2010 NACADA Technology Seminars

NACADA Technology Seminars

Last year I participated in the NACADA Technology Seminar. This year, the NACADA Technology Seminar will be offered in conjunction with 3 NACADA Regional Conferences. I’ll be leading the technology seminar at the Region 8 conference in Seattle. Laura Pasquini, University of North Texas and Clay Schwenn, University of Washington, will also be facilitating sessions during the 2 day event.

The NACADA Region 8 Conference Technology Seminar will be a hands on, interactive advising technology experience with a focus on utilizing the latest web-based technologies including: Blogs, Wikis, Twitter, Facebook Pages, RSS/Content Re-purposing, MS Outlook Enhancements, Web Statistics/Assessment, Online Surveys/Forms, Web Video/Audio and Social Bookmarking. In addition to learning how to use these tools, attendees will be given the tools to implement an academic advising oriented social media communications planning framework.

This seminar is for advisors who identify as having an intermediate to advanced comfort level with technology. Participants will be expected to bring a wi-fi capable laptop. This seminar is for advisors who want to go beyond signing up for a Facebook profile and boldly go forward with expanding their technology implementations/expertise.

Google Wave and Accessibility

Google Wave is “totally inaccessible.” According to Web Accessibility in Mind’s (Web AIM) Jared Smith.

Smith’s list of Google Wave’s inaccessible aspects is quite disappointing:

  • Alternative text is not provided for any images.
  • Background images are used to convey content.
  • Roles, states, and other accessibility properties are not defined.
  • There is no document or heading structure or semantics. None! Not even a list!
  • Form elements do not have labels or titles.
  • Keyboard focus indication is hidden, making keyboard navigation nearly impossible.
  • Most interactive elements are not in the tab order or do not respond to keyboard activation.
  • Keyboard focus is often trapped, requiring the page or browser to be closed to resume keyboard navigation.
  • The application becomes unusable and unreadable when text size is increased only slightly.

I concur with Smith’s hope that Google Wave will be made into an accessible product. It’s too bad that accessibility was not part of the initial framework of Google Wave. How many times do we have to experience something built with either brick/mortar or “1’s and 0’s” that is not accessible for all users? Ableism is so pervasive. C’mon Google…you can’t really be “great” if you’re not making great things for everyone to use.

Google Wave & Academic Advising

Google Wave

I recently received an invite to the Google Wave beta. The day after I received my invite, I demoed Google Wave to some of the faculty at OSU. We started brainstorming ways in which we could use Google Wave. (It should be noted that the limitations of Blackboard were frequently mentioned in this conversation.) I immediately started pondering how Google Wave could be useful for Academic Advisors in academic advising.

The initial question after I showed my Google Wave account on the big screen was quite simple — what is it? The answer is very complicated. Google Wave is a new way of communicating and collaborating that uses a lot of the elements in current web tools.

Google Wave overview:

Google Wave has the potential to be an exciting new web tool for group advising, content repurposing via Wave embeds, classroom discussions, shared academic advising knowledge bases, collaborative document creation/sharing between advisors/students and distance advising.

The list of Google Wave possibilities is seemingly limited to one’s imagination and creativity.

Adding captions to YouTube videos

I used to be a huge fan of Vimeo. Their user interface and HD video capability is top notch. Unfortunately, Vimeo has decided that accessibility is not a priority. 8 days ago on the Vimeo forums, the topic of accessibility via closed captions / subtitles was added to the Vimeo Community Forums – Feature Request section. Vimeo’s response to this request was extremely saddening:

We have a lot of higher priority features in the cue right now, and when we find the appropriate time, we will definitely look into offer CC support.

Vimeo is telling its community that users with hearing impairments do not matter.

Thankfully, YouTube has now made it very easy to add captions to videos. In fact, YouTube allows for HD uploads, accessible videos and better uptime than Vimeo.

It’s really easy to add captions / subtitles to a YouTube video using dotSUB:

Continue reading Adding captions to YouTube videos

Academic Advising Management System

One of the topics that is frequently making the rounds in my head is the need for an academic advising management system in higher education. SunGard Higher Education’s DegreeWorks appears to offer a comprehensive platform for academic advisors. However, DegreeWorks, like most of the products that SunGard offers, seems to be about as user-friendly as Banner ;-) and it costs a lot of money. AdvisorTrac can be used for appointment scheduling and appointment tracking. Unfortunately, AdvisorTrac was not originally created with academic advising in mind. It’s a scheduling platform that has “advisor” in its name and is thus an industry leader. This is mostly due to the extremely empty sphere that is the world of academic advising management systems.

I would love to have an academic advising system that is extremely functional, user-friendly and aesthetically appealing. Something like Survs, Flickr, or anything from 37signals, but for academic advisors.

At the recent NACADA National Conference, Joshua Barron, a super tech savvy advising colleague, debuted an open source academic advising management system. I wasn’t able to attend the conference, but it turns out that Joshua is looking for collaborators for this new system.

My dream academic advising system would include: integration with university student information system, note taking, built in credit articulation, appointment scheduling, assessment functionality, degree audits, future course planning/forecasting, and more!

Basically, I am fed up with paper-based advising systems. And, please note that document management is not the solution. Scanning in a bunch of paper files is not my idea of high-tech.

Here are some notes regarding the system that Joshua presented at NACADA:

Continue reading Academic Advising Management System

NACADA National Conference & Twitter

NACADA is on Twitter

More than 30 attendees at the NACADA National Conference in San Antonio utilized the #nacada09 hashtag to maintain an active back channel. Check out the full list of NACADA 09 twitterers from this year’s conference at the NACADA Tech Seminar site.

My guess is that this was about 30 more people on Twitter than at last year’s event. Hopefully, the use of Twitter will continue at next year’s conference in Orlando. I would have liked to have seen a few more presentations on Slideshare as I was not able to attend the conference. However, the back channel conversations were quite good considering that this was the first time that this has happened at a NACADA Conference.

OACADA: technology + student success

OACADA

I will be giving the keynote speech for the Oklahoma ACademic ADvising Association (OACADA) Fall Conference in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma next month. The conference theme is “Using Technology to Navigate Student Success” and I think that it provides a terrific continuation to the academic advising technology conversations that came out of the NACADA Technology Seminar. In addition to the keynote address, I will be facilitating a question and answer session in the afternoon.

NACADA ’09 Conference hashtag

NACADA is using Twitter in San Antonio to connect with virtual followers

One of the most successful components of the NACADA Technology Seminar was the use of Twitter amongst the seminar attendees. Every tweet for the event was tagged with this hashtag: #nacadatech09. The hashtag allowed us to aggregate all tagged tweets into the NACADA Tech website via a widget from monitter.com.

This year, due to a multitude of financial issues, a lot of NACADA members will most likely not be able to attend the NACADA Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas.

The following hashtag has been “created” to enable non-attendees the opportunity to virtually follow the action in San Antonio: #nacada09

How can you participate as either a NACADA Annual Conference Tweeter or as a virtual follower?

NACADA Tweeters:

  • Step 1: Sign up for a Twitter account.
  • Step 2: Take your laptop or web-ready cellphone to San Antonio and hope that WiFi is available.
  • Step 3: Post updates on Twitter about the conference: session pointers, take-aways, best practices, key issues, etc.
  • Step 4: In every 140 character post, include “#nacada09” (without quotes and a space in front of and after the tag)

Virtual followers:

Student Affairs Practitioners and Twitter

Student Affairs is on Twitter
Tweet, tweet, tweet: Student Affairs is on Twitter
A microblogging phenomenon known as Twitter has recently rocketed into popular consciousness. In existence for 3 years, Twitter is not exactly the newest social networking site. However, it was in 2009 that Twitter’s mainstream notoriety occurred. Twitter users in Iran produced thousands of microblog posts informing the world of post-election protests. Ashton Kutcher and CNN held a contest to see which of their popular accounts could garner the most followers. Oprah and Ellen began tweeting this year. Even President Obama utilized Twitter as part of a successful election communications strategy. Twitter provides a content platform that can be used for personal tweets, organizing, event updates, networking, content syndication and research.

What does Twitter have to do with Student Affairs and its practitioners?
The answer to how Twitter is relevant to Student Affairs practitioners is stunningly simple: communication. Hundreds of higher education institutions, senior leaders within those organizations, and social media savvy faculty/staff/students are posting 140 character microblog updates to Twitter on a daily basis. Twitter provides a conduit for a wide variety of communication-based applications that Student Affairs professionals can utilize.

Continue reading Student Affairs Practitioners and Twitter