Very often I am asked what informatics is when I tell people that I am studying informatics. Really, it concerns itself with the non-technical side of computer science (if you will). When I began this program, I wasn’t sure what skills and knowledge I would need to have, but as I’ve gone through this program, I believe there is an ideal skillset. So what is that ideal skillset? Well, as long as you have developed good critical and analytical thinking skills, you shouldn’t have a problem. However, I do believe there is an ideal background. This is what I belive that background is . . .
1. Well-rounded academic background (I hope you paid attention during those general requirements courses during undergrad years).
2. At least a couple of upper-division courses in all fields of study: humanities, social sciences, hard sciences, arts/performing arts. This will give you insight into the “culture” of each of these academic areas: how information is created, how their practitioners think, how they use information, their values, work practices, etc.
3. Competence in computer programming, networking/data communications, office productivity software, and arts/design software (DreamWeaver, Photoshop, etc.) Although informatics is about the non-technical, you will be required to interact with techies in your future informatics job. It’s a good idea to know what they are talking about . . . also it’s a good idea to be well-informed of the abilities and constraints of technologies (after all you are designing these info. solutions).
4. Any job/career experience. As you take classes and are exposed to theory, career experience will get you thinking abot the information problems, technological impacts, user needs, information problems, etc. specific to your former profession. As a former teacher, I am always thinking about the impact of technologies on the teaching profession, its impact on student learning, information problems, possible IT solutions, etc. It’s nice to have a point-of-reference.
5. A course or two in statistics. Surprisingly, many academic subjects rely heavily on statistics to validate information. Scientists will not say that they know anything for sure . . . it’s all a matter of statistics, and the statistics suggest that their hypothesis is correct. You can’t seriously think you can properly evaluate information if you don’t have any competence in this area.