Institution Analytics #USGRockEagle13

Janice Hill, Columbus State University

  • Process:
    • Define KPI’s : grades,  starting degree, ending degree, and many more.
    • Design and Implement : ODI integrator
      • Subject area example : summation helps reports only pull one row per student.
      • Updating : degrees awarded only loaded at end of term.
    • Validation of data : Work with Institutional Research to figure out where wrong. Consulting with individuals who think data did not look right.
    • Production release : Start a new cycle.
  • Data elements:
    • Banner, PeopleSoft, Excel spreadsheets
    • student head count, student attempted credit hours, and about 30 others.
  • Dashboards : 8 in production, 2 in completed validation, 2 subject areas ready to be built. Changes to a dashboard not saved across sessions, so users need to export to a file.
  • Structure of Dashboard : Level prompts : College, department, program, major, term. Analysis. Footnotes.
  • Users with access : President, VP, Deans, Dept heads.
  • Export types : PDF, Excel, Web,
  • Errors: BI data loaded at 6am, so local data pulled at 9am WILL result in very small differences.
  • Progression dashboard : credit hours by term, avg GPA by class, avg GPA vs credit hours earned, demographic breakdowns, grades by academic level, grades by section
  • Retention and Graduation dashboard : after 1 year, after 6 years. Use both counts and percentages.
  • Talk with faculty about their data needs so can show it exists or build it into a report.
  • Individualized training. Understanding how to filter is a challenging concept.
  • User tracking enabled, so know how long they stay on a dashboard, filters used, the SQL used.
  • Try to use as little filters as possible. Her job to get the data. User’s job is to interpret.
  • Decisions and policy affected by this data.
  • Trying to get grade data to improve early warning.
  • What are the products for which they want analytics?
  • Using University System of Georgia requirements for retention, so pegged to Fall enrollment. “Some times you have to go past what makes sense to you and implement the rule.”

Excellent session!

D2L Faculty Readiness #USGRockEagle13

Dee McKinney and Kathy Whitaker, East Georgia College

    • 3k students, access inst, grant associates degrees,
    • Many students first generation in family.
    • Part of first Georgia implementation group so started Fall 2012.
    • VP Academic Affairs asked all faculty to 1) upload a syllabus, 2) keep the grade book updated. So students can tell where they are in the course. At least an update every other week.
    • Purpose of study:
    • What training effective? Did it work/
    • 12 * 3 hour training sessions in May-July. 4 * 2 hour ‘quick start’ sessions in August. Covered basic tools: syllabus, grade book, discussions, dropbox, import content, email, quizzes, class lists, etc.
    • As time allowed: widgets, nav bars, news, pagers, custom profile, elementary design. Experiment.
    • 122 faculty. 33% attended training. 65% of those full time faculty. 2 dedicated trainers. Some trainees given stipend to be in the field mentors.
      • Online experts: substantial online experience. Mix of full and part time. 27 total. By choice came to earliest sessions.
      • Curious Optimists: some online experience. Mix of 2 to longer. 1 to quick.
      • Reluctant Participants: Little to no online teaching experience. All full time faculty. 7 total. A few admitted only there because required. Did not attend group training. Made appointments for individual.
    • Additional training: extensive list of docs, found apps, etc.
    • Survey before and after plus 5 weeks after start of Fall 2012. Emails approx 400 from help. Informal reviews.
    • Results: 3 hours was enough but not too much b/c workshop oriented not lecture. Essential for time to play with advisers to help. Instructors worked on own content not sample course. 1:8 trainer to trainee ratio. Participants collaborated. IT person on hand for passwords.
    • Multiple methods of training.
    • Mentors on hand regularly.
    • Perception of readiness: anxious prior. Confident after. Requests for advanced training.
    • Group one more competent. Reluctant willing try more positive.
    • Allow as much lead time as possible.
    • Accept some faculty will never buy into online teaching.
    • Suggestion faculty get a course release for first time teaching as so much work to start.
    • Was training or new LMS that made faculty happier.
    • Fall 2013: 2 hour training. Quick start guide. Start set0up while trainer in the room. Focused workshops for followup training on grade books, quizzes, widgets, intelligent agents (spring).
    • Met with professional advisers to focus on needs of online students.

Organization Relationships

A friend of mine who I used to work with once remarked (2007-ish) the University System of Georgia does not really work like a system so much as a loose confederation fighting over money. Given I have no access to budgets, I would not know. GeorgiaVIEW works remarkably well given there are only a few people running the system and hoards of people administrating it for their campus. There is a mostly correct mix of grassroots and top down pressure.

The Board of Regents Information Technology Services have fostered a culture of “help requests must go through the tickets”. Tickets allow the team to better triage issues. Tickets show leaders we are helpful. The unintended consequence is weakening the relationships we have. Tickets indicate we are too busy to be helpful. Relationships are accountable so an individual shows vulnerability to me by admitting not understanding, breaking, or other problems. My part of the relationship is to console, advise, or fix the problems. Tickets make all this harder because they are less personal.

When I talk with my coworkers, we covet the connections we hold across the system for they are the true value. How do we develop these relationships inside the formality of processes which fail to incentivise them?

We have email lists, instant messages, weekly Wimba sessions, etc., but there is obviously  a problem when the same people who have these things only tell me about things when they see me in person. I’m reminded of the ITS CIO spending time going to campuses to talk to them about their needs. Maybe that should something we do throughout the organization especially at my level? Also, when I was at Valdosta State, my best information about the needs of faculty members and students came from visiting them not the technology I developed to encourage reporting issues.

Technology is not magic. It does make those who are not communicating start. It just shifts the form and potentially makes it more difficult. Ideally the difficulty will be so slight no one will notice. One can make communication easier by going from a more difficult technology to a more easy form. Still… It is not as good as being there with the person.

Supported

(This is an post I wrote back in November but didn’t publish…. Until now. Have fun!)

Mitigated speech gets a lot of use by people trying not to offend. All too often, people who have been hurt because of mitigated speech question what isn’t being told as though the omission or gaps are intentionally deceptive.

What are or are not supported browsers came up again. The trick here is the mitigated speech used with the levels of support. I assume the intent is clarity.

  • Certified – supported with complete testing done.
  • Compatible – supported with some testing done.
  • Provisional – supported with some testing done before official release.

Certified is taken as supported by all parties. Compatible and Provisional are interpreted as not supported because the complete testing has yet to be done. I think Blackboard’s intent was to mark them as supported but qualify how customers might encounter issues due to not fully testing. This means Blackboard is interested in learning about the problems encountered in order to address them.

At least that is my interpolation. Mmmmmm the Kool-Aid is good.

LMS in a Pandemic

Mama Banditito As we head into the new school year across the United States, medical officals are warning about higher than normal numbers of young people with the flu. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) says this about H1N1, “Current visits to doctors for influenza-like illness are down from April, but are higher than what is expected in the summer.” Yesterday the CDC released Guidance for Responses to Influenza for Institutions of Higher Education during the 2009-2010 Academic Year.

Review and revise, as needed, policies, such as student absenteeism policies and sick leave policies for faculty and staff, that make it difficult for students, faculty, and staff to stay home when they are ill or to care for an ill family member. Do not require a doctor’s note to confirm illness or recovery.

Some faculty use online learning systems to provide notes to students so students can concentrate on the lecture or discussion rather than furious copy the blackboard or projection. The minority place all the information from lectures and slides online so students don’t get too far behind if they miss a class. If entire faculties did this for all the lectures, then students with the flu could stay home in isolation withouth much ill effect this flu season.

Of course, working to place all this material online is a ton of work to place on the shoulders of the faculty.

Also it would be an enormous weight on the shoulders of my colleagues who manage our storage.  I would find it unlikely we host more than 1/5 of their classes. 🙂

Photo: My mother demonstrating how she spends time outside during fire season. Nothing to do with the flu except some people cover their mouth and nose to protect themselves.

Computer Metaphors

An effective way to explain something is to use a metaphor. This can be especially effective by picking an metaphorical object or behavior with which the audience is already familiar.

The one I see most often is comparing computers to a car. This morning I saw this on an email list describing a person’s experience  migrating to Vista 8 from Vista 3.

It is like I have traded in a familiar (though frustrating) car for one that has the lights, wipers, and radio in new locations.

Also this morning, Vista 8 was compared to a malfunctioning pen forced on faculty who would rather use a better pen. Nevermind all pens are not used exactly the same. (Fountain vs rollerball) Some require more maintenance and care than others.

A coworker always says Free Open Source Software like Sakai or Moodle are free as in free puppies not free beer. Nevermind proprietary bought systems like Blackboard are bought as in bought puppies.
🙂

Turnitin.com

I’m surprised I have not blogged here about the student lawsuit against Turnitin.com? An anti-plagiarism service, Turnitin has students or faculty members upload papers into the database. By comparing new papers to the database, it gives ratings as to whether it is likely a student plagiarized.

Now the search goes out for any student who has a paper that’s being held by TurnItIn that they did not upload themselves. Students Settle with TurnItIn

In theory I could be someone in this situation. Back in 2005, a coworker asked my mother if someone by my name was related to her. This coworker was taking some classes at the university I attended. Turnitin had threw up a cautionary flag on the Originality Report because it was somewhat similar to something with my name on it. The problem is this product came into use at the university after the time I was a student. So I never submitted anything to it. The department from which I got my degree kept a copy of my papers (many submitted by email) and used this product at the time.

Another possibility is this tidbit about the product: Over 11 Billion Web Pages Crawled & Archived. I was actively blogging before and at the time of the incident. Assuming it could identify my name out of all that content, this match could have come from my blogging.

When I contacted Turnitin about this back in 2005, they told me I would have to remove my paper. I re-explained that I didn’t submit the paper. So Turnitin explained that whoever did put the paper in the system would have to remove it. The guy acknowledged the difficulty of the situation in identifying who posted it.

Higher Ed Twitter List

Karlyn Morissette posted her Master Higher Ed Twitter List. Other than @eironae and @barbaranixon, I didn’t know anyone on the list. So I thought to post a list of higher education professionals I follow categorized by primary expertise.

Blackboard twitterers might be another post.

Those in bold are coworkers.

College / University / Departments

@atsu_its – A.T. Still University – IT Help Desk & Support
@BC_Bb – Butte College Blackboard System
@CTLT – Center for Teaching, Learning, and Technology @ Goucher College
@GeorgiaSouthern – Georgia Southern University
@ucblackboard – University of Cincinnati Blackboard Support

CE/Vista

@amylyne – Amy Edwards – CE/Vista DBA
@corinnalo – Corrina Lo – CE/Vista Admin
@elrond25 – Carlos Araya – CE/Vista Admin, Dr. C
@jdmoore90 – Janel Moore – CE/Vista Admin
@jlongland – Jeff Longland – CE/Vista Programmer
@lgekeler – Laura Gekeler – CE/Vista Admin
@ronvs – Ron Santos – CE/Vista Analyst
@sazma – Sam Rowe – YaketyStats
@skodai – Scott Kodai – former Vista Admin now manager
@tehmot – George Hernandez – CE/Vista DBA
@ucblackboard – UC Blackboard Admins

Faculty

@academicdave – David Parry – Emerging Media and Communications
@amberhutchins – Amber Hutchins – PR and Persuasion
@barbaranixon – Barbara Nixon – Public Relations
@captain_primate – Ethan Watrall – Cultural Heritage Informatics
@doctorandree – Andree Rose – English
@KarenRussell – KarenRussell – Public Relations
@mwesch – Mike Wesch – Anthropology
@prof_chuck – Chuck Robertson – Psychology

Information Technologist / Support

@aaronleonard – Aaron Leonard
@Autumm – Autumm Caines
@bwatwood – Britt Watwood
@cscribner – Craig Scribner
@dontodd – Todd Slater
@ECU_Bb_Info – Matt Long
@ekunnen – Eric Kunnen
@heza – Heather Dowd
@hgeorge – Heather George
@masim – ???
@mattlingard – Matt Lingard
@meeganlillis – Meegan Lillis
@soul4real – Coop

Assessment / Library / Research

@alwright1 – Andrea Wright – Librarian
@amylibrarian – Amy Springer – Librarian
@amywatts – Amy Watts – Librarian
@elwhite – Elizabeth White – Librarian
@kimberlyarnold – Kimberly Arnold – Educational Assessment Specialist
@mbogle – Mike Bogle – Research

Web Design / UI

@eironae – Shelley Keith

Director

@aduckworth – Andy Duckworth
@garay – Ed Garay
@grantpotter Grant Potter
@IDLAgravette – Ryan Gravette
@Intellagirl – Sarah B. Robbins
@tomgrissom – Tom Grissom

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Course Management Systems are Dead!

Heh. Blackboard Vista is headed for a brick wall? Who knew?

7. Course Management Systems are Dead! Long Live Course Management Systems! Proprietary course management systems are heading for a brick wall. The combination of economic pressures combined with saturated markets and the maturing stage of the life cycle of these once innovative platforms means that 2009 may well be the year of change or a year of serious planning for change. Relatively inexpensive and feature-comparable open source alternatives combined with some now learned experience in the process of transition from closed to open systems for the inventory of repeating courses makes real change in this once bedrock of education technology a growing possibility. As product managers and management view these trend lines, I think we might see incumbent players make a valiant effort to re-invent themselves before the market drops out from underneath them. Look for the number of major campuses moving (or making serious threats to move) from closed systems to open ones to climb in the year ahead. The Year Ahead in Higher Ed Technology

It is true the big player in proprietary CMS / LMS / VLE software has lagged in innovation for quite a while. Remember though Blackboard bought WebCT and kept around the other product while hemorrhaging former WebCT employees. That alone kept them extremely busy not to lose every customer they bought. The next version, Blackboard 9 should be available soon. That is the litmus test for their future success.

Bb9 is a newer version of Academic Suite, aka Classic. There is no direct upgrade path from CE / Vista to Bb9. There is a Co-Production upgrade path where one can run both versions side-by-side with a portal interface to access either version without having to login again. Content still has to be extracted from the old and placed in the new. (Since we are running Vista 3 and Vista 8 side-by-side now, this doedsn’t give me warm fuzzies.) This was the upgrade path some WebCT and Blackboard clients took getting from Vista 3 to 4 only to find Vista 4 was junkware. Similarly, those leaving CE4 for CE6 were frustrated by the move. So, I would predict:

  1. Those on Classic 8 now will go to Blackboard 9 ASAP.
  2. Smaller colleges on CE 8 who through turnover no longer have the people burned by the CE4->CE6 migration will probably move to Blackboard 9 this summer prior to Fall.
  3. Smaller colleges on CE 8 who still remember will migrate after AP1 (maybe a year after Bb9 release).
  4. Larger colleges on CE or Vista 8 will move some time between AP1 and AP2.
  5. Consortia groups like GeorgiaVIEW, Utah State System, or Connecticut State University System will wait and see.

That last group doesn’t take change easily. They have the nimbleness of a Supertanker cargo ship.

I am still waiting for the tweets about Moodle and Sakai, the open source alternatives, to change from in general “X sucks, but at least its not Blackboard.” to “X is the best there is.” If “at least its not Blackboard” is the only thing going for the software, then people will stay where they are to see where things go. There needs to be compelling reasons to change.

Unfortunately the cries of the students and the faculty in the minority are not enough. Most people are happy enough. They can accomplish the important things. They get frustrated that IT took the system down, data center power issues, network issues, or a performance issue. None of which go away by picking FOSS.

Merge Historically Black Colleges With White?

Retention is one of those numbers higher education leaders tend to review to determine how effectively the faculty reaches the students. Historically black colleges and universities were created because students found it difficult both to get into “neutral” colleges and graduate from them. That latter part sounds like they were created in part to solve a retention issue.

Enter Georgia Senator Seth Harp who suggests a couple HBCUs in Georgia should merge with their neutral neighbors. The idea is to save money by not having more than one college in a town. Are black students as successful at “neutral” colleges as their white counterparts? If not, then the reason these schools exist has yet to be solved.

If we want to eliminate HBCUs, then we should have colleges and unviersities where all students succeed regardless of race (or gender, religion, or other factors).