Thursday, September 25, 2014

Where Does Information Systems in the University?

Greetings from the the University of NSW Canberra, where I am attending the ICT for Development Symposium. I thought this was going to be about how ICT could be used to help developing nations. However, so far it seems to be about where Information Systems (IS) fits as a discipline within academia and what forms of research are acceptable in the discipline.

At ANU Information Systems is within the College of Business & Economics, and at University of Canberra the School of Information Systems & Accounting is within the Faculty of Business, Government & Law. These are separate from the computer science and engineering faculties. Being a computer science practitioner, who deals with some governance, environmental and development issues, I don't see how academia could be divided up into neat unchanging atomic units. There needs to be overlap and change.

The question of what forms of research are acceptable seems a curious choice of topic for an event attended by experienced researchers. I can understand that new graduate students need training in different approaches to research, but this is a topic for a compulsory graduate course (such as "Research Methods in Distance Education" at Athabasca University), not a symposium.

At the end of the day I asked if the last speaker thought that interpretive research had particular benefits for ICT for development. They seemed to be reluctant to say it was relevant, which seemed odd, as they were speaking at a conference on ICT for Development, so why were they there?

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