Training Information Brokers: A Curriculum Model

Article excerpt

Introduction

Designing and launching an entirely new program, leading to bachelor degree, is a challenging job for every school, especially if this program is a new one not only for the school itself, but globally. Such project requires allocation of significant resources, first of all human and intellectual resources, but also financial, material and informational. The puzzle of the new program is constructed piece by pieces from information collected from many sources. Also designing the curriculum for a new program has to show balance between what are needed and what are available training resources--relevant courses taught in other majors, instructors, training materials, laboratories, equipment, etc. available in the school, but designed for different purpose. Here we will share the experience we gained in launching a major for "Information Brokerage" in the State University of Library Studies and Information Technologies, Sofia. The program was launched in academic year 2003/04 and the first class graduated in 2006/07.

Information Brokerage, as an educational subject, existed solely as qualifying professional training at that time (Rachmeler, 1995). Special programs were designed for serving different categories of students, e.g. designed to qualify unemployed professionals to find a new carrier path (Christozov & Nikolova, 2001). Some universities offered graduate programs oriented to train the expertise we are defining as Information Brokers (http://www.libsci.sc.edu/). But at the time of launching the major, mentioned above, there were no, to the best of our knowledge, programs designed for a bachelor level of Information Brokerage.

At that time, we had clear understanding about how important is the early start of training in the field to accomplish the objectives of this program, as well as quite clear understanding what has to be included in such a program. Also we were fully aware about the difficulties in building such program, because we lacked direct sources we may learn from, and more importantly, we lacked knowledge of social and professional experience students need to advance in this subject. The third difficulty comes from the extensive and diverse corpus of knowledge we had to accumulate to proceed. The lack of prior experience required ordering carefully the sequence of topics to allow smooth grow.

The paper is organized in the following way:

The first section addresses the social, technological and economic factors that create the necessity of launching the program.

In second section we described our preliminary assumptions about the knowledge and skills needed to excel in the profession of information brokers. They have not changed significantly since the launching of the program.

The third section describes the curriculum of the program.

The fourth section comments strengths and weaknesses of the program.

In the Conclusion we list recommendations for further development of the program and assess the level of achievement of the initial objectives.

Needs of Properly Educated Information Mediators

The dilemma "sinking in information and being not enough informed", characterize the last twenty years. There are two major factors in support of the need for establishing proper education in the field of informing clients, and therefore the need for professionally educated information mediators--Information Brokers.

The first one is the advancement of information technologies and their impact. In the last years all facets of human life have changed completely, making information technologies unavoidable. The second major factor is globalization of the world economy, with two basic consequences:

--To do his or her everyday business, to make proper and rational decisions, one needs information--complete, correct, reliable, etc. Both parties, sellers and clients, have similar access to information and to succeed in the business everyone has to be better informed. …

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