begins with high enrollment

School to add more sections during the spring semester

A new school emerged on campus this year for the first time in more than 25 years. The School of Informatics is now open to students for undergraduate degrees.\nThe school teaches about information technology applied to solving human problems, said Michael Dunn, dean of informatics.\n"We are one of a handful of a new breed information technology schools," Dunn said. "We concentrate more on the use, and we have had tremendous cooperation with other units on campus such as computer science, school of library (science) and other information technology related units."\nStudents who choose to major in informatics will apply this knowledge to other disciplines that they have chosen such as journalism, computer science, cognitive science, geography, interior design and many more.\nThe school is lobbying the legislature for more money, Dunn said. He said the legislature should be interested because informatics will play an important role in educating students for the new economy.\n"It is exciting to take a concept and actually give it shape with detailed courses and curriculum and finding people to implement these things," Dunn said. "Plus, it is exciting to find interested students."\nThe school only offers lower level courses, but that should change in the near future.\n"This year we are offering classes largely at freshman and sophomore levels," Dunn said. "Next year we plan to phase in junior, senior and masters level. We are just taking these things one step at a time."\nSome critics of the school say it might not be teaching the right things.\n"I worry that the School of Informatics doesn't belong at a first-rate research university, as Indiana University is supposed to be," said Gail Hanson, a distinguished physics professor. "Is it carrying out forefront research in areas of computer science, information technology or related areas, or is it teaching students how to design Web pages, which is something that could be done at a two-year junior college or community college? Perhaps it is too early to tell."\nSome of the courses offered include I101: Introduction to Informatics, I110: Basic Tools of Informatics, I201: Math Foundations of Informatics and I400: Technology and Business: Making the Marriage Work.\n"We have a total of 180 students enrolled in introduction to informatics with three sections being taught this semester," department secretary Wendy Elliot said. "Also, basic tools of informatics has been divided into two eight-week sessions."\nAssociate professor Gregory Rawlins, who teaches Introduction to Informatics, said the course is going well and students are enjoying it.\n"The students are pretty open, and we have had interesting discussions with it only being the first week of school," Rawlins said.\nFreshman Clay Earley, one of Rawlin's students, said he likes the class, which he views as one of many steps to getting a guaranteed job once he graduates.\n"Nowadays, you can get a job anywhere with the qualities this degree has," Clay said. "The professor is really into getting everyone involved."\nSome students took the class out of curiosity.\n"I wanted to see what it is all about," freshman Cory Steger said. "It seems like it may be a little hard, but it will be useful, and I would recommend it to other students."\nEnrollment has been high this semester, leaving some students on a waitlist.\n"I have always had two concerns: one being not enough students and the other having too many, and it looks like it will be the last one," Dunn said.\nTo deal with the high number of students who want to participate, the school will offer more sections in the spring.\n"I am excited about being a part of something new," Rawlins said. "You get to be a pioneer certain to make mistakes, but certain to learn something from these new experiences"

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