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Online, Offline, and Out of Line. The interplay of emerging technologies, higher education, and student development at Vermont State University A Presentation to the University Deans’ Council by: Jessica Belue, Director of Student Life Jonathan Bove, Chief Information Officer

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Online, Offline, and Out of Line

The interplay of emerging technologies, higher education, and student development at Vermont State University

A Presentation to the University Deans’ Council by:

Jessica Belue, Director of Student Life

Jonathan Bove, Chief Information Officer

Erin K. Miller, Director of Judicial Affairs

Gabriel Reif, Director of Admissions

[A submission for the 2007 StudentAffairs.com Online Case Study Competition from the University of Vermont]


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In the past six months, at VSU…

  • Students with disabilities and low-income students have struggled with access to distance learning courses and courses utilizing on-line forums

  • Faculty have begun to incorporate blogs in their classroom work

  • A student was found responsible for using her cellular phone to receive answers to test questions during a final exam

  • Institutional spam has decreased by 15% due to novel institutional policies

  • A laptop containing 90,000 detailed alumni/ae records was recently stolen


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Session Objectives

  • Familiarize staff with “hot topics” in technology

  • Recognize and understand the numerous benefits and drawbacks of such technologies

  • Utilize VSU and nationwide technological mishaps and successes as case studies, assisting us in developing policy and practices

  • Prepare staff to respond to technological issues within their functional areas


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Technology and Our Mission

  • VSU’s institutional mission outlines that we engage students and support them in their development

  • Students come to campus already familiar with many emerging technologies

  • We must incorporate these technologies into our work so that we can meet students where they are and provide them with optimal support and opportunities for development


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“Hot Topics” We Will Highlight

  • Institutional Spam

  • Text Messaging and Other Cell Phone Capabilities

  • Information Security

  • Blogging

  • The Digital Divide



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Institutional Spam Is…

  • The mass e-mailing of the campus community (all faculty, staff, or students)

  • Institutional spam is not…

    • E-mails sent over voluntary listservs

    • E-mails sent to small campus groups (e.g. biology majors, a student organization, a faculty committee)


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Why Institutional Spam is Important to Understand

  • Many parties demand access to campus-wide e-mail privileges

  • Institutional spam filtering enhances productivity of all campus constituents

  • Lack of policies and procedures can result in confusion


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VSU Policies for Institutional Spam

  • Administrative approval required

  • Submission one working day before the message is to be sent (unless it is an emergency e-mail)

  • Accordance with the mission of our institution

  • Compliance with federal and state laws


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VSU Procedures for Institutional Spam

  • The IT office monitors mass e-mails

  • Requests for mass e-mails can be made on the Web

  • The following officers may approve mass e-mails:

    • President: mailings to entire university

    • Provost: mailings to all faculty

    • Vice President for Finance: mailings to staff

    • Deans: mailings to faculty and/or students of college

    • Vice President for Student Affairs: mailings to student body


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Benefits ofInstitutional Spam Policies

  • Help us avoid viruses and network overload

  • Streamline campus procedures to ensure consistency, clarity, and understanding

  • Avoid e-mail inundation; ensure campus constituents read necessary e-mails

  • Prevent third-parties from sending campus-wide e-mails

  • Ensure messages to large audiences are in accordance with the mission of the university


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Drawbacks of Institutional Spam Policies

  • Change in technology will require that we continually reevaluate our policies and procedures

  • Some university offices who want control may not have immediate control (e.g. registrar)

  • Collaboration among involved parties can be difficult. IT will be the gathering point

  • University assumes responsibility for what messages are or are not delivered



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Text Messaging Is…

Sending short messages to a [cellular phone], pager, PDA or other handheld device. Text messaging implies sending short messages generally no more than a couple of hundred characters in length.

(P.C. Magazine’s pcmag.com, http://www.pcmag.com/)


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Why Text Messaging is Important to Understand

  • Text messaging is one of the many features available on today’s cellular phones

  • 80% of first-year students at colleges nationwide have cell phones (Student Monitor, www.studentmonitor.com)

  • Additional capabilities:

    • Record and view videos

    • Capture and view photos

    • Download and listen to music

    • Record and listen to audio notes

    • Locate one’s position and download maps (GPS)

    • Watch TV shows/movies


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“Texting” & the College Campus: Issues to Consider

  • Academic Integrity

  • Safety

  • Marketing & Communication


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Text Messaging: Academic Integrity

  • Drawbacks:

    • December 2002: Cheating scheme uncovered during final-exam week at the University of Maryand, College Park. A dozen students were caught (Wired News, http://www.wired.com)

    • In 2005, a 9% increase in cheating was reported over the previous year due to mobile phone use (Curtis, 2005)

    • In the United Kingdom, the number one cited cheating offense is inappropriate use of mobile phones (Curtis, 2005)

    • Examples of inappropriate use may include taking pictures of exams with camera phones, or storing notes or formulas in phones


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Text Messaging: Safety

  • Drawbacks:

    • A New York Post survey found that 30% of teens age 13-18 have engaged in unhealthy stalking behavior via text messaging (Delfiner, 2007)

    • Text messaging enables the exponential increase of students involved in large-scale campus incidents via instantaneous communication

  • Benefits

    • Text messaging allows individuals to remain connected to others at all times, even when alone


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Text Messaging: Marketing & Communication

  • Benefits:

    • Baruch College - CUNY has started a service that allows people to access class information easily through text messages (e.g., homework assignments, computer lab availability, course surveys)

    • University of Maryland Student Government (2005) sponsored Mobile Campus, a text messaging service that allows students to receive campus updates from student organization leaders, faculty, and administration. (Carnevale, 2005)



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Information Security is…

  • The protection and management of crucial data

  • One can repeatedly read in the Chronicle of Higher Education of security incidents where data was lost or stolen

  • Colleges are repositories of personal information, and this makes them prime targets of identity thieves

    • Students, as a group, are less likely to keep diligent track of their online bank accounts

    • Alumni/ae, as a group, are more likely to be considered rich targets because of the assumption that they have money to give away


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Why Information Security is Important to Understand

As our campus stores more and more personal information electronically, our data becomes a higher profile target for hacking, phishing (fake e-mailing), and information thieves

You may not think you’re a target, but that most likely makes you more of one


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Steps to Heightening Our Information Security

  • Educate our staff

    • IT is launching a set of digital self-defense sessions open to all staff

  • Keep secret information secret

    • Switch to systems that use alternate identifiers, not social security numbers

  • Know each type of attack and how to defend against it

    • Hacking, viruses, and malicious software

    • Phishing: use of a fake e-mail or website as a lure

    • Physical theft


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Benefits of Heightened Information Security

  • Secure information and well-managed data prevent a loss of faith in the university

  • Every precaution we take individually improves the overall security of the entire campus

  • Awareness of the issue makes us more secure and savvy users


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The Not-So-Distant Future of Information Security

  • There is no single solution that protects against all threats

  • A layered defense is the best approach: one solution for each threat

  • Campus constituents must realize the need for and be educated to use each new layer of defense as it is added or updated



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A Blog Is…

  • A weblog or online journal commonly used to express personal, political, or scholarly opinion

  • Blogs are becoming increasing popular among college students, faculty, and admissions office



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Why Blogging is Important to Understand

  • Blogs have become infused in the work of the campus

  • Diverse users and uses on campus

    • Students

      • Using blogs to communicate and network

    • Faculty

      • Utilizing blogs for scholarly debate and publishing

      • Integrating blog use into student assignments

    • College admissions offices

      • Current students posting blogs to reveal student life on campus

      • Prospective and current students communicating through blogs


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Diverse Users and Uses of Blogs: Students

  • Sites like Xanga, Angelfire, Blogspot enable students to create blogs

    • Blogs are personal or shared, private or public

    • Students comment on one another’s blogs

    • Blog topics include anything and everything

  • Students use blogging as a way to journal and connect to their peers

  • Social networking websites like Facebook and MySpace have blog-like features called “Walls”


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Blogs and Students: Social Networking

  • Benefits

    • Facilitates communication between students, leading to the important development of mature interpersonal relationships (Chickering & Reisser, 1993)

    • Creates venue for open expression, dialogue, and “developmental friction”

  • Drawbacks

    • Potential distraction from more educational endeavors

    • Public blogs can be read by anyone; poses safety threat

    • Students unaware of what speech is and is not protected under First Amendment


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Diverse Users and Uses of Blogs: Faculty

  • Professors use the “blogosphere” as venue to post scholarly blogs, debate and exchange ideas

  • Faculty incorporate blogs into coursework for students


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Blogs and Faculty:Scholarly Blogs

  • Benefits

    • Serve as instantaneous publishing opportunities

    • Create connection between professors and wide public audience

    • Expedite academic discourse that could take years through other media

    • Provide faculty a venue to establish reputation in discipline

  • Drawbacks

    • Blogs viewed by many as superfluous and inappropriate for academic work

    • Content can have negative impact on non-tenured faculty or individuals seeking employment


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Blogs and Faculty: Incorporating Blogs into Coursework

  • Benefits

    • Familiar medium available to many students

    • Introverted students comfortable with asynchronous nature of blogs and become invested in education, thereby improving their experiences (Astin, 1984)

    • Professors have easy access to submitted work

    • Convenient forum for student interaction and out-of-class discussion

  • Drawbacks

    • Access to and fluency with blogs is not universal among college students

    • Blogs do not help writers interact (Krause, 2005)

    • Blogs not conducive for editing process (Krause, 2005)


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Diverse Users and Uses of Blogs: Admissions Offices

  • Admissions offices recruit current students to post blogs that reflect life on campus, targeting prospective students

  • Prospective and current students communicate through blogs


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Blogs and College Admissions: Recruitment

  • Benefits

    • Accessible and comfortable arena for many college-goers

    • Cost-effective recruitment tool

    • Forum for open exchange regarding all aspects of student experience

  • Drawbacks

    • Administrators lose control of often uncensored message being conveyed to prospective students


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The Not-So-Distant Future of Blogging

  • Enhanced role of blogs in instruction

  • Increases in e-recruitment

  • Expanded definition of “blog”

    • Audio blogs

    • Photo blogs

    • Video blogs



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The Digital Divide Is…

  • Harvard University Political Scientist Pippa Norris (2001) describes three main components of the digital divide:

    • The global divide between the countries with commonplace Internet access and those without

    • The social divide in each country of those with access and those without it

    • The democratic divide between those who use technology to participate in public life and those who do not


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The Digital Divide Is…

Michael Bugeja adds a fourth component, an “interpersonal divide” that “concerns the social gap that develops when individuals misperceive reality because of media overconsumption and misinterpret others because of technology overuse.”

(2005, p. 6)


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Why Digital Divide Is Important to Understand

  • Students without computers lack convenient access to a growing number of blended courses (featuring an online component) and online university systems (registration, finances, etc.)

  • Without access to social networking Web sites and cellular phones, students may have difficulty generating social capital and connecting to their peers


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Implications for A Socially Just Educational Climate

  • Emerging educational technologies enhance learning opportunities for many students, while widening the gap for traditionally underrepresented groups:

  • Van Dusen elaborates:

    There is a more ominous consequence of these new education opportunities. [They present] a new set of barriers for the traditionally underrepresented in higher education because computers are less likely to be in the schools and homes of low-income families (2000, p. 11).


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Age

Income

Gender

Lack of computer and technology training

Household type

Physical disabilities

Learning disabilities

Geography and access to the internet

Potential Barriers to Access

These barriers not only impact student success in traditional learning environments but also limit the access of these groups to the online classroom and its associated virtual communities.

(Van Dusen, 2000, Novak & Hoffman, 1998 )


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Bridging the Divide: Suggestions for VSU

  • Ensure faculty awareness of the implications of limited technological access for their students

  • Extend hours for campus computer labs

  • Offer sections featuring both blended and traditional instructional methods for all required university courses

  • Include optional training on Web-based university systems during New & Transfer Student Orientation



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What Can You Do?

  • Contact us to present to your department

  • Attend workshops sponsored by the IT department

  • Stay up-to-date on emerging trends:

    • Talk to students

    • Consult literature

    • Experiment with new technologies


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Works Cited

  • Astin, A. W. (1984). Student involvement: A developmental theory for higher education. Journal of College Student Personnel, 25, 297-308.

  • Bugeja, M. (2005). Interpersonal divide: The search for community in a technological age. New York: Oxford University Press.

  • Carnevale, D. (2006, October 6). E-mail is for old people. The Chronicle of Higher Education [Online version]. Retrieved February 17, 2007 from http://chronicle.com/

  • Chickering, A. W., & Reisser, L. (1993). Education and identity (2nd ed.). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

  • Curtis, P. (2005, April 15). Pupils use mobile phones to cheat on exams. The Guardian Unlimited. Retrieved February 15, 2007 from http://education.guardian.co.uk/

  • Delfiner, R. (2007, February 9). Tech stalking: Teen epidemic. The New York Post. Retrieved February 15, 2007 from http://www.nypost.com

  • Krause, S. D. (2005, June 24). Blogs as a tool for teaching. The Chronicle of Higher Education.

  • Norris, P. (2001). Digital divide. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press.

  • Novak, T. P. & Hoffman, D.L. (1998). Bridging the digital divide: The impact of race on computer access and internet use. Retrieved November 17, 2005 from http://elab.vanderbilt.edu/research_papers.htm

  • Student Monitor. Retrieved February 16, 2007 from http://www.studentmonitor.com/

  • Text Messaging (Definition). P.C. Magazine Online. Retrieved February 16, 2007 from http://www.pcmag.com/

  • Van Dusen, G.C. (2000). Digital dilemma: Issues of access, cost, and quality in media enhanced and distance education. ASHE-ERIC Higher Education Report 27(5). Retrieved November 2, 2005, from ERIC

  • Wired News. Students Called on SMS Cheating. Retrieved February 16, 2007, from http://www.wired.com/news/school/0,1383,57484,00.html


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