Author Archives: Joe Sabado

Social Justice and Information Technology

Social justice and higher education information technology (IT) are two topics that are typically not associated or discussed. However, given the impact and the role of information technology in the daily lives of students (as well as prospective) and the campus community at large, social justice as a lens on how information technology are designed and implemented should be given more consideration. Social justice, in the context of this post, relates to distributive and procedural. Tyler and Smith (1998) define distributive justice as “distribution of limited goods and resources based on principles of equity, need, or equality” and procedural justice as the “influence during the decision-making process.” As information technology professionals, we have the obligation to ensure the systems we implement are designed in a way that promotes access to higher education and enables students to be successful in graduating and meeting their goals in attending college. We have the obligation to think beyond our privileges (race, ability, socio-economic background, education, etc) and think about the impact of the systems we provide  may have on those who are from under-presented and disadvantaged communities.

As I think about my experience as a first generation college student in 1991, the process of choosing which school to attend,and how intimidating and confusing the admissions application (including financial aid) was back then, I only wonder how much more complicated the process is now for students and their families. Not only do they need to understand the application process in itself but they must also navigate through multiple websites to get the information they need to make the decision which school to attend, submit their application, apply for financial aid, reserve orientation session, apply for housing, and many more steps depending on their backgrounds. Even at our university, I must admit that we can and need to do better in consolidating/integrating our websites (currently with different navigation, design, information structure) so applicants should not have to access several websites during the application process. I brought up the situation above because it relates to the topic of access to higher education. I think about how many students from low socio-economic status (SES) backgrounds with low digital literacy are disadvantaged by how confusing the systems are which could lead them to potentially give up or they provide wrong information which may lead to negative consequences in the future.

Another population that may be disadvantaged by careless design/implementation are students with disabilities. Websites that are not designed with accessibility in mind have negative impacts on these students. Imagine having a blind student complete an application form on a website that is not accessible. Not only would it be frustrating for the student but it also prevents them from completing the required process to be admitted to the university. In another example, what if a disabled student cannot use a  website form to provide personal/medical information for accommodation (notetaking, proctoring) that may prevent them from receiving the services they need to compete and succeed academically?

With regards to procedural justice, I cite examples of judicial affairs and financial aid information systems to highlight the importance of information systems in providing a fair process. Students who are accused of academic and/or behavioral misconducts and must go through the judicial process are in critical moments in their lives. As such, judicial affairs officers and those involved with the case must have all the required and accurate information to make a fair determination of the outcome. Imagine a poorly implemented judicial affairs system that incorrectly presents wrong information about the student to the judicial affairs staff? What if that incorrect information was used to make the determination of the outcome?

I also mentioned financial aid information system as another system that may impact procedural justice. As it is with the judicial affairs information system above, financial aid officers must have the required and accurate information to make the proper decision on whether and how much financial aid to award to the students. Given the high cost of college attendance (tuition, room & board, books, etc), the amount of financial aid offered may mean the difference between a student even attending college or staying home. As such, every information available to financial aid officers must be accurate and readily accessible.

The examples provided are just too of many I can cite to illustrate the impact/role of information technology as it relates to social justice. As I mentioned above, social justice and information technology are often not discussed nor the association between them. However, as information technology professionals responsible for providing these systems, we must be aware of how these systems impact the students and to make sure they promote access to higher education and enable students to succeed.

Reference:

Taylor, S.H. “The Impact of College on the Development of Tolerance.” NASPA Journal, 1998, 34, 281-295.

My Professional Reading List 2015

thumbAnother year of professional growth and learning. As a significant of my time went to my MBA (IT Mgmt Specialization) course work in 2015, I was not able to devote as many hours to reading about other topics I enjoy such as higher education and student affairs. Nevertheless, I still managed to enjoy reading the books below. As it was with my professional reading lists of 2013  and in 2014, the majority of the books below are kindle books I read through my iphone and ipad. The beauty of mobile learning. Please feel free to ask me for any recommendations.

Business & Productivity

Change and Innovation

Higher Education / Student Affairs

Information Technology

Management/Leadership

Technology

 

 

Student Affairs Digital Technology for Student Success

How does digital technology contribute to student success? To answer this question, one must first define what student success means as a singular definition seems to be elusive when I’ve asked higher education professionals on social media and on my campus. Cuseo (n.d.) offers some commonly cited definitions which include:

  • student retention
  • educational attainment
  • academic achievement
  • student advancement
  • holistic development

The last definition, holistic development, is the idea that a student develops as a “whole person” and they include multiple dimensions. These dimensions include development in the following areas: intellectual, emotional, social, ethical, physical, and spiritual.

Academic and co-curricular programs, student services, enrollment management services, and other administrative services offered by higher ed institutions are aimed studentlifecycleto support and promote student learning, development, and success.Throughout the entire student life cycle from prospect to alumni stage, technology is used by staff and faculty to communicate and engage with student and for administrative operations and technology is used by students for activities inside and outside the classroom as well.

 

WCET (2002) classified student services offered for online learners in the following categories:

  • academic services suite
  • communications suite
  • administrative core
  • student communities suite
  • personal services suite

While technologies have changed and new ones have been introduced since 2002, the general categories as described above are still applicable today.

At UC Santa Barbara, digital technology has become an integral part of how student affairs and the campus provide effective student services in all phase of the student life cycle and in the student services categories above. Just some of the online services offered at UCSB include the following:

Admissions’ Applicant Status Portal:

Applicants are able to 1) view the status of their application, including personalized messages and a checklist of the steps to enrollment, 2) submit an SIR (Statement of Intent to Register), with eCheck (ACH) payments, and a trigger to creation of the student record, 3) update personal information, and 4) navigate to different web sites outside of Admissions (such as Statement of Legal Residence and Financial Aid Status) without having to re ‐ authenticate.

Electronic Medical Records (EMR) System:

Counseling Center and Student Health Service uses the Electronic Medical Record for client/patient scheduling, reporting, case notes, client surveys and holistic student healthcare. The system is also used for practice Management, electronic health records (EHR), medical claims processing, insurance management and reporting.

Transfer Evaluation and Articulation System

The ‘Transfer Evaluation and Articulation System’ is part of a suite of ‘Progress to Degree and Advising’ applications. It is used by Admissions’ staff to apply UCSB transfer articulation rules to incoming coursework, to evaluate the coursework as transferable or not, to adjust or limit unit amounts, to set course indicators and attributes, such as repeats and honors, to apply courses toward General Education requirements as exceptions, and to produce a ‘New Student Profile’ audit report (using the DARS ‘Engine’ (see ‘Darwin’) behind the scene) and archive it as a snapshot of the student’s status toward General Education and University requirements completion at the time of matriculation. TEAS is mostly commonly known for creating New Student Profiles and Credit Memos.

Financial Aid Portal:

The My Aid Status Financial Aid Portal allows students to manage their financial aid, including viewing their FAFSA status, downloading dynamically ‐ generated documents required for processing financial aid, viewing their award letter, accepting student loans, viewing the history of disbursements from the billing office, and printing Federal work ‐ study referrals.

Graduate Education Application Review (AppReview) System:

This system is the staff/faculty counterpart to the online student application. This system is used by academic department and Graduate Division staff to administer applications, and by faculty to review and score incoming applications. Using this application, department staff can modify applications, categorize and otherwise prepare applications for review by faculty, and submit application decisions to Graduate Division. AppReview also supplies the administrative capabilities for department staff involved in financial recruitment offers. Such features include nominating applicants for the Central Recruitment Fellowship Competition, reviewing award results for the same, and reviewing NSF Extension awards. Graduate Division staff use this application to process admissions decisions, review/approve admissions exception requests, manage/reconcile application payments, and review fee waiver requests.

Gaucho Online Data (GOLD) Student Portal:

Gaucho Online Data (GOLD) is used by over 22,000 current and former UCSB students, and provides them the ability to: view their schedules, important deadlines, messages, grades and academic history; find and register for classes; manage their enrollment on course waitlists; update contact information;  view new student profile and transfer credits; perform automated progress checks and degree audits; order official and unofficial transcripts.

A more comprehensive suite of information systems are found in Student Information Systems & Technology Information Systems Portfolio.

Moving forward, the effective use of digital technology in student affairs must take into account the changing demographics of the students as well as the staff and faculty and their needs and expectations of how they use technology and the availability of services offered by institutions. With social media, cloud, mobile, wearable computing, and internet of things, students and staff are now expecting technology to provide them access to their information anytime and anywhere. Student affairs practitioners,higher ed staff, and faculty in general must develop technology competency, like the one offered by ACPA and NASPA as part of the Professional Competency Areas for Student Affairs Educators to utilize the benefits offered by technology in ways that are ethical and secure . Senior Student Affairs Administrators and other campus administrators must be play a more active role in managing and leading the use and investment of information technology. Research and scholarship which reflects the realities and possibilities of the digital world of higher education, including this dissertation by Dr. Josie Ahlquist Developing Digital Student Leaders must also drive and inform student affairs practice.

References:

Cuseo, J. (n.d.). South Carolina. Student Success: Definition, Outcomes, Principles and Practices. Retrieved December 9, 2015, from https://www2.indstate.edu/studentsuccess/pdf/Defining%20Student%20Success.pdf

Shea, P., & Armitage, S. (2002). Western Interstate Commission for Higher Education. Retrieved December 9, 2015, from http://files.eric.ed.gov/fulltext/ED536193.pdf

 

Student Affairs Org Technology Leadership Competencies – MindMap

What are the competencies required to be an effective student affairs technology leader at an organizational level? This is a question I pondered while reviewing the Technology Competency Area within the ACPA/NASPA Professional Competency Area for Student Affairs Educators. I specifically mentioned “at an organizational level” because managing/leading the appropriate/effective use of technology at the divisional level is different from one who is leading the efforts at the national or individual levels. There are competencies required to running effective organizations and coordinating technology use at the divisional level. So, I combined the outcomes as defined within the Technology Competency Area and my experience leading a student affairs IT department and produced the mind map of what I view as competencies required to be an effective student affairs technology leader at an organizational level.

sa_org_tech_leadership_v1

What other competencies should be included? Thanks!

 

Thoughts on ACPA/NASPA Technology Competency Area

It seems every time I review the technology competency area, one of the newest areas in the ACPA/NASPA Professional Areas for Student Affairs Educators, I develop a greater appreciation of the efforts and thoughts that went into defining the competency and the outcomes. As an advocate for effective use of technology for student development, learning, and success, I have high hopes that the technology competency area will have significant impact in shaping how we, as student affairs educators, will adopt, utilize, and assess/evaluate technology within student affairs now and in the future. At the same time, I have this sense of worry that while the technology competency area finally exists, we actually don’t know what to do with it. I don’t want them to be just words on some document that folks will look at once and forget they even exist. In a way, it’s ironic, maybe this isn’t the right word, that while technology is an essential part of student affairs, it’s still being treated like an add-on responsibility and qualification. Just recently, I reviewed several job posting for Senior Student Affairs Officers (SSAO) positions on higheredjobs.com and found that only 1 out of the 21 job postings I reviewed even had the word “technology” in the responsibilities and qualifications sections.

While reviewing the technology competency area and the outcomes once again this evening, some thoughts and questions came to mind as to how we can make effective use of the technology competency as listed below.

  • Development of the different components of the technology competency requires continual learning and application. Training alone is not enough. Student affairs professionals must have the opportunities to apply and develop the competency in our daily work.
  • No single person has all the skills and knowledge of all components of the competency (theories, technology, practice) so partnership with campus colleagues (scholars, practitioners, IT professionals) must happen for professional development and collaboration opportunities to develop the outcomes.
  • Senior Student Affairs Administrators (SSAOs) must embrace and promote the ideologies and concepts behind the technology competency and therefore, they must commit resources for staff and their organization to develop the competency. They themselves need to model effective use of technology.
  • Stop talking about the competency and start practicing the outcomes.

Questions:

  • How do as we as a profession in general, and at the national and campus levels effectively promote the technology competency?
  • How do we assess and evaluate the level of technology competency? What common tools would be required to do this? How do we perform formative and summative assessments?
  • How do we promote the technology competency and show relevance to daily work?
  • How can we integrate the technology competency in the daily work of student affairs professionals so they’re not just additional things to learn?
  • Who will be the leaders/educators promoting these competencies and how will they themselves gain the skills/knowledge to be able to teach these competencies? Are their professors at SAHE graduate programs who have these skills/knowledge/background? Are technology courses even part of core courses in SAHE graduate programs?

What are your thoughts on the ideas and questions I posed above? How about the technology competency in general? What are you doing personally to develop the outcomes for the technology competency?