Technology and Student Affairs #2

Why is technology vilified in Student Affairs?

This session from PaperClip Communications is full of shock and awe:
“Liabilities, judicial impact, legal issues, thorny topics, and professional dangers”

Facebook, Myspace: Liabilities, Judicial & Legal Matters

Every day a new set of issues, concerns, liabilities and legal precedents are set in relationship to cyber communities.

Sites like Facebook and MySpace are rapidly evolving, attracting more and more users. Cyber communities are rapidly developing into a new social and communication platform for college students.

With this new platform comes a whole new set of legal issues, judicial concerns and potential liabilities for every college and university.

Join a panel of experts and your colleagues for a cross-campus discussion on the legal and judicial impacts of cyber communities.

During this dynamic live event you’ll hear from a panel of attorneys who will address thorny topics such as:

  • What’s the status of free speech online when using university servers to access cyber community sites?
  • Does monitoring cyber community sites create a new “duty of care” and therefore open the institution to new liabilities?
  • What legal status do the provider’s terms of usage have on campus? Are there conflicting legalities between the cyber communities and the university?
  • What legal rights exist for an institution to document on-line actions in real world judicial proceedings?

As the digital world evolves so do the legal ramifications surrounding these popular sites. There is a need for developing policy and reconsidering procedures as campuses consider how these digital domains intersect with the real campus world.

We will also discuss issues such as:

  • What students may not, but should, know about their online community agreement.
  • How addressing student conduct online impacts a student’s Freedom of Speech.
  • If your institution reviews student activity/behavior/speech in online communities, are you as an institution opening yourself up to liability? Have you created a new duty of care standard that you will be held to?
  • What are the implications for using information obtained from online communities in judicial hearings? What can be used, what should be used, should you use it at all?
  • What are the implications of using this information in hiring or selection processes? Can or should cyber communities be consulted as part of the admissions process?
  • What is the most effective plan for educating students about the personal and professional dangers associated with online communities? What is working, what is not? We will discuss what best practices are being employed by institutions across the country today to educate students.”

I think it’s important to educate all student affairs practitioners about the complete picture of online communities. It is important for us to know whether or not we have a duty of care. However, I do not think that “fear sessions” create a technologically competent profession. Where are the NASPA, ACPA, and Paperclip sessions on Facebook/ and their potential benefits to retention and academic success? I think we should look at technology like we look at other areas in student affairs. Why do we not think holistically about technology?

Technology and Student Affairs

Every time I think that I can shift my focus away from technology in student affairs…they pull me back in! This (see blockquote) is an online course that is being offered by the American College Personnel Association (ACPA). Can someone please inform ACPA and NASPA that technology is not an “emerging discussion.” It is this kind of language which causes student affairs administrators to remain stuck in 1995. Technology is CURRENTLY in use in student affairs! We have blogs, databases, wikis, rss feeds, vpn clients, web statistics, screenreaders, podcasts, etc. This course should be technical!

Who can I look to as a technology mentor in student affairs when almost everyone seems to think that technology and student affairs are mutually exclusive. NASPA needs to bring back the information technology knowledge community. ACPA needs to have highly technical classes on technology for student affairs practitioners. It is 2006. Technology needs to be part of our educational competencies. [end rant]

ACPA: Technology in Student Affairs

Course Description

iPods, Blackberry, MP3, and more! Today’s college students are awash in technology and have adapted it to their lives. How comfortable are we as college student educators with integrating technology into our professional lives?

This e-learning course is designed to provide an overview of the issues related to technology and the field of student affairs. Included in the course are sections on the current issues, decision-making, and practical applications. Discussion will center on the implications of technology in higher education and how it can best be managed within student affairs. Although technical aspects of technology will be discussed, it is not designed to be a “technical” course. A main objective for participants is to research and address a current technological issue with which they (or a functional area of interest) are dealing.

Course outcomes:

  • Participants will be introduced to the emerging discussion of technological decision-making in student affairs.

  • Participants will reflect on and discuss how professionals make technological decisions on their campus.

  • Participants will research an upcoming decision (or potential decision) related to technology, develop specific goals and strategies to address the issue at hand, and share results with other participants.

  • A comprehensive list of resources for participants will be provided by the instructor and expanded upon by the participants.

OSU SEO and Google

Here’s an article from the Portland Business Journal about some of the work that I have been involved with during my OSU graduate assistantship. The nice thing about search engine optimization is that you increase your page rank while also increasing your site’s accessibility. I think this article will drive a few more visitors to the OSU Admissions Blog.

OSU finds road to success goes through Google
The Portland Business Journal – April 14, 2006 by Aliza Earnshaw, Business Journal staff writer

In an effort to reach prospective students where they spend much of their time Oregon State University has revamped its marketing efforts, employing techniques familiar to the business world.

By redesigning some of its Web pages so they appear higher in Internet search results, and paying other Web sites for links back to OSU’s site, the university hopes to make itself more visible to prospective undergraduate and graduate students, as well as drawing more out-of-state and international applicants.

Both search engine optimization and pay-per-click are familiar tools for businesses looking to increase their online visibility.

These tools and techniques are much less commonly used, however, in the world of higher education, except among for-profit institutions.

OSU is in the vanguard of public institutions adopting these Internet marketing techniques, said Kent Lewis, president of Anvil Marketing Inc., a Portland search-engine optimization firm that has been consulting with OSU on its Web site overhaul and marketing campaign.

Continue reading OSU SEO and Google

A history of web projects

The official title of my OSU Graduate Assistantship is “Student Affairs Web Specialist.” Here are a few of the projects that I have worked on since I arrived in Corvallis in 2004.

OSU Admissions old
When I first started my assistantship at OSU, the Admissions web site looked like this:

old admissions design

The site was in need of an overhaul. The first few months of my assistantship were spent fighting fires. Various issues would arise that would need taking care of, and a complete overhaul of the Admissions web site would not happen for a long time.

OSU International Admissions
The primary project that I was assigned to was managing the re-design of the International Admissions web site (the version that is currently up is a progression from last year’s design.).

old international design

The International Admissions web site was re-designed using web standards and user feedback. The site was easy to navigate and loaded quickly due to its css-based layout.

admissions international design

The re-designed International Admissions web site received positive reviews from the OSU community and from several external audiences.

Eric Stoller’s Blog
Initially, the ESB was used to house my technology workshop lessons/links. The focus shifted when I decided that the blog could serve as my portfolio for CSSA as well as a personal journal. I blogged about life, school, and work. Eventually, my social justice posts became the primary focus of the blog. I think this is probably due to the fact that my passion for social justice came to the forefront of my life while I was in the midst of a life changing experience. I built the blog using WordPress. The theme was a free theme that I shaped to my own devices. I’ve added plugins for subscribers and recent comments/posts. The flexibility of a css-based design has allowed me to change colors, font sizes, etc. The php include construction of WordPress enabled me to add search functionality and comment functionality to posts/pages where it did not normally appear by default.

Eric Stoller's blog screenshot

I have had quite the experience with the blog. It is personal. It is professional. It is a portfolio.

OSU Precollege
I was given this project as a quick and easy web re-design. The folks over at OSU Precollege needed a web presence that reflected a consistent look and feel of the overall OSU web. I utilized a template from OSU Publications and created a basic web site.

OSU Precollege web page design

The biggest challenge with this project was the lack of “client” communication. The site was created by yours truly in a design vacuum. It’s not usually the way I would like to work. I prefer a collaborative process in which stakeholder involvement drives the project. The previous Precollege site had not been updated for a long time, and I fear that the current site design will exist for far to long. Unfortunately, I think this reflects the belief that as long as a site is online it is functioning. I believe this creates a static, cob web ridden presence that does not involve the actual users of the site.

OSU Success
This site was designed by an external vendor but I had a large role in the accessibility and usability of the site. The site was initially constructed in a format that was deemed to be boring for its intended audience. First-year students need a site that encourages participation as well as incentives for return visits.

OSU Success

I learned a lot about working with an external vendor on this project. There was a lot of planning, communicating, designing, and thinking that went into this project. The final project was accessible as well as standards compliant. The student response was very favorable and the site differed from similar sites.

A blog was created to compliment the student OSU Success site. Students were selected from the orientation staff and trained in the art of blogging. Site statistics showed that we did not have the best results with regards to visitors. However, I believe that the blog was a great experience for the student writers as well as for the students who read it.

OSU Success Blog

OSU Success for Parents and Family

A companion site for Parents and Family was created to compliment the student version. Parents and family were given content which was relevant to their experience. The site design that was used was simple and easy to use. Once again, the site was accessible and highly usable.

OSU Success for Parents and Family

While working with the OSU Success vendor, I became aware that the amount of email correspondence was becoming unmanageable. I had recently discovered the 37 Signals project management application: Basecamp. OSU staff and the external vendor utilized Basecamp for file transfer, deadline creation, and intergroup communications. The tool became an online archive for everyone on the project. Basecamp became a key component to our overall communications and project management strategy.

Basecamp and OSU

I’m really glad that I suggested Basecamp. For me, this clearly represented how online applications can be used to streamline group processes and communications.

OSU Graduate School
OSU Publications designed a new web site for the OSU Graduate School. I stepped in and was able to manage the interface between the folks from Publications and the Graduate School. I taught the GS folks how to update the new site as well as how to navigate a site that was structured using css and includes.

OSU Grad School web site screenshot
OSU Grad School forms screenshot

The Graduate School now uses online forms for a variety of data transmission functions. This should save them a lot of time, money and effort. The new GS site and online forms provides a heightened user experience for student users due to increased accessibility, usability, and functionality.

OSU Admissions new
The OSU Admissions web site re-design project was a terrific experience. It was a collaborative experience in which OSU Publications and OSU Admissions joined forces to create a standards compliant, user-friendly site. The site utilizes css and includes. We focused a lot on separation of content from the design. The new site includes a blog that has received a lot of visits. Written by an Admissions staffer, the blog showcases OSU Admissions as well as the accomplishments of the OSU community. I created the blog using WordPress (my personal blogging experience enabled me to set up the blog). The Admissions template encloses the new blog so that the user experience is seamless. The new Admissions site continues to grow and search engine optimization will increase as the site expands.

OSU NEW Admissions design screenshot

Admissions site level 2 redesign screenshot

OSU Admissions website level 3 screenshot

OSU Admissions blog

OSU Document Management Project

The OSU DMP is using a blog (another WordPress blog that I created) to transmit information to key stakeholders as well as enable users to interact with the site. The project is enormous in scope and will utilize the blog to maintain a constant stream of communication with users.

OSU EM DMP Blog screenshot

OSU Student Affairs

I am in charge of re-designing the OSU Student Affairs web site. The current version (pictured below) is not standards compliant and it is due for an overhaul. The primary users of this site are internal users. The site will serve as a central hub of information. I plan on using code from the OSU Admissions site design. The Admissions code is accessible and the site structure efficiently separates content from design.

OSU Student Affairs web site original screenshot

OSU Student Affairs – redesigned

Oregon State University Student Affairs website

*One of my last projects will probably involve the creation of a wiki for OSU Enrollment Management IT. The wiki will serve as a repository of techie tips and experiential histories. I’ve never created a wiki before so I will need to research the wiki options that exist. OSU CWS currently uses a wiki and I will probably see if their site wiki would work for OSU EM IT.

Gmail and your

Google is offering Gmail as an alternative email system for universities that do not have the time/money/etc to internally host student email accounts. The new service will allow students to have their .edu emails with all of the added features of the Gmail service. It’s all beta, so who knows how long this will last…the first victim client is going to be San Jose City College. Good luck SJCC!

Update: I wonder if Google will serve up advertisements on .edu Gmail accounts? How would this be in line with a universities policy on third party vendors and advertising?

AACRAO Presentation

Jim and I went up to Portland in July to present at the AACRAO Admissions Institute. We presented on Technology and Admissions. The presentation went really well. Jim and I had never presented before so it was nice to see that our styles meshed well. He is very serious while I like to inject a bit of levity. The audience seemed to enjoy our presentation. The evaluations were very positive.

I was in charge of editing the powerpoint that we used for the presentation. It was originally created in 2004 and the technology section needed several updates on accessibility, usability, and web statistics. The powerpoint section that I edited was used by presenters in Georgia, Massachusetts, and Texas.

AACRAO Admissions Institute 2005 Presentation

Google-mania 2005!

  • Advanced Google
  • Google
    – Google suggests possible search terms while you type!
  • Google Scholar – search scholarly
    literature, including peer-reviewed papers, theses, books, preprints,
    abstracts and technical reports. Find articles from a wide variety of academic
    publishers, professional societies, preprint repositories and universities, as
    well as scholarly articles available across the web.
  • Google Compute
    “Put your computer to work advancing scientific knowledge when it’s not
    helping you.”
  • Google Sets – “Automatically
    create sets of items from a few examples”
  • Google Maps/Satellite -Mapquest on
  • Google Video -Google Video searches
    the closed captioning text of all the programs in Googles archive for relevant
  • Google Desktop Search Tool
    “With Google Desktop Search, you can search the full text of your email,
    files, viewed web pages, and chats. Specifically, you can search:
    from Outlook 2000+, Outlook Express 5+, Netscape Mail 7.1+, Mozilla Mail 1.4+
    and Thunderbird
    All the files on your computer, including text, Word,
    Excel, Powerpoint, PDF, MP3, image, audio, and video files. You can even
    search your media files by meta-tag: for instance, by artist name and song
    title, not just the file name.
    Web pages you’ve viewed using Internet
    Explorer 5+, Netscape 7.1+, Mozilla 1.4+ and Firefox.
    Chats from AOL 7+ and
    AOL Instant Messenger 5+ ”
  • Google Alerts – “Google Alerts
    are emails automatically sent to you when there are new Google results for
    your search terms. We currently offer three types of alerts: ‘News,’ ‘Web,’
    and ‘News & Web.’ ”
  • Google Local – “Google Local is a
    Google search service that helps you locate businesses in a specific
    geographic location. With Google, you can search the worldwide web; with
    Google Local, you can find an auto parts store within walking distance.”
  • Use
    Google for Definitions
    – Search for define –blank–
  • Google’s “My Search
    – “My Search History allows you to easily access and manage your
    Google web search history from any computer. You can search and browse through
    your search history over time and even check your level of activity on Google
    for any given day.”
  • Google Ride Finder – “With
    Google Ride Finder, you can search for taxis, limousines and shuttles and make
    better decisions by seeing the exact location of vehicles in your area. Just
    enter a zip code, the name of a city or even a specific address. You will get
    a map showing the companies and where their vehicles are located”
  • Gmail by Google – “Gmail is a free,
    search-based webmail service that includes more than 2,000 megabytes (two
    gigabytes) of storage. The backbone of Gmail is a powerful Google search
    engine that quickly finds any message an account owner has ever sent or
    received. That means there’s no need to file messages in order to find them
  • Google Answers – “Google
    Answers is a way to get that help from Researchers with expertise in online
    searching. When you post a question to Google Answers, you specify how much
    you’re willing to pay for an answer. A Researcher will search for the
    information you want. When they find it, they will post it to Google Answers,
    and you will be notified via email. You will only be charged for your question
    if and when an answer is posted to it. ”
  • Froogle by Google – “Froogle is a
    new service from Google that makes it easy to find information about products
    for sale online.”
  • Google Image Search
    – Find images from all over the world.
  • Google Web Search
    – “In addition to providing easy access to more than 8 billion
    web pages, Google has many special features to help you to find exactly what
    you’re looking for.”
  • Google Language Tool
    Translate words, sentences, web sites and more!
  • Google Picasa
    – “Picasa is software that helps you instantly find, edit and share all
    the pictures on your PC.”

Outlook, PowerPoint, and Word links

Daily Outlook Tips Archive – Over 250 tips to making Outlook work for you.

Outlook Tips, Tricks and Secrets

Outlook tips from PC Magazine

Allan Wyat’s Microsoft Word tips

Microsoft PowerPoint 2003 tips and tutorials

Multimedia in PowerPoint – The Myers Multimedia FAQ by Austin Myers (PowerPoint MVP)

Microsoft PowerPoint Viewer — look at PowerPoints without owning or installing the application

“Awesome” PowerPoint Tips

PowerPoint FAQs (recommended)