Author Archives: Joe Sabado

Pokemon Go Phenomenon

A game that can alter people’s behaviors and routines is certainly worth investigating. Pokemon Go, a new Augmented Reality (AR) and geolocation game on mobile devices is such a game. It’s amazing to watch  students and even staff at the university I work at glued to their mobile devices and congregate around poke stops throughout the campus trying to catch Pokemons. Through social media and from conversations with other friends and colleagues, it’s been interesting to observe the different reactions to the game, both positive and  negative,  and the issues that have been raised about the game itself. Here are just some of the observations:

- The game has brought opportunities for some to interact with others they would normally not have any interactions with. A colleague of mine shared a text from his son describing how through the game, he has interacted with different people from different backgrounds throughout the city he lives in as he shared game strategies with those he met.

- Accessibility issues have been raised as a problem with the game. The premise of the game is for players to physically move to locations to collect Pokemons, battle at gyms, and  travel distances for eggs to hatch. Folks who are physically disabled are not able to participate causing these folks to be depressed and creating barriers for disabled players.

- The game also highlights some issues related to race and safety. This topic is poignant given the last few days wherein the country is facing issues related to race and violence. For Black folks playing the game, there is unfortunately the element of fear as they could be met with suspicions leading to lethal consequences.

- Many folks have also been observed driving while playing the game, which has introduced safety issue to both the driver and pedestrians as the driver of this car experienced.

- Privacy also became an issue as it was discovered that the game have full access to a player’s Google account.

- For some, the game has brought some benefits to mental and physical health. In addition, parents have also welcomed the game as it has provided their children incentives to go outside and get some exercise as well as the opportunity to spend time together as family.

- A few higher education institutions, such as Harvard and Maryland quickly adopted the game as part of their marketing and student engagement efforts. However, a concern raised by a student affairs professional about the use of the game for student engagement is that this creates equity issues for students who either do not have mobile devices or for those that do have mobile devices, the game does use cellular data, if not connected to wifi, which costs money.

As one who studies the adoption of new technologies in higher education, Pokemon Go may have just accelerated the acceptance of Augmented Reality given the mass appeal among the public and changed the AR landscape. Hololens by Microsoft and other Virtual Reality devices and software should benefit from the popularity of the game. The game also benefits other related markets including mobile device batteries (the game drains the battery significantly) and cellular data providers as well. I also see possibility of the use of heads up display (hud) devices like Google Glass and other wearable computing devices for this game instead of players having their heads down looking at their phone to catch Pokemons, which could lead to neck problems. That the game offers in-game purchases also benefit app stores like Apple. Finally, advertisers and businesses will find ways to use the game to market their services and/or attract potential customers to their locations.

Whether the popularity of Pokemon Go is short-lived or extends for a few months, the game has provided some welcomed entertainment and distraction from the stressful times we are in at this moment as a country.

 

My StrengthsFinder Signature Themes

I’d rather focus on my strengths than dwell on my weaknesses. It’s this personal trait/attitude I find personality assessments like StrengthsFinder appealing when it comes to learning more about myself. Recently, I took the survey as part of my organization’s effort to strengthen our abilities to collaborate and towards a better working community. Here are my top 5 signature themes.

Achiever. Your Achiever theme helps explain your drive. Achiever describes a constant need for achievement. You feel as if every day starts at zero. By the end of the day you must achieve something tangible in order to feel good about yourself. And by “every day” you mean every single day—workdays, weekends, vacations. No matter how much you may feel you deserve a day of rest, if the day passes without some form of achievement, no matter how small, you will feel dissatisfied. You have an internal fire burning inside you. It pushes you to do more, to achieve more. After each accomplishment is reached, the fire dwindles for a moment, but very soon it rekindles itself, forcing you toward the next accomplishment. Your relentless need for achievement might not be logical. It might not even be focused. But it will always be with you. As an Achiever you must learn to live with this whisper of discontent. It does have its benefits. It brings you the energy you need to work long hours without burning out. It is the jolt you can always count on to get you started on new tasks, new challenges. It is the power supply that causes you to set the pace and define the levels of productivity for your work group. It is the theme that keeps you moving.

Maximizer. Excellence, not average, is your measure. Taking something from below average to slightly above average takes a great deal of effort and in your opinion is not very rewarding. Transforming something strong into something superb takes just as much effort but is much more thrilling. Strengths, whether yours or someone else’s, fascinate you. Like a diver after pearls, you search them out, watching for the telltale signs of a strength. A glimpse of untutored excellence, rapid learning, a skill mastered without recourse to steps—all these are clues that a strength may be in play. And having found a strength, you feel compelled to nurture it, refine it, and stretch it toward excellence. You polish the pearl until it shines. This natural sorting of strengths means that others see you as discriminating. You choose to spend time with people who appreciate your particular strengths. Likewise, you are attracted to others who seem to have found and cultivated their own strengths. You tend to avoid those who want to fix you and make you well rounded. You don’t want to spend your life bemoaning what you lack. Rather, you want to capitalize on the gifts with which you are blessed. It’s more fun. It’s more productive. And, counter intuitively, it is more demanding.

Activator. “When can we start?” This is a recurring question in your life. You are impatient for action. You may concede that analysis has its uses or that debate and discussion can occasionally yield some valuable insights, but deep down you know that only action is real. Only action can make things happen. Only action leads to performance. Once a decision is made, you cannot not act. Others may worry that “there are still some things we don’t know,” but this doesn’t seem to slow you. If the decision has been made to go across town, you know that the fastest way to get there is to go stoplight to stoplight. You are not going to sit around waiting until all the lights have turned green. Besides, in your view, action and thinking are not opposites. In fact, guided by your Activator theme, you believe that action is the best device for learning. You make a decision, you take action, you look at the result, and you learn. This learning informs your next action and your next. How can you grow if you have nothing to react to? Well, you believe you can’t. You must put yourself out there. You must take the next step. It is the only way to keep your thinking fresh and informed. The bottom line is this: You know you will be judged not by what you say, not by what you think, but by what you get done. This does not frighten you. It pleases you.

Input. You are inquisitive. You collect things. You might collect information—words, facts, books, and quotations—or you might collect tangible objects such as butterflies, baseball cards, porcelain dolls, or sepia photographs. Whatever you collect, you collect it because it interests you. And yours is the kind of mind that finds so many things interesting. The world is exciting precisely because of its infinite variety and complexity. If you read a great deal, it is not necessarily to refine your theories but, rather, to add more information to your archives. If you like to travel, it is because each new location offers novel artifacts and facts. These can be acquired and then stored away. Why are they worth storing? At the time of storing it is often hard to say exactly when or why you might need them, but who knows when they might become useful? With all those possible uses in mind, you really don’t feel comfortable throwing anything away. So you keep acquiring and compiling and filing stuff away. It’s interesting. It keeps your mind fresh. And perhaps one day some of it will prove valuable.

Ideation. You are fascinated by ideas. What is an idea? An idea is a concept, the best explanation of the most events. You are delighted when you discover beneath the complex surface an elegantly simple concept to explain why things are the way they are. An idea is a connection. Yours is the kind of mind that is always looking for connections, and so you are intrigued when seemingly disparate phenomena can be linked by an obscure connection. An idea is a new perspective on familiar challenges. You revel in taking the world we all know and turning it around so we can view it from a strange but strangely enlightening angle. You love all these ideas because they are profound, because they are novel, because they are clarifying, because they are contrary, because they are bizarre. For all these reasons you derive a jolt of energy whenever a new idea occurs to you. Others may label you creative or original or conceptual or even smart. Perhaps you are all of these. Who can be sure? What you are sure of is that ideas are thrilling. And on most days this is enough.

If you’ve ever worked with me, are they accurate? What are yours?

 

 

My Professional Vision as Higher Education IT Leader (DRAFT)

How often, or have you thought about your core ideologies and your future as a professional? I personally haven’t myself but as I lead my organization through a strategic planning process and as I learn more about how to develop successful organizations, I began to think about how I could apply that process for me personally. Using ideas from a book by Jim Collins called “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies”, I came up with some initial thoughts below. It’s a work in progress and they’re a product of quick brainstorming tonight so I know they’ll evolve as I have more opportunity to reflect deeper about my purpose and aspirations. I’m also revealing some of my honest (and maybe flawed) thinking at this point in my life. Nevertheless, I’m choosing to share them with you with the hope of encouraging you to also think about your vision.

CORE IDEOLOGY:

Core Values:

  • Trust, respect, and value diversity and inclusion of ideas.
  • Deep value of community in the workplace.
  • Question status quo.
  • Lead through trust and collaboration.
  • Committed to helping and making other people’s lives better.
  • Treat people with dignity and respect.
  • Committed to life-long and continuous learning.
  • Find the goodness in others and help them fulfill their potential.

Purpose: To contribute to the betterment of the society by promoting student success in higher education through technology and mentorship. Student success means students develop as “whole person” while they’re at the university and to prepare them for their next steps which could include attending grad school, getting a job, or following their passions.

ENVISIONED FUTURE:

BHAG (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals):

To become one of the most recognized practitioner/scholar experts in the field of higher education as a result of successful and proven leadership/implementation of transformative practices involving technology leading to dramatic improvement of student success in higher education.

Vivid Descriptions

  • Together with researchers and scholars, will develop new theories or advance existing theories that reflect the current and future needs/interests of the diverse and changing higher education student demographics.
  • Together with researchers/scholars/practitioners/vendors/students/technology professionals, will design and develop common standards and shared services n higher education that will enable information systems across institutions the ability to easily interface with each other,  easy to implement, easy to use, and are learner-centered.

What are your core ideologies and envisioned future?

Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG)

dream_bigSetting big dreams is fun, isn’t it? My wife and I commute to work together and there are days when we talk about all the possibilities ahead of us. We figure it doesn’t cost us anything and if we’re going to dream anyway, we’ll dream big beyond our imaginations and beyond our realities as we see them now.

Personally, thee last few months have proven to be fruitful so far. Some of what I consider Big Hairy Audacious Goals (BHAG) have come/or in the process of becoming realities. BHAG is a term I came across from the book called “Built To Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies” by Jim Collins. The idea behind BHAG in this book is that visionary companies used bold and daunting missions to stimulate progress. I just recently read the book so I didn’t know this term even existed but it seems the goals I had set for myself would qualify as BHAGs. They may not be audacious goals for other folks, but these goals certainly are for me.

These personal BHAGs may not have been in the form I originally envisioned them to be, but nevertheless, they’re close to what I had in mind. In addition, some of these goals are personally scary for me. I figured I will just have to conquer my fears as I come across them. Another important note – these goals needed the help of other folks to make them happen! Without folks who believed in me and the ideas themselves, they would have never happened.

Here are some of my BHAGs that have become realities:

SA_Exec_TeamA seat at the Senior Student Affairs Officers (SSAO) table in my role as IT Director.  I became a member of my campus’ Student Affairs Executive Team in December. In this blog post, Case for Technology Leadership at the SSAO Table, I wrote about the values of having someone in a senior technology management role at the table who can bring technical expertise and perspective as strategic decisions are made.

A campus-wide IT leadership/management professional development program. With the support of our new CIO Matt Hall, we have begun planning for a campus-wide program to promote community-building as well as leadership/mgmt and technical training for IT professionals. Along with our CIO, we have a team consisting of IT Directors as well as HR managers that’s in the process of formulating our goals and program activities. This is an idea I had proposed on this blog post – Cohort-Based IT Leadership Program for Higher Education.

NASPA Technology Knowledge Community (TKC) Chair. This is a position that seemed out of reach for me and one that I may not be qualified for, given the significance and scope of the TKC. However, as mentioned in this post (Sharing Our Vision at #NASPA16: Updates from the TKC Chair), I think I can contribute to advancing technology in student affairs by broadening the scope of conversation and those involved in the discussions through the chair position.  With the help of an amazing team, the community members, and the current chair, Lisa Endersby, I can’t wait to see what we’ll do in the next couple of years!

A webcast on student affairs and technology. A couple of weeks ago, the opportunity to do a webcast finally happened with the webcast “What AVPS and Mid-Level Professionals Need to Know About Technology” with Eric Stoller and Stephanie Gordon. It was a challenge for me given that I am not always sure of how much I know about the topic and how I may come across on a live discussion when folks are watching from all places.

joe_before_afterLose 45 pounds in 10 months. Never in my wildest dream would I ever thought I’d accomplish this. After all, I’ve tried in the past to lose weight, but for various reasons, I just couldn’t make it happen. Here is a blog post, How I lost 20 Pounds in 3 Months, of what I found to work (written three months after I started the weight loss attempt).

 

 

As I had mentioned, my wife and I have a list of BHAGs and those shall remain a secret to us and who knows if they’ll ever come to fruition. It is fun though to work towards them and to think about the possibilities. Professionally, I see the next three years as potentially significant for me. With a mixture of luck, preparation, and with the help of many folks – I do hope they’ll happen.

What are you BHAGs?

Photo of goldfish with shark fin courtesy of: https://pbs.twimg.com/media/CZwxYtFWwAIclAj.jpg

 

The Need for a Common Higher Education Data Model

In the current state, the ability for higher education institutions to provide holistic assessments of student learning, development, and success and to provide comprehensive advising (using curricular and co-curricular data) and other student services using disparate systems is virtually impossible. This is because the interoperability between systems may be limited or they require IT staff/vendors to develop interfaces so that data can be moved between the systems through some form of files including text, xml files, or other means. In addition to the limited interoperability, the lack of data liquidity (ability to move data from one system to another) which I shared in this post is even a bigger constraint. That there is not a single common structured data model in higher education is one of the big impediments towards an environment where disparate systems within the institution can have a set of systems working together as one. Even a bigger goal is for multiple higher education institutions to have the ability to exchange information between their systems in cases where students may be attending both institutions or if they transfer from one to the other.

I wrote this blog about a proposal for a Common Learning Portfolio Markup Language in 2013 based on my observation working with several information systems our university and the inability for these systems to easily exchange data among them. These systems include electronic medical records, student information system, residential management system, judicial conduct, and other systems. What I observed is that these systems cannot interface with each other because they were either created by different vendors or they were developed by our developers. These different systems also did not share a common data model or infrastructure which could make it easier for our developers to readily build programs to exchange data between them without having to develop additional programs to extract, transform, and load (ETL) the data.

Just recently, I noticed efforts by different vendors to develop/implement their versions of structured higher education data models and infrastructures. I haven’t delved into the details of each model/infrastructures to definitively talk about how they are implemented but given my limited access and understanding of the data models, it seems these efforts by the vendors are specific to their set of products (and their partners, however that’s defined). In addition, these data models do not seem to include co-curricular information such as involvement with student organization, career internships, and volunteer activities.The links below provide information about these different efforts:

Oracle Higher Education Constituent Hub (HECH)

“Constituent data is distributed across the enterprise among various systems (e.g. HR, Student Information, CRM, and Learning Management) across the Campus and all University locations. It is typically fragmented and duplicated across operational silos, resulting in an inability to provide a single, trusted Constituent profile to business consumers. It is often impossible to determine which version of the Constituent profile (in which system) is the most accurate and complete.. The HigherEducation Constituent Hub (HECH) solves this problem by delivering a rich set of capabilities, interfaces, standards compliant services and processes necessary to consolidate Constituent information from across the institution. This enables the deploying institution to implement a single consolidation point that spans multiple languages, data formats, integration modes, technologies and standards.”

Salesforce Higher Education Data Architecture (HEDA)

“Leverage a newly established data standard and managed package to meet the needs of any institution. Institutions can continue to deliver value across campus by building on core objects, fields and automation and integrating with a growing number of Higher Education AppExchange apps that are standardized on HEDA.”

Ellucian Higher Education Data Model

In many industries standards already exist, albeit with only partial adoption. In the HE sector, however, Ellucian had a unique opportunity to start with a “clean slate” and to create something new…and so we created the Higher Education Data Modal (HeDM). HeDM is a defined standard to illustrate a uniform view of “the world”, so that users can view data and interact with each other. The data model itself creates a defined data object or entity, reaching all corners of an institution, covering Recruitment, Students, Finance, Advancement and beyond.”

The US government has also started their effort to standardize education data through a project called Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) project. This project seems to be more abstract in nature in that the data model is not designed specifically for any set of vendor products but rather more of a definition of a structured data model and the adoption is voluntary.

While education institutions across the P-20W (early learning through postsecondary and workforce) environment use many different data standards to meet information needs, there are certain data we all need to be able to understand, compare, and exchange in an accurate, timely, and consistent manner. For these, we need a shared vocabulary for education data—that is, we need common education data standards. The Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) project is a national collaborative effort to develop voluntary, common data standards for a key set of education data elements to streamline the exchange, comparison, and understanding of data within and across P-20W institutions and sectors.

It seems we are moving towards the right direction with the efforts I mentioned above, though it seems we are still years away from having a set of common data model that can be used by all higher education institutions.

As I noted in my introduction above, it seems to me that until a common structured data higher education data model that can be used as a standard exists, higher education institutions will not be able to develop holistic assessment of student success and to provide services such as advising that use curricular and co-curricular information.