This month marks my tenth anniversary of my career in the Internet. It was ten Januarys ago that I went back to school for Humber’s Internet Management program. Shortly, thereafter I began writing monthly travelogues for Bootsnall.com. The rest is mystory. After ten years’ of working and studying in the Internet almost few of the companies or programs remain. I don’t think this is attributable to my kiss-of-death presence, but the still rapidly evolving nature of the Internet.
In this blog posting I’ll look at my educational experience for the Internet. Subsequent posts will talk about Internet companies and organizations.
It is a shame that Humber’s Internet Management program shut down. It was rolled into the multimedia program, but seems to have lost the management component. The program, as far as I can tell, is unique in Ontario for teaching how to manage all aspects of managing a company’s Internet business and communications efforts. Too many programs teach web design or programming distinct and isolated from the overarching business requirements or overall environment. For example, web design has to work well with web writing, but I don’t see too many programs teaching both. Humber’s postgraduate (open only to university or college graduates) program was ideal for laying the groundwork for Internet management career by teaching programming, server management, graphic and site design, web writing, online marketing and promotion, and multimedia and interactive content production. One didn’t become an expert in all these areas, but they are crucial aspects to know if one is running Internet efforts. Still, to this day I met a lot of Internet professional that lack sufficient knowledge in these areas. The only reason why this program shut down is that I presume that management positions are developed through people’s work experience now. Back in 1999, there weren’t a lot of people with years of experience, so the program was particularly valuable and certainly helped me get my first producer position within a few months of graduating.
Another good Internet program that I took that has shut down and has not been replaced or merged is University of Toronto’s Strategic e-Business program. The program required students to learn some business fundamentals (marketing and accounting) and e-Business foundational concepts such as Internet business models and underlying technologies. There were also courses on moving business processes online and issues in cyberlaw. It was a useful program for those managing or implementing e-Business. It definitely helped me when I was a business lead for implementing a client-direct online transactional site.
Again, I'm not sure why this program shut down. I've heard that we are now at the point where the "e" no longer applies to fields as online components are so mainstream now – so e-Health is just Health, e-Learning is just Learning, and e-Business is just Business. The problem with this is that there Internet technologies, models and user behaviour is not so standardized as to not merit special attention. Again, I have met people working in these areas lacking sufficient exposure to key areas, so I do think there is still a need for these types of programs.
When I decided to do my master's there wasn't any options to study the Internet directly and few to study it indirectly. In the end, I decided on Royal Roads University's Communication program as not only was the field broad enough to encompasses a lot of what's happening on the Net, but also it was delivered in part through e-Learning and I thought it would be a good opportunity to be learn first hand about this huge aspect of the Net. There was one class at Royal Roads on human computer interaction that encompassed a lot of Internet issues. However, in all my classes professors were open to allowing me to tailor almost all my coursework to Internet topics (most of which were posted here). I did some research on folksonomies, social media, usability, website accessibility, intranets, and online music legal issues.
As for doing a doctorate, there really isn't anywhere in Canada that specializes in the Internet, the closest would be Simon Fraser’s School of Interactive Arts and Technology or various communication or information studies programs. In general, I find Canada is not keeping developing adequate programs in this area at a graduate or undergraduate level.
I'd love to hear any feedback on the state or needs of education for Internet professionals and scholars.