[Asis-l] GSLIS to Develop New Specialization in Sociotechnical Data Analytics (SODA)

Ashwill, Cynthia Jayne cashwill at illinois.edu
Tue Jun 19 16:24:00 EDT 2012

The Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS) at the University of Illinois has been awarded a Laura Bush 21st Century Librarian Program grant from The Institute of Museum and Library Services totaling $498,777 to create a specialization in Sociotechnical Data Analytics (SODA) within both the master's and doctoral degrees.

"One of the exciting aspects about the SODA education program is the dual emphasis on social and technical aspects of data analytics," said Associate Professor Cathy Blake, who will serve as principal investigator on the project. In addition to the mathematical modeling that typifies data analytics, students who graduate from the GSLIS SODA program will also understand the social, ethical, and policy aspects of big data. "That combination will make students uniquely prepared to fill the growing workforce gap in people who can effectively manage and analyze big data-a gap that, according to The McKinsey Global Institute report on Big Data, will culminate in a shortfall of 1.5 million data-savvy managers and analysts by 2018," she said.

The SODA research group was formed in 2010. The group, which includes faculty members Jana Diesner, J. Stephen Downie, Miles Efron, Brant Houston, Jerome McDonough, Vetle Torvik, and Michael Twidale, is part of the Center for Informatics Research in Science and Scholarship (CIRSS), where Blake serves as associate director. SODA research explores how to best design, develop, and evaluate new technologies in order to better understand the dynamic interplay between information, people, and technology. Group members conduct research in information retrieval, data and text mining, knowledge discovery, social computing, collaboration, and most recently network analysis.

"I am thrilled that we will now be able to formalize an educational program that mirrors the outstanding faculty research," Blake said. "In addition to our faculty, we have some great partners who will enable us to better integrate real-world data sets into the classroom, and augment the classroom experience with a hands-on practicum and projects where students work side-by-side with scientists and business analysts."

The new program will complement an existing Specialization in Data Curation led by Carole Palmer, GSLIS professor and director of CIRSS, as well as the Certificate of Advanced Study in Digital Libraries led by Jerome McDonough. "SODA is just one more piece in the evolving constellation of programs that give the next generation of information professionals the expertise they need to thrive in the information age," said Blake.

Cindy Ashwill
Assistant Dean for Communications
Managing Editor, Library Trends and GSLIS Occasional Papers
Graduate School of Library and Information Science
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
325 Urban Outfitters Building (UOB), 507 E. Green Street
Mailing Address: 501 E. Daniel Street, MC-493
Champaign, IL 61820-6211
Telephone: (217) 244-4643
Fax: (217) 244-3302

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