Head of the Department of Information Science – Prof Ina Fourie
Welcome to our Department of Information Science
The School of Information Tecnology (SIT) comprises of our Department of Information Science, the Department of Computer Science and the Department of Informatics. Our Department, with the other departments in SIT, is an iSchool.
The information explosion together with developments in technology have led to the convergence of traditional communication media and turned the Information Era into a web of integrated communication connections and opportunities to access and share information. This integration of paper publications, broadcast media and the web, and the Fourth Industrial Revolution, have given rise to a whole new generation of opportunities and careers and necessitates the training of information intermediaries and content producers. You can become part of this highly competitive and futuristic environment by enrolling for one of our exciting degrees. Become an information specialist, competitive intelligence professional, knowledge manager, multimedia developer or publisher. You can also explore many other opportunities that will open up from postgraduate studies at the honours, masters and doctoral level where we aim for research that will make a difference in society, addressing global challenges and dynamic technological developments.
Our Department offers the following programmes
Three programmes are offered at undergraduate level:
- BIS (Information Science) – Develop skills in the management, organisation and retrieval of the most important resource of an enterprise – information and knowledge.
- BIS (Multimedia) – Prepare for the development of IT solutions for which one requires both creativity and logical thinking. Multimedia consolidates technology, art and design.
- BIS (Publishing) – Participate in training aimed at a new generation of publishers who create information products to fulfil the leisure, learning and instructional needs of readers both locally and internationally.
All our programmes are also available at postgraduate level (honours, masters and doctoral). We have dedicated staff who, through on-going research and local and international collaboration, keep abreast of new developments in our specialised fields of study.
The three departments of the School of Information Technology (SIT) Computer Science, Informatics and Information Science joined forces in 1999 to offer a joint coursework Master's programme, the MIT, which has since then evolved into four MIT degrees: the two degrees offered by the Department of Informatics, MIT Information Systems, a research masters, and MIT ICT Management, a coursework masters; MIT Big Data Science, a coursework degree offered by the Department of Computer Science; and MIT ICT Information Science, a coursework degree targeting the next generation library and information professionals (LIS) offered by our Department of Information Science. All three departments are involved in the three coursework degrees.
Our MIT ICT Information Science (coursework) started taking shape when our Department was awarded a grant by the Carnegie Corporation of New York to offer a Master's programme for qualified librarians from academic libraries from specified sub-Saharan African countries, for the period 2011 – 2014, focussing on knowledge and skills in ICTs, viz. then known as the M.IT Stream B programme. Since 2015 this became a self-sustaining programme. It makes use of a blended and hybrid teaching model, using technology-mediated lectures through audio-conferencing and the University of Pretoria (UP) learning management system. The Department was also awarded a second grant by the Carnegie Corporation of New York to offer eight four-week residential continuing professional development (CPD) programmes for qualified librarians from specified countries in sub-Saharan Africa, for the period 2014 – 2016, focussing on hands-on ICT skills. The training took place in Pretoria.
Our department places great value on the research done by all our researcher, our academic staff, including our young researchers for whom we provide support to help develop their careers as young academics, our research associates, and our master’s and doctoral students. We organise our research in five research focus areas, viz.: Information and knowledge management and competitive intelligence; Information behaviour, organisation and retrieval; the Meta-context of information; Multimedia; and Book and Publishing studies. Our staff are very active researchers, publishing widely in international and local accredited journals, presenting many papers at international and local conferences, and producing many other research outputs of a high international standard such as a textbook on navigating information literacy and various internationally published titles for the scholarly and professional communities. Staff regularly travel abroad for research visits. Through our research and teaching we have built up a wide international network of collaborators. Staff serve on the editorial boards of many international and national journals and are active in the management structures of a number of local and international scholarly organisations.
Exxaro Chair in XR (Extended Reality) Technology
Our Department of Information Science, Department of Mining Engineering, and Exxaro have come together to establish the Exxaro Chair in XR (Extended Reality) Technology. Thanks to Exxaro, one of the top five coal producers in South Africa and a constituent of the JSE’s Top 40 index, and the initiative and hard work of Prof Ronny Webber-Youngman and Mr Jannie Maritz from the Department of Mining Engineering, as well as Mr Koos de Beer from the Department of Information Science, the Exxaro Chair in XR (Extended Reality) Technology has been established. The University of Pretoria supports research to challenge the obstacles associated with the 4th Industrial Revolution. Researching XR technology, as part of a strategic intervention in dealing with mining-related challenges, is one of these initiatives. The all-pervasive nature of XR technology and its applications is evident, and its relevance for mining-related challenges will now be explored, to optimise the resources of companies like Exxaro.
African Centre of Excellence for Information Ethics (ACEIE)
Our Department also hosts a research centre, the African Centre of Excellence for Information Ethics (ACEIE) which was headed by Dr Coetzee Bester and an enthusiastic team of colleagues until 2020. In 2007, a group of international academics in the fields of Information Science, Information Technology, Philosophy and Politics came together to form an academic network to do research on Information Ethics. This network is now known as the African Network on Information Ethics (ANIE). ANIE identified a gap in the academic representation of the African continent on the global stage, specifically pertaining to Information Ethics, and therefore started organising events to stimulate research on Information Ethics in Africa. The result of these activities and international collaboration has led to a partnership with the South African National Department of Communications (the DoC), the United Nations Education, Scientific and Culture Organisation (UNESCO) and various universities across Africa. This collaboration contributed to the establishment of the African Centre of Excellence for Information Ethics (ACEIE), funded through a grant from the DoC for the period 2011 – 2017. Since 2018 the ACEIE was involved with and supported by the UNESCO IFAP activities in 22 African countries, all the BRICS countries as well as some focused activities in the Global-South region. In 2021 and 2022 the focus will fall on establishing new connections (national and international) and focus areas such as the role of libraries in information ethics, addressing the needs of marginalised groups and educational trends in information ethics in a post-pandemic society.
VRI-laboratory (Virtual Reality and Interaction)
We are excited by our Virtual Reality and Interaction VRI-laboratory which is an initiative within the Department of Information Science at the University of Pretoria in South Africa. It concentrates on using XR (extended reality) technology to create interactive user experiences for various applications. The main aim is to use commercial XR technologies to create user-centred solutions for complex problems from both academic and industry perspectives.
Come and join this exciting new world of Information Science in all its facets where we are focusing on academic and research capacity building and nurturing innovative and creative minds keen to address 21st century challenges.