School at Drexel
College of Information Science and Technology
Computers Could Save Your Life
You are probably aware of our vision here at The iSchool at Drexel: To empower society by uniting people, technology and information through innovative education and research. You’ll find this stated on our Web site, and it is noted on many of our printed materials.
School at Drexel
College of Information Science and Technology
More important than the words themselves, however, is how this vision is put into action by iSchool faculty, students and alumni. Our faculty is world-renowned for innovative research in such areas as bibliometrics, information access and use, collaborative learning, digital libraries, human-computer interaction, informatics, artificial intelligence and knowledge management, just to name a few. Our undergraduate students hold themselves to the highest levels of excellence through not only their class work, but also their co-op employment — dedication that is recognized by their employers as indicated by the fact that iSchool students earn the highest average gross six-month co-op salaries at Drexel University, $17,886. Our graduate and PhD students have made serious commitments to enhance their knowledge in the areas of information studies and technology. And iSchool alumni are leaders in society. Entrepreneur, CIO, special librarian and educator: These titles represent a small sample of the types of jobs graduates move on to after their time here.
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These are just highlights of how all those connected with the iSchool strive for the very best. It is also clear that the College’s success is acknowledged outside of Drexel, success most recently noted in U.S.News & World Report’s “America’s Best Graduate Schools.”
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Drexel University Computing Academy
FROM THE DEAN
David E. Fenske, PhD Isaac L. Auerbach Professor and Dean
Giving back....On Your Terms
The iSchool is EVERYWHERE!
Behind the Scenes
As Seen on TV
Getting the Inside Scoop
In Memoriam 1946-2009 Drexel President Constantine Papadakis
U.S.News & World Report’s rankings are in part based on peer assessment by leaders at other colleges and universities, graduation and retention rates, college resources, financial resources and student selectivity. The iSchool’s MS has consistently ranked in the top 20 programs, and this year advanced two places, having previously been rated 11th nationally.
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I am pleased to announce that the iSchool’s Master of Science in Library and Information Science (MS) is now ranked among the top 10 library science programs in the nation. The program was rated ninth in the nation overall, and is in the top two among private colleges and universities. The College’s national rankings for its specialties in Information Systems and Digital Librarianship came in at numbers three and six respectively. The College also ranked fifth under the Library and Information Studies specialty rankings for Health Librarianship.
It is with great pride that I see the iSchool’s commitment to education recognized time and time again. Looking to the future, I know that our programs will continue to grow, the reach of our research will continue to move across disciplines, and the graduates from our College will continue to represent the strength of our programs. With that in mind, I thank iSchool faculty, students, alumni and staff for their commitment to the College, a commitment that has made it the respected school that it is today.
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space and presentation style is a great opportunity,” said Rogers. “There is the potential for future planning, real-time decision support, and the ability to benchmark care plans with evidence-based practices. All of these things have the potential to affect safety, satisfaction and performance.” Could healthcare informatics have a direct impact on your health? Yes.
Healthcare Informatics Computers Could Save Your Life From academia to industry, the private sector to politics, healthcare informatics is being acknowledged as a key component to the advancement of the healthcare industry. Politically, its significance in the future of American medicine has been acknowledged across two administrations. The Bush Administration called for establishing electronic medical records by 2014, and President Barack Obama has committed approximately $19 billion in economic stimulus funds to help make electronic records systems a reality for all physicians and hospitals. Economically, healthcare informatics is one of the fastest growing career fields in America. Health Informatics Specialist was named by U.S. News & World Report in its “The 30 Best Careers of 2009,” and the position was also acknowledged as one of the publication’s 13 “Ahead-ofthe-Curve Careers.” As home to Drexel University’s Institute for Healthcare Informatics, as well as its Certificate in Healthcare Informatics, the iSchool is on the front lines of research and education within this dynamic field.
Healthcare informatics specializes in how to best utilize computer technology to store, manage, distribute and interpret information and seeks new ways to convert data into information for application within healthcare. “The strength of healthcare informatics lies in its ability to give clinicians, researchers, administrators and patients access to data that previously was only available manually or in isolation,” said iSchool Assistant Professor Michelle Rogers. Through increased ease of access to data and information, the field of healthcare informatics provides a platform from which researchers and healthcare professionals can map health trends globally — consider how quickly and easily the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention were able to track cases of the H1N1 flu earlier this year — and among individual patients. “The ability to study this information freely across time,
Journal of Medicine in March 2009 showed that only 1.5 percent of hospitals surveyed* have a comprehensive electronic records system, with an additional 7.6 percent utilizing a basic system. Why the delay? The hurdles that hospitals and clinics face regarding the development of electronic medical records systems are vast.
“We found big challenges,” said Drexel University’s Institute Rogers. “First, IT A study released in is a field that is not the Archives of Infor Healthcare Informatics used to dealing ternal Medicine in with such a comJanuary 2009 report(IHI) seeks solutions to plex, tightly coued that those hospipled workplace tals and clinics with the problems faced by as healthcare is electronic patient — changes in one charts and drug orthe medical community part of the system ders recorded fewer often affect other complications during regarding the parts of the syshospitalization and tem in unanticilower mortality implementation of technology pated ways. Adrates. Additionally, ditionally, IT fields the study showed to everyday tasks within are not used to that the cost of care dealing with work was lower in those healthcare settings. practices that are hospitals utilizing so non-standard. electronic medical Often the units and departments records — between $110 and $538 at hospitals all work differently, so it less expensive per patient. makes it hard to standardize code and technology.” Are electronic health records widely implemented? Not yet. Researchers from Drexel’s Institute for Healthcare Informatics are Research from the Department of among those addressing these Health Policy and Management at challenges and developing usable, the Harvard School of Public Health easily implementable systems for published in the New England healthcare organizations.
Drexel University’s Institute for Healthcare Informatics (IHI), led by iSchool at Drexel Research and Teaching Professor Prudence Dalrymple, seeks solutions to the problems faced by the medical community regarding the implementation of technology in everyday tasks within healthcare settings. The IHI is supported through a collaboration of the iSchool, Drexel University College of Medicine, the College of Nursing and Health Professions and the School of Public Health. “Most informatics programs are in medical schools or nursing schools,” said Dalrymple. “Drexel is unique in that we have both the medical school and nursing components, and also a strong and innovative technology component.” Technology as it relates to the healthcare fields is continually evolving. Through the IHI, educators, researchers and professionals from all healthcare sectors,and the fields of information technology and information science seek more effective ways to leverage technology to improve patient care. “The IHI is at an advantage compared with other programs, because the iSchool is committed not to technology alone, but connecting people with information through technology,” Dalrymple notes. The iSchool provides not only expertise in information technology, information systems and software development, the College’s research also maintains a strong focus on how people utilize technology to connect with information.
als’ needs to better link data generated from all healthcare workers — nurses to nutritionists to dentists. These systems must be easy to use, and the information must be easy to access. The iSchool’s focus on the connection between technology and people and how information is stored and gathered places it in a position to answer all of these issues for the 11th Street Family Health Services Center — it is the goal of iSchool researchers to develop workable systems for practicing professionals.
It is the human-centered component — learning how people use technology to find information in order to enhance their lives — that enables the iSchool to develop usable systems for application in a variety of healthcare settings. The role of healthcare informatics in the community has recently been a primary focus of IHI researchers at the 11th Street Family Health Services Center of Drexel University, a state-ofthe-art, nurse-managed health center providing urban public housing residents with a transdisciplinary model of care. This facility is unique in its approach to providing quality healthcare, treating patients for emergent and chronic diseases, as well as addressing lifestyle issues that can affect health throughout their lives. Nurse practitioners, midwives, physical therapists, nutritionists, health educators, dentists, mental health practitioners and fitness trainers all play a role in implementing health promotion programs through the center. Clinical and preventive programs are developed and coordinated by Drexel’s College of Nursing and Health Professions, with the involvement of faculty and students from the School of Public Health, the LeBow College of Business and the iSchool.
The iSchool has been involved with the 11th Street Family Health Services Center since 2007, with faculty analyzing the role of technology in patient safety and care and studying how to efficiently disseminate important information to patients. iSchool researchers are collaborating with the College of Nursing and Health Professions and the College of Medicine, analyzing the design and development of the center’s electronic medical record. Many EMRs do not accommodate the transdisciplinary care model effectively, and therefore cannot capture the information needed to determine how well the clinic’s patients are coping with their health conditions. The iSchool’s specialists in human-computer interaction are looking into new ways to create systems compatible with healthcare profession-
Further acknowledging the importance of the education of these practicing professionals in expanding the use of technology within healthcare, the iSchool also offers a three-course Certificate in Healthcare Informatics. The Certificate is designed to increase students’ knowledge of the application of information technology to managing the complex social and organizational issues healthcare professionals face in the transition to a digital environment. The program is available online to healthcare workers worldwide, ensuring everyone has an equal opportunity for education in informatics. “Philadelphia is the cradle of American medicine, with a long, rich tradition,” said Dalrymple. “Drexel’s Institute for Healthcare Informatics assures that it will have an exciting future as it brings together professionals from both healthcare and IT to create new solutions to improve health.” * Responses recorded from 63.1 percent (or 3,049) of American Hospital Association member acute care hospitals.
To learn more about Drexel’s Institute for Healthcare Informatics, visit www.ischool.drexel.edu/ihi
DUCA Summer camp — the term used to evoke images of log cabins, bunk beds, canoeing, campfires and bug spray. In recent years, however, students have sought summer programs through which they can develop new skills that will serve them in college and beyond. One of the newest programs offered at Drexel University meets the needs of those students interested in computing and technology.
Drexel University Computing Academy (DUCA) is not your typical summer camp. Sponsored by The iSchool at Drexel, College of Information Science and Technology and Drexel University’s Department of Computer Science from the College of Engineering, DUCA is a five-week residential program that immerses high school students in the college experience. Students live in dorms, dine at University facilities and take courses with Drexel faculty.
management and leadership. The collaboration between the iSchool and the College of Engineering allows the program to effectively cover a range of computer technology and application topics. DUCA receives additional faculty support from Drexel’s Bennett S. LeBow College of Business and Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design.
The program is designed to expand students’ knowledge in the field of information technology and software development, while also teaching them about project
During DUCA, students pursue two tracks of study: software development, through which students learn the many steps of software development, and
“In many ways, it’s a microcosm of networks, where students learn to construct and manage computer networks. The program’s curriculum also includes courses in human-computer interaction, robotics, game design, animation and marketing. Additionally, students participate in Independent Team Projects throughout the program. Through the Independent Team Projects, students explore how they can apply computer and information technology to solve everyday problems. “This is a great opportunity to experience what college is really like,” said Academic Director Jeffrey Popyack. “It’s a lot more revealing than an overnight visit. In many ways, it’s a microcosm of the freshman year experience. Students get a closeup view of the Computer Science, Information Systems, Information Technology and Software Engineering programs. I hope they will return here as freshmen — and bring their friends with them!” Throughout the program, DUCA’s Residential Life Team works toward creating an engaging environment outside the classroom providing students with a well-rounded range of extracurricular activities, which include athletics, dance lessons, game nights and field trips. DUCA is an outgrowth of the Pennsylvania Governor’s School for Information, Society and Technology (PGSIST), which was hosted at Drexel from 1998 through 2008. In February 2009, funding for PGSIST was eliminated, one of many programs affected by sweeping state budget cuts.
the freshman year experience. Students get a close-up view of the Computer Science, Information Systems, Information Technology and Software Engineering programs.” Jeff Popyack
DUCA was developed as an alternative program to meet the demand for a quality summer educational experience for college-bound high school sophomores and juniors. “When budget cuts were announced, calls and e-mails from students and parents started coming in,” said iSchool Dean David E. Fenske. “There is a demand for a program that is educational and helps students develop skills they will take with them well beyond high school. DUCA was developed to meet this demand.”
DUCA Drexel University Computing Academy
“Think to yourself, ‘Do I need it more than ALUMNI
others need it? Can others benefit from this more than me?’ If you don’t need it, or don’t use it, you can donate it.”
Giving Back…. On Your Terms
Giving back does not always seem easy. Maybe there are just too many organizations to which you’d like to give. Maybe there seem to be so many ways to give, it’s difficult to decide which best fits your lifestyle, goals and finances. There is also the concern that you can’t give a huge gift. The truth is, there is value in any contribution. And there are a number of ways you can give back to the iSchool that don’t cost a dime.
Give the Gift of Tangible Personal Property First-edition books. Coin collections. Antique furniture. China. Clocks. Jewelry. Perhaps you found an old painting while cleaning out the attic, or you are downsizing and trying to figure out what you will do with an elaborate chest of drawers. “Think to yourself, ‘Do I need it more than others need it? Can others benefit from this more than me?’” says Mitchell Spearman, Assistant Vice President at Drexel University’s Office of Institutional Advancement. “If you don’t need it, or don’t use it, you can donate it.” For Drexel, each item has monetary value, and the sale of your gift could provide funding for a student in need, classroom resources or assist with facility upgrades. Additionally, noncash assets are tax-deductible.
Host an Alumni Event Do you ever miss the camaraderie you felt when you attended the iSchool? You can rebuild that sense of community by opening your home for an alumni gathering. Alumni events serve as opportunities for graduates to reconnect with classmates and/or to meet members of different classes. For those who completed the iSchool’s online program, these events are chance to meet with fellow graduates in
alums who answer questions about the benefits of an iSchool education, share their experiences during and after the iSchool, offer career and resume advice, and more. Through your participation as a mentor, you can help current students expand their networks and reach their goals. Alumni mentors are selected by the Board of Directors of the IST Alumni Association and matched with students on an individual basis.
Be an Ambassador
person. A small tea, luncheon or dinner offers Drexel an opportunity to communicate with alumni and discuss what is going on at the iSchool and how you can help. These events also give you the opportunity to expand your personal and professional network. iSchool graduates work in a variety of settings as entrepreneurs, software developers, librarians, CIOs and beyond. As your network grows, so do your career opportunities. The iSchool encourages alumni to host events that bring together iSchool graduates in their region.
Become a Part of Our Alumni Mentoring Program The iSchool at Drexel teaches students the skills they need for successful futures in information science and technology, and its tradition of excellence is based on a sense of history, innovation, and a strong sense of community. The iSchool’s mentoring programs offer support beyond the walls of the Rush Building, creating lasting relationships. The iSchool’s Alumni Mentoring Program pairs prospective, undergraduate and graduate students with successful iSchool
There’s nothing more simple than being an iSchool Ambassador. All you have to do is spread the word! Students note time and time again that one of the top reasons they decided to look at Drexel as an option for college is that they knew an alum who shared his or her experiences. The iSchool attends many conferences every year to reach out to students considering iSchool programs and careers, but
Above: Ken Garson, MS ‘80 and Jeanette McVeigh, MS ‘82
we know prospective students want to hear from you. Through classroom visits, networking at conferences, participating in iSchool open houses or simply connecting your coworkers with the iSchool to help them advance their careers, you can have an impact. For more information about any of these programs, please contact Director of College Relations Brenda Sheridan at email@example.com.
The iSchool is EVERYWHERE! Alaska
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ALUMNI (Where they live now) FACULTY (Where they have studied) STUDENTS (Each dot represents approximately 5 students)
Behind the Scenes
“One of the things we’re seeing in education is a ‘cultural shift’ in the way students become engaged and a scaffold within Blackboard that incorporated student participation and peer review. The end result is a wiki-based learning community through which students communicate with one another, post papers and discuss readings. Dalrymple said through this tool, students learn not only through coursework, but also from each other. Additionally, as she follows the wiki and makes her own contributions, she is also able to evaluate how well students are learning the material and focus her teaching as necessary. At the end of the term, students can export the wiki onto their personal computers so they can later reference the resources they created as a community.
Shortly after she began teaching at the iSchool, Delia Neuman, Associate Professor and Director of the School Library Media Program, knew she wanted to do something to enhance her online courses. She just wasn’t sure what that something was. “This was all new to me,” she said. “I had never taught online before. I had a lot to learn about Blackboard,* let alone utilizing additional technology in more sophisticated ways.” She soon discovered that adding new, engaging and more technologically enhanced content to her courses would be easier than she initially thought. Utilizing the expertise and equipment available at the College’s iStudio, Neuman was able to add a different level of interactivity to her courses, recording short two- to three-minute “audio extras” to accentuate her online lectures. This personal touch has been very well received, especially by those non-local students who may never have the opportunity to meet their professor in person. Neuman intends to further develop these audio extras and explore other ways to enhance her courses with the iStudio. A recent report by SRI International for the U.S. Department of Education, “Evaluation of EvidenceBased Practices in Online Learning,” notes that as online courses have become more prominently used in recent years, it has become clear that the addition of tools that encourage interaction and collaboration have a significant impact on learning outcomes. At the iSchool, the iStudio, headed by the College’s Instructional Multimedia Designer Colin Saunders, the iStudio serves to enrich course development, offering instructors new options that can be used in the classroom and online to grow their curriculum and provide opportunities for engagement.
As the College continually strives to augment students’ educational experiences through innovative tools and state-of-the-art technology, the iStudio is playing an increasingly important role, linking curriculum development with technologically enhanced solutions. “Often, faculty would like to enhance content with technology, but don’t have the tools, time or expertise to produce a deliverable that fully meets their needs,” said Saunders. “The iStudio is an environment in which we work with these tools in the context of course goals. Faculty come to the table with a basic idea, we develop a plan, come up with the ‘how to’ and work together to make it happen in an effective manner. The main key is to keep it both simple and short in the beginning and then expand after we’ve seen some success.” Saunders holds a Master’s in Educational Technology from Lehigh University. He developed the iStudio based on four cornerstones: course enhancement, student engagement, learning outcomes and faculty development. With these cornerstones in mind, Saunders works either one-on-one with instructors or in groups to find the very best ways to complement course content. “When I first came to Drexel, I had taken online courses but had never taught any,” said Research and Teaching Professor Prudence Dalrymple. “Colin introduced me to new techniques from the very beginning.” When Dalrymple began developing a new course for the spring term, Saunders helped her implement features that enhanced its delivery within the Blackboard environment. First, they discussed learning and teaching goals. From these goals they developed
Along with creating a more dynamic classroom, faculty can develop new models for instruction. Photo by: Albert Yee
The iStudio Enhances iSchool Courses Online and On Campus
“It’s a problem-solving experience,” Dalrymple said of working with Saunders. “It wasn’t that I had a course that I thought was broken, but had decided that I wanted to accomplish something more. I went to Colin for suggestions on how to do that. The result was a community of learning.”
“What’s most important for me is to foster interest among students,” said Assistant Professor Lisl Zach. “The more I can do to engage them, the better.” An added benefit to utilizing different technology, especially in online courses, is that it caters to different learning styles. Because the iSchool’s online courses are asynchronous, written materials are the primary format through which lectures and information are disseminated. Zach says that because students all absorb information differently, it’s important to add variety to classes. “It benefits students to give them options of how and where they get information,” she said. “Audio clips, video clips, instructional Web pages — it’s important to give them something to do rather than just giving them something to read.” After a new enhancement is added to a course, Saunders and the faculty member survey students to figure out whether it was an effective learning tool, and adjust their use of that tool accordingly. The goal,
he emphasizes, is not to simply stick new media haphazardly into a course, but to add depth for students and give them a different sense of involvement and collaboration. “One of the things we’re seeing in education is a ‘cultural shift’ in the way students become engaged and how they learn,” said Saunders. “At the iSchool, we’re taking steps to be more innovative overall, because we’re servicing one generation that already understands and utilizes video and computers and another that may not have had as much experience with them. This isn’t meant to replace traditional methods, but to add different facets of ‘educational ROI’ (return on information).” * Blackboard is a Web-based course management system.
how they learn. At the iSchool , we’re taking steps to be more innovative overall.” Colin Saunders 13
Doctoral Students Discuss the iSchool’s Program in New PhD Video
Education: Bachelor of Technology in Information Technology, Maulana Azad National Institute of Technology, Bhopal, India Master of Science in Information Systems, The iSchool at Drexel Current Research Areas: Information extraction, databases, semantic tagging, search interfaces “The fun part is the surprise elements. You start looking for something and you end up finding more interesting and contributing results. This gives a sense of achievement. Also, the field is so new, upcoming and hot, and very much relevant to the current situation of the Web.”
Lily Rozaklis Education: Bachelor of Arts in History and Art History, State University of New York at Geneseo Master of Science in Library and Information Science, Syracuse University Areas of Research Interest: Human information behavior, reference and information services, and LIS education and the professional continuum “The doctoral students in the program come from a variety of professional experiences and academic backgrounds, including information science or systems, computer science, library science, philosophy and medicine. The iSchool seeks to cultivate a community of information scientists who will go on to serve an increasingly diverse and global society.”
You can read brochures. You can visit Web sites. But when you’re making as life-altering a decision as selecting a PhD program, sometimes the most valuable information comes from those experiencing the program firsthand. The iSchool’s new PhD video gives prospective
students the opportunity to learn about our PhD program from students, as well as faculty and alumni. During the video, PhD students discuss research opportunities, assistantships, the challenges of being a PhD student, as well as the strength of the iSchool’s program.
Opposite Page: Ritu Khare, Yuan An Above (left to right): Warren Allen, Susan Gasson; Eileen Abels, Lily Rozaklis; Kenneth Allendoerfer, Chaomei Chen
Education: Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy, University of Delaware Master of Arts in Liberal Studies, Georgetown University Areas of Research Interest: Social informatics, virtual worlds, information ethics “Information science is an intellectual pursuit as well as a practical field. The value of this is that even if I decide to spend some time in private research or industry instead of sticking to the academic field, the knowledge and experience from the PhD program will still be very relevant to my work.”
Kenneth Allendoerfer Education: Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, Carleton College Master of Arts in Psychology, State University of New York at Buffalo
MEET THE STUDENTS >
Current Research Areas: Usability and usefulness of information visualization systems “My favorite part of the research process is when you start to see signs of something interesting in preliminary analysis and then pursue the formal analysis to confirm your intuition. Sometimes the full data supports what you initially thought, sometimes not.” To see more of what these iSchool students have to say about the PhD program, request a copy of the new video at the iSchool Website: www.ischool.drexel.edu/PS/GraduatePrograms/requestinfo/dvd
As Seen on TV
The greenroom at the NBC10 Philadelphia studio is just that — green. Two couches seat guests for the station’s local morning talk show, “The 10! Show”, and the smell of a concotion by the day’s guest chef wafts in from the adjoining kitchen. As the audience begins to cheer, a production assistant pokes her head through the doorway. “Glenn, we’re ready for you.” iSchool Assistant Teaching Professor Glenn Booker stands and adjusts his tie. Just another day as the NBC Philadelphia affiliate’s iExpert.
This past year, relationships with NBC, Eastern Technology Council and the New Jersey
the opportunity to spread the word throughout the region: The iSchool is the area’s information science and technology expert. In May, that news spread nationally, when an NBC10 piece featuring Booker was syndicated and included newscasts in such cities as Fargo, N.D., Memphis, Tenn., Norfolk, Va., Tulsa, Okla. and Fairbanks, Alaska. While it is fun to be the face of the iSchool, it isn’t always easy, Booker says, especially when being interviewed on live television. “The toughest interview was when I was talking about protecting children from Internet content, and I tried to emphasize that you have to talk with them about types of content they will eventually come across,” he said. “Lori kept pushing for me to tell exactly what that conversation would sound like. I kept backing down, because it’s far too family-specific and age-specific. I got really nervous she wouldn’t let up, but eventually Bill came to the rescue and shifted the topic.”
Technology Council have given the college From the fall of 2008 through the spring of 2009, Booker took time off from teaching iSchool undergraduate students to teach the Philadelphia community about technology, answering questions about storing data, searching the Internet and cyber security, appearing regularly on the station’s morning program, The 10! Show. Since then, he has also been interviewed for news pieces about social networking, and the impact of technology on how people communicate. As an instructor, Booker is used to speaking in front of a crowd. He said he was flattered when first asked to be the iExpert, and honored to be the face of the iSchool on NBC10. However, he still felt some apprehension before his first appearance.
The iSchool at Drexel’s iExpert Glenn Booker7
Photo by: Albert Yee
“I had been in the audience of a live TV show before (Montel Williams, many years ago), so I had a vague idea of what to expect,” Booker said. “But the people at NBC were just wonderful — showed me the set, told me where everyone would sit, all that kind of stuff to make me more comfortable. I still had huge butterflies beforehand, though! It’s exciting and a little terrifying at the same time. Bill Henley and Lori Wilson were great, and led the discussion beautifully, so they moved mountains to make me look good.” As the College of Information Science and Technology, the iSchool has committed itself to providing its expertise outside the academic sphere and the walls of the Rush Building. This past school year, relationships with NBC, Eastern Technology Council and the New Jersey Technology Council have given the College
College the opportunity to spread the word throughout the region: The
iSchool is the area’s information science and technology expert.
But while he’s tackled difficult, and even controversial topics, he’s also discussed how the average computer user can be innovative with their systems, even if they lack the technical savvy of, say, an iExpert. In one show, he brought network hardware to the set, and taught viewers the basics of creating a home network. That episode, he notes, was the most entertaining. “It’s fun to have props to play with,” he said. Booker also has a newfound celebrity status to uphold. While he is modest about his television appearances, he does know that people are taking notice. “I’ve had a couple students, classmates and my professors comment on having seen me on TV,” he said.
On October 20, 2008, proceedings began. During the eight-week trial, iSchool at Drexel Assistant Teaching Professor T.J. Smith took the witness stand.
Smith is a Certified Computer Forensic Witness for the United States Federal Court. As such, his credentials were reviewed and he was approved by the case’s judge as a credible expert, able to give solid testimony related to computing evidence. During the Fort Dix trial, his first as an expert witness, his contribution was used in the defense of one of the accused. “I took the stand and was grilled by the federal prosecutors for about two hours,” Smith said.
Photo by: Albert Yee
During the past decade, computer forensics has come to play a more and more pivotal role in criminal trials. Digital evidence may be used to supplement a prosecutor’s argument or to weaken a case. Something as simple as an Internet search history or an e-mail can work for or against a defendant in a court of law. Smith said that as computer forensics has become more widely used in court, there are challenges the judiciary faces. It must be certified that data submitted as evidence came from a particular machine, and has not been tampered with by the investigator. Additionally, the materials must have been obtained in accordance with search and seizure laws. In order to provide a solid background and accurate information to a judge and jury, certified computer forensic witnesses are required to harbor a deep technical knowledge of all aspects of hardware and software systems and show evidence to a judge that they can appropriately analyze and interpret information.
The iSchool at Drexel’s T.J. Smith Takes the Stand in a Federal Trial It was a trial that had the makings of a television courtroom drama — an undercover investigation, confidential FBI informants, the allegations of conspiracy and a terrorist plot against an American military base, and conversations of jihad. The Fort Dix case captured international media attention and was widely followed by the public.
In the case of the Fort Dix defendant, Smith explains, the government had obtained the defendant’s computer and performed a forensic analysis, which revealed that during a foray onto the Web, he had looked at maps of central New Jersey, including Fort Dix and surrounding areas. The prosecution used this evidence to support their claim that the defendant was surveying Fort Dix for the purpose of planning an attack. As an expert witness, Smith examined the materials that the FBI had extracted from the defendant’s computer. He performed a visual analysis of the data, and wrote programs to recreate how the defendant had surfed the Web and come to look at those particular maps. His analysis had indicated the defendant had been searching for an auto-body shop in that area, which was how the map was pulled up, and that he had not searched for Fort Dix-related maps. “Because it was a jury trial, I had to constantly be aware that I was communicating with 12 people who, in all probability, had little computer background,” Smith said. “My experience with freshmen was very useful!”
“I took the stand and was grilled by the Federal After he presented his evidence, a computer forensic witness for the prosecution was called forth to rebut with his own analysis of the evidence. “I had the pleasure of hearing the prosecution’s forensic witness challenge many of my points. That was challenging, to say the least,” Smith says. This experience was Smith’s first as a Certified Computer Forensic Witness. While he has not taken on any additional work in the field since, Smith says that as more and more courtroom cases hinge on evidence obtained from the computers of crime perpetrators
and victims, such experts are increasingly important. The biggest challenge these witnesses face is putting technical issues into words that are understood by judges, lawyers and most importantly jurors — it is imperative that they have both technical expertise and an ability to convey that knowledge clearly and effectively. “The defendants in this case were on trial for their lives at the time of my contribution,” said Smith. “This is serious business!”
prosecutors for about two hours.” T.J. Smith
Like many person-to-person connections that develop in our social networking Web sitedriven society, iSchool Library and Information Science master’s degree students Peter Coyl and Katelyn Wolfrom met online. However, the two did not meet through a popular source, such as Facebook or LinkedIn. Instead they met through one of the iSchool’s resources for its students nationwide: the Graduate Peer Mentor Program.
Getting the Inside Scoop Graduate Peer Mentors Guide Current and Prospective Students
“I was looking on the Web site during the application process to familiarize myself with the program, and stumbled upon the Graduate Peer Mentor link,” said Coyl. “I read all the biographies, and found that Katelyn was in my program and that she was a commuter student like myself, so I decided to contact her. I had questions about faculty, when courses were offered, and how long the admissions process took. It was nice to get these answers from a fellow student.” Though they don’t share any classes, the two continue to keep in touch. The Graduate Peer Mentor program launched in the fall of 2008. Through it, current and prospective students who seek information about courses, would like to know more about student life, have questions about resources or are interested in learning more about the iSchool experience can connect with peer mentors who have been individually selected for the program by the College advisors. It also serves as a way for online students to make a stronger connection with their peers at the iSchool, notes Adam Gladsden, a mentor in the Master of Science in Information Systems program. An online student, he considers the peer mentor program to be an exceptional means for outreach, and said that it gave him the opportunity to network and meet new people, which coming into an online program can be difficult. “I was concerned about work/life balance and my chances for success with the limitations a full-time job would place on time dedicated to learning, studying and researching new material,” he said. Many students had similar concerns and questions. They declared a need for a Graduate Peer Mentor Program in the College’s Annual Student Satisfaction Survey, and iSchool administration took action. In the survey, students indicated that they needed a forum outside of the Blackboard learning management system through which they could connect with classmates specially chosen by the iSchool. iSchool Graduate Peer Mentors are chosen based on several factors. Students must maintain a cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher, have completed 12 credits, and complete an application and an interview in order to be considered for the program. Once accepted, mentoring responsibilities include participation in iSchool graduate student events, either online or
It serves as a way for online students to make a stronger connection with other students at the iSchool. on campus, serving on the iSchool Student Advisory Board, monitoring the Blackboard site’s “Ask a Mentor” board, and being reasonably available to answer student questions via e-mail and/or Instant Messenger. Students receive a scholarship of up to $1,000 for their commitment. Beyond that, it is an opportunity for students to give back to the College and help their fellow classmates, which was exactly what Gladsden sought to do. “I wanted to share some of my experiences as a fulltime student in the MSIS program with both prospective students and enrolled students, to assist in making better informed decisions about the program and to help enrich the current students experiences while they are here,” he said. “I would highly recommend the program to current and prospective iSchool students as a great way to get a spectrum of insight from varied experiences in different programs.”
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The GI Bill’s Yellow Ribbon Program Drexel University is proud to participate in the GI Bill’s Yellow Ribbon Program. Through a partnership between the federal government and Drexel, the University will match the government’s contribution to the cost of education, allowing eligible veterans to attend Drexel with no out-of-pocket expenses. Drexel is among a small group of universities with no cap on the number of veterans meeting University admissions requirements who may enroll.
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