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Student Success Support Model

What are your thoughts on what makes an effective student success support system that is suitable for the current and future needs of college students?

Can you share your ideas and/or provide feedback on what is missing from the proposed approach I have provided below? This model aims to meet student success (academic, career readiness, preparation for life (citizen), and well-being. Thank you.

Version 2 based on suggestion – Emphasize/separate direct face-to-face connection with staff.

Version 2.
Version 1.

ACPA/NASPA Technology Competency for Professional Development

The technology competency in the latest ACPA/NASPA Professional Competencies(2015) and the corresponding rubric provide student affairs practitioners and administrators guidance on effectively learning and applying technology in their roles as educators and programmers for student success. In addition, the two documents are also useful to the same groups regarding self-directed and formal professional development.

In my role as student affairs IT director, educator, and student affairs administrator, I was very interested in technology competency when it became available and how it could be applied to my organization and for my personal learning. I’ve offered my thoughts in this blog post.

I found the competency and the rubric to be useful for the following reasons:

1) I’m able to identify areas I need to pursue. For example, most of my experiential learning and training has been mostly on “technical tools and software” and “data use and compliance” so when I planned my schedule for the NASPA national conference in San Antonio next week (March 10-15), I purposely planned my schedule to attend sessions on “digital identity and citizenship” and “online learning environments”.

2) As I defined areas I need further development, I began exploring other learning methods. For example, most of my education when it comes to technology over the last three years has been through my job and also through kindle books. This year, I discovered videos and have completed seven data governance and security courses.

3) The techniques and mindset I have developed through the technology competency have also led me to apply them in other development areas beyond technology. I recently completed a 10-course series on people management certification via the University of California online learning system.

4) Given the lessons learned from my experience in applying the competency and rubric, I am developing a training curriculum for our division of student affairs based on the competency and rubric with the support of our Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.  I hope that by next year’s NASPA conference, we will have implemented the curriculum and presented our experience so other student affairs practitioners and administrators may consider using the competency for their institutions.

Dr. Josie Ahlquist, and I presented via webinar (Infusing The New Student Affairs Technology Competency Into Practice) last month on how the competency could be applied in graduate programs, student affairs organizations, and professional development. Part of the presentation focused on using the competency framework for professional development. I offered how I have used and plan to use the competency and the rubric to guide my learning. Using Excel, I created a template that lists learning activities, when I would pursue them, the format, and which areas of the technology competency rubrics these activities fulfill. The template also provides a link to the rubric.

Attached is the Excel file I developed, and please feel free to modify them for your use. Click on the image to download the file.


I look forward to how other institutions and student affairs professionals apply the competency and rubric. If you or your institution have used these tools, I would love to learn more about them.

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.


The Need for a Common Higher Education Data Model

In the current state, the ability of 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 (the ability to move data from one system to another) I shared in this post is an even bigger constraint. That there is not a single common structured data model in higher education is one of the big impediments to 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 at our university and the inability of these systems to easily exchange data among them. These systems include electronic medical records, student information systems, residential management systems, judicial conduct, and other systems. I observed that these systems could not interface with each other because they were either created by different vendors or our developers developed them. These different systems also did not share a common data model or infrastructure, making it easier for our developers to readily build programs to exchange data without developing additional programs to extract, transform, and load (ETL) the data.

Recently, I noticed different vendors’ efforts to develop/implement their versions of structured higher education data models and infrastructures. I haven’t delved into the details of each model/infrastructure to discuss how they are implemented. Still, 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 organizations, 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 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 its effort to standardize education data through a Common Education Data Standards (CEDS) project. This project seems to be more abstract in that the data model is not designed specifically for any set of vendor products. Still, 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, 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.

We are moving in the right direction with the efforts I mentioned above, though we are still years away from having a set of common data models that all higher education institutions can use.

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 a holistic assessment of student success and provide services such as advising that use curricular and co-curricular information.

The Benefits of Building/Managing Your Digital Reputation

Reputation can be defined as people’s perceptions of a person’s character. In the realm of digital space, including social media, reputation is built on 1) the content a person produces or shares (tweets, blog posts, photos, videos, …) and their interactions with others (digital footprint) and 2) what others share about a person (digital shadow). Eric Qualman coins the terms digital footprint and digital shadow.

This post is about some of the benefits I’ve received by having an intentional digital presence through my blog, Twitter, LinkedInInstagram, Pinterest, Goodreads, Slideshare, and Facebook.  When I joined the social media platforms I mentioned a few years ago, I could never have imagined the folks I would meet, which led to professional collaborations and opportunities that have come my way. I’ve also developed some friendships along the way. I share the following list to illustrate how a person such as myself, who, in my opinion, is no different than most folks in my professions (student affairs, higher ed IT), can benefit from having a positive presence online.

  • Elected as NASPA Technology Knowledge Community Chair (2017-2019).
  • Hired as a consultant by two universities to lead an external program review team.
  • Co-present sessions on social media at a couple of conferences.
  • Invitation to NASPA Technology Summit in Washington, DC.
  • Invitation to contribute an article to NASPA Leadership Exchange Magazine.
  • Invitation to co-author a chapter on Student Affairs technology.
  • Accepted as an assessor to a UC Leadership program based on my blog posts about leadership.
  • Invitation to speak to student affairs grad students on digital reputation.
  • Invitation to be a guest on a podcast to talk about student affairs technology.
  • Opportunities to speak on digital reputation and alternative professional development for multiple groups at UCSB.

When I share my perspectives online, I’m not always sure how others receive my message. Even with the best and clear intentions, my messages are received in many ways. Given that realization, I’ve developed principles that guide how I present myself and interact with others online. Some of my main principles include:

  • Be honest.

When folks, including my Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs, our campus CIO, my colleagues, students, my family and friends, and other professionals I respect follow me on social media, I better be consistent and honest with what I share.

  • Be kind in how you relate with others.

Even when I’ve disagreed with others, I always try to maintain respect as I would like to be treated with the same kindness. One of the limitations of social media is that one does not get the full context of what is being shared or how a person may act.

  • Aim to provide value to others.

I started primarily writing about my personal and professional interests with my blog. I’ve found my blog to release my frustrations related to my experience as a person of color and share my visions of what I think student affairs and technology may hold in the future.  While I still primarily write for myself, I’ve found that others do relate to the topics I write about. I get messages from folks who tell me how a blog post prompted them to re-frame their thoughts or how they can relate to my experience, specifically about racism and discrimination.

Another way I’ve found myself to be of value is by connecting folks from different circles of my life. Just like I do in conferences or parties, it’s fun to be able to introduce friends and colleagues who may share interests and then gently step away so they can have the space to continue the conversation themselves.

I do have some missteps from time to time, and I don’t always follow my principles; I’m human, but I strive to apply the principles I mentioned above.

I hope my post has convinced you (if not already) that building/maintaining a positive digital presence does have some benefits. Please let me know if I could provide you with some ideas on getting started.

How about you? How are you managing your digital presence, and what principles do you use?

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