Introduction to Programs Week: Information Systems and Design (ISD)

By Faria Khandaker (Second year ISD and HCDS student 2019-2021)

Information Systems and Design is a unique concentration. It is not very technical (only the database course involves coding) but the courses give you the knowledge to be able to work with both technical and non-technical stakeholders.  You learn about the latest information system management technologies on the market, how they interact with each other to help people in organizations complete their work, and how to model organizational processes and goals to find out whether a company needs to change certain practices or whether they need to invest in technology, among other things.

The courses are taught at a good pace and for most of the courses, the lectures go into enough detail for students to be able to complete the assignments. Much of the learning happens outside the classroom, while students work on group projects; and there are A LOT of group projects. I’m happy the upper years told me about this during my orientation last year, otherwise it would have been quite a shock. The word “Iteration” will be tattooed to your brain by the end of your first year.

For all your courses, you should ideally have your groups formed by the beginning of your 2nd lecture and start your group projects as soon as they are assigned. Despite starting early, putting the work in and attending all my group meetings, I still found myself “last-minuting” for some of the assignments because of changes that had to be made to the diagrams, models and write-ups due to new information that came up about a case study or the “discovery” of a small step that we, as group, missed in the detailed 6 page document containing assignment instructions. There really isn’t a way to prevent it because of the nature of the assignments and the pace of the classes. If you find yourself in situations like this, you are not alone, and it is completely normal. Not all assignments and courses are like this, but they exist.

The roles that ISD sets you up for (business analyst, systems analyst, etc.) are mainly team based where you must collaborate with people from different specialties and domains.

The beauty of this concentration is how versatile it is and how it can connect well to other concentrations. I am doing a double concentration with ISD and HCDS because with ISD I learn about the components of a system and what kinds of data flow through the components to allow the system to function. With HCDS I learn in-depth about what goes on inside those components and how the data collected by those components can be used and manipulated. It is a different experience from people who take ISD with UXD or KMIM. There are only five required courses for this concentration (all of which you can finish in your first year) which allows you to take a variety of courses from other concentrations. The flexibility and wide ranged applicability are the main reasons why I am in this concentration.

If you have questions about ISD or HCDS (Human Centered Data Science), let’s connect on Instagram! @ariafariakh

All images courtesy of Faria Khandanker.

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