John Antill – Student Spotlight

What degree are you pursuing at the KSU iSchool?

Master of Science in Knowledge Management

Tell us a little bit about your academic and/or professional background and area(s) of focus.

Joined the military in 1998 as a Marine Firefighter. Learned a lot about the way different groups of people shared their ideas to allow firefighters to better and more safely complete their jobs. People worked with industries to identify areas that would be safe for firefighters to cut, bend, and work on. I got out of the Marine Corps in 2002 and started working contracts in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Knowledge there was shared for contracts, but nothing else. I returned to the States as I was completing my Bachelor of Science in Public Safety Administration. I graduated with honors as being part of the national honor society Alpha Chi with Summa Cum Laude distinction. I joined the National Guard as an Officer and it wasn’t until I went to FT Gordon and met Keith Davis that I realized what the fire departments were doing was knowledge management and I wanted to do more, as it enabled people to work faster and better. I deployed to Afghanistan in 2012, where I developed a way to do training online for the Information Management Course, which allowed soldiers to have elevated rights on computes. 

I moved to Augusta,GA in 2013 and worked at the Cyber CoE for a year. I picked up a contract working at Joint Force Headquarters Cyber (Army) in Nov 2014 and have been with them since. I wanted to better myself in knowledge management so I started on my degree in 2018. I went to the Army qualifier School for KM, Joint Enabling Capabilities Command, and took the certificate courses at KM Institute for the Certified Knowledge Manager (CKM), Certified Knowledge Specialist in Knowledge Transfer and Information Architecture, and finally i did a project to receive the Master of CKM.

Professional affiliations:

VFW,  American Legion, Signal Corps and the Signal Regimental Association, Cyber Regiment

Describe recent project(s) or research that you’ve been working on.

I am working on two projects to finish my degree. One is a research paper about a process to better classification and data transfer in the army. It will create a cost avoidance of $20,572,774 in manning hours with an average salary of $100,355 annually.

The second project I am working on is Crisis Management Calendar deconfliction. It goes over the different products and processes to align meetings with the business objectives to avoid wasteful meetings.

What iSchool class(es) have you enjoyed the most?

I’ve enjoyed the UX courses the most so far. The understanding of why a universal design is better than accessibility options. A well designed item will vastly outperform one that is designed around a specific needs group.

What issues related to information interest you most?

Shareability. It is one thing to find something you are looking for, but not to be able to access frustrates me.

Are there any websites, apps, podcasts or other resources you’d recommend other students explore?

Specifically no. What I would say is for every 2 podcasts, websites, apps, or resources you spend your time on, do 1 for fun. Life is a balance and too much of something you do not do for fun will set the precedence for your life. Find the balance of fun, work, and life to succeed.

If you had one superpower:

Time stop.

How do you like to spend time outside of work?

I like to ride motorcycles, swim, hunt, fish, and watch Sci Fi such as Dr Who.

How do you balance school with work and/or home life?

Since a true balance is never achieved, I try to make quality time with family since work is a straight amount of time. 

What career paths are you considering?

I am pursuing a way to increase Knowledge Management.

Do you have any other advice for other students?

Try to get all your homework and discussion areas done as early as possible, since you do not know what will come up for the weekend. Too many students wait until the weekend to do those and rush to get them done in time. 

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Say hi, thank you, and help out any chance you get. You never know if that is the next person to change your life.

Kendra Albright, Ph.D. – Faculty Spotlight

Tell us a little bit about your professional background and areas of focus.

Professional practice: I spent 15 years in professional practice, including my own consulting business.  My first job out of my MSLS was as Business Information Center Manager for a publishing company that published Esquire magazine; followed by six years at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), heading up an in-house consulting company that provided information professionals to work on dedicated single, long-term projects for scientists and engineers.

When I started my family, I worked part-time as the Chemistry Librarian.  Having never had a chemistry class in my life, I spent time with chemists in their labs, read textbooks, and attended multiple training courses in molecular structure searching at Chemical Abstracts in Columbus.  I learned lots from the chemists who loved to share their work (and letting me participate) in their experiments!

I left ORNL to head up a multi-year, multi-million dollar contract with a private company called Information International Associates, Inc.  There we abstracted and indexed up to 32,000 scholarly articles per year to enter into the Department of Energy’s Energy Science & Technology Database.  I also worked on contracts with the U.S. intelligence community and private business. I left to pursue my PhD.

My PhD research brought together my B.S. in Human Development (i.e., developmental psychology), my MSLS, and my PhD focus of Communications/Information Sciences with a concentration in Information Economics.  I investigated the economic, social, political, and cultural impact of information and communication technologies on global development.  Since then I have focused on the ways in which information changes behavior, beginning with a multi-study over several years in Uganda, to explore how they were successful in reversing the spread of HIV through behavior change.  My doctoral student at the time, Dick Kawooya, is from Uganda, and we were able to secure funding and a research team on the ground in Uganda, to complete multiple studies, the last one working with the Uganda AIDS Commission.  Ask me about it and I’ll tell you what we learned!

I then took what we learned and with my colleague, Dr. Karen Gavigan at the University of South Carolina, worked with incarcerated young men, ages 15-17, at the South Carolina Juvenile Justice Department to write a graphic novel about AIDS prevention specifically for African-American teens in the state which has one of the fastest growing rates of HIV increase in the U.S.  The result was AIDS in the End Zone, a story of football mayhem and treachery in a South Carolina high school.  It was written up in the New York Times and interviews were picked up by the press, including USA Today on their website.  We tested the knowledge gains of teens, ages 15-19, and found that it had a statistically significant increase in knowledge over materials created for teens by the CDC.

In my academic career, I’ve had the opportunity to live and work in three countries: the U.S. (U. of Tennessee, U. of South Carolina), England (U. of Sheffield), and Georgia (former Soviet Union – the Georgia Institute of Public Affairs).  These experiences have enriched my understanding of people; our similarities and differences.  Of all my professional and academic experiences, the knowledge I’ve gained from travel is the most valuable.  I strongly encourage students to pursue study or work abroad.

Describe recent projects or research that you’ve been working on.

As the recently appointed Goodyear Endowed Professor in Knowledge Management (KM), my focus is shifting to research in this area.  Currently, I am working with a team of researchers across the world; our original focus was to investigate KM programs offered around the world.  What we found when we started is that KM is a very fluid term and hard to define and measure.  We decided to take a step back and review a large amount of KM literature and develop our own understanding of what KM is, and the criteria that exist to define and recognize it.  We built a taxonomy to represent our collective understanding, which is currently being finalized.  Our next step is to refine our original criteria for identifying programs in KM so that we can proceed to catalog those programs around the world.  There are additional offshoots to this work that are also proceeding.  This is a long-term body of research that will benefit from the efforts of many people involved in the project.

What is your favorite part of teaching?

It is very easy to say that it’s working with the students.  But in order to do that well, developing a sound and interesting course is the best place to start.  So while it may not be glamorous, building a good course with the students’ interests in mind is a very important part of teaching.  Especially in an online environment, finding ways to convey knowledge that are both helpful and interesting is certainly a challenge!

Do you have a favorite teaching moment?

I do!  It happens when a student has been struggling with a particular issue and suddenly the light bulb comes on for them and you can see or hear it in their work, in their postings, etc.  That is what makes it all worthwhile.

How have your professional experiences influenced your teaching?

The best thing about having professional experience is that it allows me to give concrete examples to illustrate points for students and makes it easier for them to understand.

What issues related to information interest you most?

The answer to this changes day to day, hour by hour.  Our field is both expanding (i.e., interdisciplinary), and fragmenting (going in many different directions), making it difficult to choose which direction to go.  I believe students have a similar experience when trying to select their courses to take each semester, which is why having an advisor is really important.  My general interest is in understanding how information is used to improve the quality of life for all people.

Are there any websites, apps, podcasts or other resources you’d recommend students explore?

This year, there is a lot of focus on the role of information and professionals in contributing to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. See how information professionals are responding:

asis&t Annual Meeting 2020
IFLA: Libraries, Development and the United Nations 2030 Agenda
EBLIDA: SDGs and Libraries – First European Report
ALIA: Support the Sustainable Development Goals
Libraries Aotearoa: Libraries and UN 2030 Agenda SDGs
Informative Flights: SDGs in the Library
2017 Mortenson Center Associates

If you had one superpower:

Hahaha….not needing sleep!

How do you like to spend time outside of work?

During the pandemic, it’s just to get outside.  Biking, walking, hiking, tennis, anything that gets me moving is how I like to spend my time.

Do you have any advice for students?

Don’t be afraid to ask questions and speak your mind.  If you are in the MLIS profession, you are an advocate by choice.  Remember that advocating for freedom of expression and freedom of access to information are core to a democratic society and you play an important role in ensuring that freedom is preserved.

What class(es) are you teaching for Kent’s iSchool?

LIS 60030: People in the Information Ecology
KM 60304: The Information and Knowledge Economy

Is there anything else you’d like to share?

Have fun while doing good work.