Category Archives: Technology

ACPA/NASPA Technology Competency for Professional Development

The  technology competency in the latest ACPA/NASPA Technology Competency (2015) and the corresponding rubric provide student affairs practitioners and administrators guidance on how to effectively learn and apply technology in their roles as educators and programmers for student success. In addition, the two documents are also useful to the same groups when it comes to self-directed and formal professional development.

In my role as student affairs IT director, educator, and student affairs administrator, I was very interested with the 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 have 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 to explore other methods of learning. For example, most of my education when it comes to technology the last three years have been through my job and also through kindle books. This year, I discovered Lynda.com videos and I have completed seven courses in data governance and security.

3) The techniques and mindset I have developed through the technology competency have also led me to applying them in other development areas beyond technology. Just recently, I 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 in the process of 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.  My hope is that by next year’s NASPA conference, we would have implemented the curriculum and present our experience so other student affairs practitioners and administrators may consider using the competency for theirs institutions as well.

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 for professional development. Part of the presentation focused on the use of the competency for professional development. I offered how I have used and how I plan on using 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.

personal_plan

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 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.

 

 

 

The Benefits of Building/Managing Your Digital Reputation

Reputation can be defined as other 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). The terms digital footprint and digital shadow are coined by Eric Qualman.

This post is about some of the benefits I’ve personally 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 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 on 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 some principles that guide how I present myself and how I 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 other folks, I always try to maintain respect as I would like to be   treated with the same kindness myself. 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.

With my blog, I started primarily writing about my personal and professional interests. I’ve found my blog as a way 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 after all, but I do 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 do have some benefits. Please let me know if I could provide you some ideas on how to get started.

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

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.