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Technology and Higher Education: A Winning Partnership

Technology and Higher Education: A Winning Partnership. Ohio University Erin Genide David Derstine Leslie Jo Shelton Katie Knoll. Top 5 “Hot Topics” in Technology. Blogs Institutional Spam Instant Communication Virtual Worlds (Second Life) Online Learning Laptops iPod U

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Technology and Higher Education: A Winning Partnership

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  1. Technology and Higher Education: A Winning Partnership Ohio University Erin Genide David Derstine Leslie Jo Shelton Katie Knoll

  2. Top 5 “Hot Topics” in Technology • Blogs • Institutional Spam • Instant Communication • Virtual Worlds (Second Life) • Online Learning • Laptops • iPod U • Online Portfolios

  3. Blogs Description • A blog, or weblog, is a page one can create on the internet by writing, in a diary-like fashion, on any issues the user deems appropriate. • Once the blog is complete, the blog is published. • Published blogs can either be kept private or public. • Private blogs block access to any person who attempts to read the specific blog. • Public blogs are able to be seen and read by anyone who is interested.

  4. Blogs Importance • Blogs are an outlet which can be used as a tool for reflection, communication, and personal expression. • Blogs have been incorporated in many current applications which many students frequent, such as Xanga.com, Myspace.com, Blogspot.com, and Facebook.com. • More importantly, many higher education institutions have incorporated the use of blogs in daily operations in order to connect with students.

  5. Blogs Benefits • Blogs are very user-friendly and easily accessible. • There is minimal or no financial obligation in order to write, respond to, or view blogs. • When using blogs, there is the possibility of unlimited dissemination of information • Readers can submit a response as well as provide feedback to writers’ commentary • Blogs provide a means to bridge the gap among faculty, staff, administrators, and students.

  6. Blogs Benefits (cont.) • Instant sharing of information related to: • Academics, admissions, student affairs, general information related to university. • Examples include: • Office of Education Abroad posting deadline dates to submit travel grant applications • Professors posing a question related to class material in which students reply • Vice President for Student Affairs writing to students on goals for the university as well as asking students for their input related to those goals. • Users can remain anonymous by not submitting response as actual name, yet in the creation of a username.

  7. Blogs Risks • Reduction in human interaction • Verbal cues are not available, therefore, could lead to misinterpretation. • If personal information is shared (such as personal thoughts and feelings) and not correctly bookmarked as private, then others can read and use information at will.

  8. Institutional SpamDescription • Email is one of the most common forms of communication used by faculty, administrators, and students. • Often when information needs to be passed on to many parties, one mass email is sent out. • This mass email sent, even with good intentions, can be considered, “spam” or “unsolicited, undesired e-mail. Also used as a verb, spam is the e-mail version of junk mail,” as defined by The American Heritage New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. • It is important to consider the impact of spam on the university, and what policies are in place to send mass messages out to groups of students.

  9. Institutional SpamImportance • Mass messages may be sent from the university directly to inform students of upcoming events, reminders of policies, facilities issues, or in response to crises that occur on campus. • Sometimes specific student groups become the target for mass messages, some of these messages may be in regards to updates, reminders of meetings, newsletters, etc. • Some universities, or student organizations will set up a listserv where members of groups can sign up to receive messages, while other times, students receive emails regardless if they have signed up to receive them or not. • Often when universities or groups send out emails, the messages are sent as Blind Carbon Copies (BCC) so that everyone does not know who received the message. This is also important so that any replies to the message are sent only to the sender.

  10. Institutional SpamBenefits • One message can be sent to many people • Large messages can also be sent in e-newsletter formats so that many parties can collaborate to send out information • Increased resource efficiency • There is no cost to sending emails • Allows for faster updates for all parties involved

  11. Institutional SpamRisks • Impersonal messages • In considering Nancy Schlossberg’s “Marginality and Mattering,” how are students or staff feeling like they matter when one mass message is sent out to everyone? • Incorrect information being sent out • Recently, UNC Chapel Hill, UC Davis and Cornell University have all sent out letters congratulating applicants for their acceptance into the university, but all of their applications were still pending • How much information do people read. When many mass emails are sent out, it is like receiving junk mail and people may start ignoring the messages altogether.

  12. Institutional SpamRisks • Mass messages do not guarantee people will read the message. Some students do not use their university assigned email accounts, some do not check them regularly, and others will not use email at all. • Security concerns: • What kind of systems are in place to allow students or administrators to send messages? Not everyone should have access to every students’ email address. • Who is screening the content of what is being sent out? Viruses and or other inappropriate messages must be eliminated as much as possible.

  13. Instant CommunicationDescription • Instant Messaging Providers: • Such providers as AOL Instant Messenger (AIM) and Yahoo Instant Messenger allow users to have a written conversation with other users online. • Wireless Internet Connections • Many laptop computers have wireless internet capabilities, and often on college campuses wireless connection is available in many buildings. • Cell Phones: • Cell phones are used for a variety of purposes including video and text messaging, and internet connection. • Cell phones that are internet capable allow users to use instant messaging technology as well as any general internet usage.

  14. Instant CommunicationImportance • As technology continues to advance, the time it takes for one person to communicate with another is becoming more instantaneous. • Many students utilize various forms of communication such as those used through instant messaging providers, cellular phones, and wireless internet connections. • Students have become accustomed to instant gratification, and university officials should understand the mindset students have in communicating with one another.

  15. Instant CommunicationBenefits • Instant Communication allows for students and staff to be constantly updated with current information. • Instant messaging systems can be used at help centers, for example, in libraries and various other offices, to immediately respond to student concerns • Text messaging can be used to update students and staff about school closings and/or schedule changes • In comparison to email communication, instant messaging allows for faster response between the two parties. • By implementing instant communication methods campus- wide, faculty and administrators are utilizing a tool students are already familiar and comfortable using. • New features are constantly being added to cell phones, including video and picture capabilities, allowing students and staff to document everyday happenings.

  16. Instant CommunicationRisks • Text and instant messaging allow for the use of abbreviated words, such as “LOL” (laugh out loud), “Thx” (thanks), “ttyl” (talk to you later), and “jk” (just kidding). This shortened version of communication has allowed for the decrease in use of formal communication, both verbal and written. • Advanced technology has allowed for students to rely primarily on cell phones resulting in a decreased use of land lines. This could be an issue in terms of long distance charges incurred by the university when initiating contact with students. • Not all students have access to the same technology. Therefore, not all communication methods will reach the entire population.

  17. Second Life Description • Second Life is a 3-D virtual world created and owned by its residents. The population has grown to over 3.5 million users since inception in 2003. • Consists of a “mainland” where residents can interact with each other. • Residents can purchase private islands to build on and restrict access. • Resident identities are protected by having to select a last name from a common list that changes periodically.

  18. Second Life Description (cont.) • Universities could create a virtual campus identical to their physical one. • “Second Life provides a unique and flexible environment for educators interested in distance learning, computer supported cooperative work, simulation, new media studies, and corporate training” (Linden Research, Inc., 2007). • “Second Life provides an opportunity to use simulation in a safe environment to enhance experiential learning, allowing individuals to practice skills, try new ideas, and learn from their mistakes” (Linden Research, Inc., 2007).

  19. Second Life Importance • The never ending amelioration of technology • Moore’s Law: processing power doubles every 18 months and is expected to continue for the next two decades (Elliot, G. & Phillips, N., 2004). • Universities cannot lag in their implementation of technology or they will be surpassed by their peers (Tiffin, J. & Rajasingham, L., 2004). • Successful implementation of technology increases competitiveness. • Universities that are competitive on key issues such as technology, will lead innovative programming initiatives (Komives, S. R, Woodard, D. B. Jr., & Associates, 2003). • Increased student performance • Enhanced interactivity can optimize academic achievement. (Komives, S. R., et al, 2003).

  20. Second LifeBenefits • Increased accessibility • Ability to have a virtual campus that mirrors the brick and mortar version. • Students can use their avatars to walk around the virtual campus, enter buildings, and explore without the anxiety of being “lost on campus.” • Experience a global environment without leaving the country. • Narrows the perceived gaps in distance, time, and openness for disparate populations of students (Komives, S. R., et al, 2003).

  21. Second LifeBenefits (cont.) • Wow factor • A university with a successful implementation of a virtual campus on Second Life would attract students and faculty alike. • Enriching the campus environment • “The ability to prepare for similar real-world experiences by using Second Life as a simulation has unlimited potential” (Linden Research, Inc., 2007)!

  22. Second Life Risks • Information technology requirements • High-speed Internet connection and powerful graphics processors are necessary to get the full experience. • Resource requirement • A dedicated support staff would be needed to create and maintain the environment. • Sticker shock • Initial investment would be substantial and a thorough cost benefit analysis would be mandatory. Potential return on investment is very high.

  23. Second LifeSecurity • Would have to create the virtual university on a Second Life “island” • Islands are isolated from the mainland in Second Life. • Students would need a limit on the amount of time spent off the island to ensure the use of virtual campus • What is a university’s liability in an online world? • Legal counsel would be needed to protect the university from its students actions • User level Access • Students should not have the same access as support staff. Students should be limited from altering the virtual campus.

  24. Online LearningDescription • The goal of online learning is to, “Provide learning opportunities far beyond the time and place constraints of the traditional classroom. E-learning has emerged from its beginnings as an add-on to traditional education and has now becomes a mission-critical component of the educational environment” (Ghaoui, C., 2004). • 3 main areas of focus: • Laptops • iPod U • Online Portfolios

  25. Online LearningImportance • Web-based learning includes strictly online courses as well as hybrid courses, which physically meet while making some class material available online. • Students are able to access course materials online such as lectures, notes, and assignments. • Students are able to form live online discussion groups with classmates and instructors, as well as post in an ongoing discussion board about class materials.

  26. Online LearningBenefits • “Distance education is a recognized solution all over the world for bridging the learning and education divide between the educated and poorly educated. It gives people the opportunity to continue their formal education. Despite the initial concerns that distance education might be lower in quality than traditional method of schooling many forms of distance education are gaining acceptance” (Ghaoui, C., 2004, p. 202).

  27. Online LearningBenefits (cont.) • Benefits for students and teachers on instructional design include the following: “Courses can be constructed to meet the individual requirements; Learning comes in digestible chunks; Learning is available on a just-in-time basis; Courses can be customized to suit the needs of different audiences; Courses can be constructed using components from a wide range of sources; Components can be reused to meet a range of learning needs” (Ghaoui, C., 2004, p. 198). • Traditional students “felt more isolated during the learning experience” online, while students who were re-entering higher education after a number of years adapted well to the “any time, any place” model of teaching and were intimidated by the more traditional methods of instruction. (Preston, D., 2004, p. 27).

  28. Online LearningRisks • Software becoming outdated which requires keeping up with technological advances and options • Losing face-to-face contact with classmates and instructors • Usability, defined as “the extent to which a computer system can be used to achieve specified goals with effectiveness, efficiency and satisfaction in a given context to complete a well-defined task” (Ghaoui, C., 2004, p. 227). • Navigating methods of evaluation for online learning communities, which includes using “traditional tools and techniques such as questionnaires and interviews to explore the impact upon members, facilitators, administration, learning levels, and development of knowledge” (Lewis, D., and Allan, B., 2005, p. 183).

  29. LaptopsDescription • It is becoming increasingly common today for students to be required to have laptops on campus and to have access to widespread wireless connectivity throughout campus. • Laptop computers are a convenient, portable option for students on the go. • “Laptop-enhanced courses” are becoming increasingly common, and these offer both benefits and challenges for faculty (Campbell, A., and Pargas, R., 2003).

  30. LaptopsBenefits & Importance • With laptops, in-class activities are available that supplement traditional learning strategies. • Online testing in class is a fast and easy way to, “gauge the level of student understanding of a particular topic and suggest that the planned lecture for the day should be adjusted slightly” (Campbell, A., and Pargas, R., 2003, p. 4). • Communication is also aided with laptops because they allow for students and faculty to communicate openly and easily in a number of ways. For example, a program called NetMeeting allows for anyone not in the classroom such as speakers, faculty, or students to participate in live audio and/or video discussion.

  31. LaptopsRisks • Some issues surrounding this topic include cheating, inappropriate communication such as instant messaging during class, and accessibility for students who struggle financially or do not have a background of computer skills.

  32. iPod UDescription • iPod U is “a free, hosted service for colleges and universities that provides easy access to their educational content, including lectures and interviews, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week” (www.apple.com). • Users are able to download free video and audio “podcasts” through iTunes software onto an Apple iPod mp3 player. The portable information at one’s fingertips ranges from educational items like course materials, lectures and seminars, to athletics, student affairs updates, specific college information, programming and other involvement opportunities. Students can even upload their own content to share with classmates.

  33. iPod UImportance, Benefits, Risks • iPod U is significant because it is an innovative way to connect with students by utilizing popular technology that is a part of their daily lives. • In a Spring 2006 Lifestyle & Media study, iPods ranked the #1 most “in” thing on the college campus (www.usatoday.com). Tapping into this popular source provides a fun and useful way to connect with students. • iPod U is easy to administer and use, with built-in tech support at all times. • Despite the popularity of this technology, some students may not have the financial resources to purchase the iPod, which rage in cost from $80 for a basic model without a screen to $350 for models with a color video screen (www.mac.com). Downloading from iTunes also requires a computer with a reliable internet connection.

  34. Online PortfoliosDescription and Importance • “Essentially, an e-portfolio is an extensive résumé that links to an online repository of a student's papers, problem sets, pictures from study-abroad stints, and anything else that demonstrates the student's accomplishments and activities” (Young, J., 2002). • “The hope is that students will show off their portfolios to potential employers or to parents eager to see where their tuition money is going” (Young, J., 2002). • “More and more institutions are encouraging -- or even requiring -- students to create ‘electronic portfolios’ that highlight their academic work and help them reflect on their campus experiences” (Young, J., 2002).

  35. Online PortfoliosBenefits • “Among administrators and faculty members, the key benefit of e-portfolios is that they can breathe new life into the academic-advising process and help students reflect on how their disparate activities become a well-rounded education. Today's busy college students -- many of whom juggle classes, work, volunteer activities, and more -- can easily lose sight of the big picture” (Young, J., 2002). • “A handful of nationwide efforts are under way to refine the e-portfolio concept and develop easy-to-use software tools that will integrate portfolios into existing campus information systems. Many of the e-portfolio efforts include a privacy feature that allows students to regulate access to their portfolios” (Young, J., 2002).

  36. Online PortfoliosRisks • “‘Reflection’ is the word that many e-portfolio enthusiasts use to describe what they hope to spark in students.” However, "Meaningful reflection often includes dialogue and conversation with a coach, a mentor, an adviser, or a peer." That means that professors or peer advisers must get involved to help students decide what to include in their portfolios and how their activities fit together” (Young, J., 2002). • “Getting a large number of professors involved is the most challenging part of starting a campus wide e-portfolio system” (Young, J., 2002).

  37. What We Learned & Final Thoughts There is no one way to contact students either through email, instant messaging, virtual communities, blogs, online learning, text messaging, “snail mail,” or even through fliers and posters around campus . It is important to realize that different students and staff are at different levels of understanding of technology. This does not mean that advancements ought to be ignored, nor does it mean that the newest technologies are the best. Rather, we ought to be up to date in our understanding of what the trends are, but still use the “tried and true” methods that have worked in the past. Overall, it is essential to keep current on literature while including both assessment and evaluation of current practices to ensure effective communication with students given their potential relationship with advanced technology.

  38. References • Campbell, A., and Pargas, R. (2003). Laptops in the classroom. Computer Science Department, Clemson University, 1-5. Retrieved January 29, 2007 from http://dcit.clemson.edu/departments/ETS/laptop_faculty/documents/Laptops_Campbell_Pargas.pdf • Elliot, G. & Phillips, N., (2004). Mobile Commerce and Wireless Computing Systems. Essex, England: Pearson Education Limited. • Evans, N.J., Forney, D.S., & Guido-DiBrito, F. Student Development in College. San Fransisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers • Farrell, E.F., (2/2/2007). U. of North Carolina Makes E-Mail Blunder. The Chronicle of Higher Education, Volume 53, Issue 22, Page A30. Retrieved February 10, 2007 from http://chronicle.com/weekly/v53/i22/22a03004.htm • Ghaoui, C. (2004). E-Education Applications: Human Factors and Innovative Approaches. Information Science Publishing: Hershey, PA. • Jacobs, J. & Williams, J. (2004) Exploring the use of blogs as learning spaces in the higher education sector [Electronic Version]. Australasion Journal of Education Technology, 20(2), 232-247. • Komives. S. R, Woodard, D. B. Jr., & Associates. (2003). Student services: A handbook for the profession (4th ed.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass. • Lewis, D., and Allan, B. (2005). Virtual Learning Communities: A Guide for Practitioners. Open University Press: New York, NY. • Linden Research, Inc. (2007). Second Life | Education. Retrieved February 10, 2007, from http://www.secondlife.com. • Preston, D. (2004). Virtual Learning and Higher Education. Amsterdam: New York, NY. • Retrieved February 9, 2007 from http://www.apple.com/education/products/ipod/itunes_u.html • Retrieved February 9, 2007 from http://chronicle.com/free/2002/02/2002022101t.htm • Retrieved February 9, 2007 from http://www.usatoday.com/tech/news/2006-06-07-ipod-tops-beer_x.htm • spam. (n.d.). The American Heritage® New Dictionary of Cultural Literacy, Third Edition. Retrieved February 10, 2007, from Dictionary.com website: http://dictionary.reference.com/browse/spam • Tiffin, J. & Rajasingham, L., (2004). The Global Virtual University. New York: RoutledgeFalmer. • University Business. (2005) Blogging for prospects. 8(1), 19-20.

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