Dr. Sameh Al Natour’s research into the ways humans interact with technology may sound futuristic, but it’s rooted in services that many of us already use every day. “The technology exists but our research is still before its time,” he says. “A lot of the difficulty we find in a lot of our experiments is still the ‘wow’ factor.” Dr. Al Natour uses a behavioural research approach to examine how people are affected by technology, including the use of online virtual health advisors. He joined the Ted Rogers School of Information Technology Management in 2015. Here, he tells us about the advantages of TRSM’s urban location, the “truer diversity” of TRSM students, and how TRSM supports his cutting-edge research.
University in the Heart of the Business World
“I live in downtown Toronto and I love walking up Bay Street and seeing the morning rush on the way to my 9 am class. You look and say, ‘Hey, there’s the Google headquarters on Richmond Street — we were talking about Google in class the other day. Or ‘Hey, there’s RBC or TD Bank, today we’re talking about them in class!’ We talk about things that are relevant, versus going to school at an isolated campus. Here, you’re right within the business environment.”
“Universities are actually about what happens after university. Students are graduating and going to work in these offices, so it’s a huge advantage to be right among these businesses.”
A Truer Diversity
“There is a truer diversity at TRSM. What I’ve noticed in other places is that when students do group work, people from the same ethnic background tend to group together. I don’t see that here. It’s almost like the diversity here is moot. You don’t actually feel it because it’s seamless – it’s just the norm.”
“I assign a weekly case analysis with reflections and ask students to write something in five minutes, but they go overboard! They set the bar really high. I am always impressed by the way they integrate their work experiences into their reflections. They come from really diverse work backgrounds, from restaurants to small businesses. With students at other schools who don’t have that work experience, it might be more difficult for them to relate because they don’t have the context. Here, they’re young, but they have the work experience.”
A Forward-Looking Approach to Research
“What I like about Ryerson and TRSM is the realism and forward-looking approach. In my first month, I had meetings with Dean Steven Murphy, Associate Dean for Research Kelly MacKay, and Ozgur Turetken, the Director of the Ted Rogers School of Information Technology Management, and each of them asked the same question: ‘What can I do for you?’ Every university talks about being focused on research but here I see it. We get the emails about research success and support and there are so many that it’s almost getting to the level of spam! [Laughs]”
“Many researchers here use a more behavioural approach, whereas a lot of others in the field use modelling or quantitative approaches. So my research fits nicely within the skill set that is available in this building. We also have the Social Media Lab, and while my research is not strictly social media, it fits within the context of the type of research being done there.”
The Sky is the Limit
“I’m really excited about starting to introduce new courses for students. ITM 707: Strategy, Management and Execution is an innovative, new approach for Ryerson. This is the first time it’s being taught. It’s purely case-based, with no midterms and nothing to memorize. Even the final exam is case-based. It’s a completely new approach for the students. I would also like to build up our capability to increase participation in case competitions.”
“The sky is the limit. It’s an evolving environment that isn’t static, and that’s exciting.”
Ready to pursue a cutting-edge degree in an evolving environment? Check out the Ted Rogers School of Information Technology Management to learn more.
Are you a current TRSM student or thinking of joining us in the future? Share your TRSM story with the hashtag #ThisIsTRSM.