AcAdv, AdvTech, Higher Education

Today’s #AcAdv Chat Topic: Data Analytics in Academic Advising #highered

A couple of week’s ago, I was fortunate to join the Open SUNY COTE Summit 2017. I will be sure to share more about the #COTEsummit learning in the coming weeks; however, the last session helped me think about framing TODAY’s (3/21) #AcAdv Chat I’ll be moderating from 12-1 pm CT: Data Analytics in #AcAdv 

During the #COTEsummit Learning Analytics panel hosted by OLC, we dug into what information we know and how we use it to understand more about our learners.  Many academic advising units/divisions, often jump to the platform or process for how we analyze students to predict learner behavior:

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But before advising leaders in higher ed jump on the big data bandwagon or decide to implement technology platform to collect data, I think our support units need to identify what information and data we need to know to effectively support our learners. Let’s make decisions on the data that is most helpful, instead of letting predictive analytics make decisions for us at our institutions. What often gets lost in this conversation and planning is this: learning or learning analytics.

Learning analytics are about learning (Gašević, Dawson, & Siemens, 2015). Sometimes we forget this about learning analytics when the phrase data is tossed out at the  “strategic-planning-task-force-retention-student-success-operation” meeting occurs at our universities and colleges. Sure, learning analytics might be most relevant for instructors and faculty; however, learning data is also critical for those who support the instructional design, scaffold student success, and provide academic advising/support in higher education.

Image c/o Giulia Forsythe

In thinking about academic advising and learner support, I have SO many questions about data and data analytics for this #AcAdv Chat topic… here are just a few:

  • How does your institution collect, store, and share data campus-wide?
  • What do you do as a staff or faculty member to interpret the data?
  • Are you able to interpret, read, and translate the information provided about your learners?
  • Are there real-time notifications where students, staff, and faculty can interpret academic progress? What does this look like at your campus?
  • Do your data sets on campus talk to one another? Is there much interaction between your student information system, learning management system, institutional portal, or institutional research data? Why or why not?
  • What challenges and/or issues have you thought about for how data is collected and/or reviewed for learner support?
  • Who or what office can you reach out to on campus for “data analysis” or digging into your learner data to interpret further to support the work you do?

What thoughts or questions do you have about this issue, higher ed? Won’t you join us for today’s #acadv chat conversation? Here’s how:

TWEETS from the #AcAdv Chat conversation on 03.21.17

Reference:

Gašević, D., Dawson, S., & Siemens, G. (2015). Let’s not forget: Learning analytics are about learning. TechTrends, 59(1), 64-71.

Academia, AcAdv, Learning Community, Professional Development, Reflections, SAchat

Your Digital Self & Online Community: Let’s Twitter Chat About It #SAchat & #AcAdv

In my last blog post, I asked if you have thought about your digital self and what it means to be a “resident” in various spaces and places online.  This is a common question I pose and ponder with higher ed colleagues and friends I work with, connect with online, meet face-to-face, and now as I collaborate on research looking at Networked Communities of Practice. When it comes to digital participation there is no right or wrong. That being said, sometimes I think of this quote from the Sydney MCA as our lives continue to evolve online:

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Last year, the TED Radio Hour podcast featured TED speakers who dug into what it means to be digital and connected in its two-part episode, Screen Time, Part I and Part 2The segments dive into how the digital version of ourselves are impacting who we are. There is one quote, in particular, that resonated with me from Jon Ronson’s segment in Part 2:

“The way we are defined on social media, on the Internet, and on Google has become more important than who we actually are as people.”

Ronson’s TED talk presents ideas he writes about in his book So You’ve Been Publically Shamed. His segment “How can our real lives be ruined by our digital ones?” discusses how the online self is impacting our offline self. With the recent US election, there are no shortages of examples of tasteless social media shares and volatile toned posts displayed online. The election is not the cause of this behavior; however, these type of actions and interactions within the higher ed community online are disheartening. If you are presenting your actual self online (and not an anonymous profile/account) the expression “in real life” or “IRL” no longer applies. What we do inside the screen does impact our life beyond the screen. What happens digitally and on the Internet IS IN REAL LIFE (exit distance worker soapbox rant for now).

As Inger puts it very well, there are some “academic assholes in the circles of niceness.” If you are on the social web and in higher ed, there is no doubt that you have witnessed more cruelty than kindness from your colleagues and far less empathy or compassion from your fellow practitioners in online communities.  For many of us who live our working life online, I think “our second selves” are impacting who we are.

Maybe it is also time for some reflection and perhaps a candid discussion about our digital self and our online communities. Thanks to two online communities — #SAchat and #AcAdv — we’re going to get real and talk these issues in higher ed in these upcoming Twitter Chats:

#SAchat TOPIC:

Personal and Professional Identity on Social Media & Online

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Thursday, December 1, 2016 for the DAYTIME #SAchat from 12-1 pm CDT; Follow @The_SA_Blog on Twitter

Let’s discuss what it means to “grow up” professionally online and offline in higher education. What motivates you to interact, engage, and share? What social networks and hashtags do you connect with for your work in student affairs and higher ed? Has being online impacted what you do professionally or personally? Share with us about your own digital identity development, specifically how it influences who you are and your work on campus. 

  • MOD for the DAYTIME #SAchat (12/1/6); TOPIC: Personal and Professional Identity on #SocialMedia & Online [Chat Transcript ARCHIVE]

#AcAdv Chat TOPIC:

Learning Online With And From A Community of Peers

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Tuesday, December 6, 2016 for the #AcAdv Chat from 12-1 pm CDT; Follow @AcAdvChat on Twitter

Let’s have a conversation about how online networks and digital spaces support your professional and personal well-being. Where do you learn online? What communities contribute to your work and success in #higher ed? Tell us how these networked communities offer resources, share ideas, and offer care for you, your professional role, and your personal growth.

  • MOD for the #AcAdv Chat (12/6/16); TOPIC: Learning Online With & From A Community of Peers [Chat Transcript ARCHIVE]

If you work in higher education and care about these issues, please join in on one or both discussions on Thursday (12/1) and next Tuesday (12/6). We look forward to hearing what you have to say on the topics…Twitter Chat soon!

Do you have questions about this or our research team, please feel free to contact us or suggest a way you would like to collaborate!

AcAdv, AdvTech, StudentAffairs

Supporting Learners with Technology: Perceptions and Practices of Technology in Advising

It is a critical time to assess how campus stakeholders are employing digital resources to scaffold learners beyond the course curriculum and learning environments. A growing number of colleges and universities want to advance how they offer student support using technology outside the “classroom.” This campus change is impacting more student success and academic advising programs as they consider the best technology to provide advising content and service delivery for learner-centered approaches. By researching technological trends and challenges, conducting campus-wide assessments, and establishing strategic plans, higher education stakeholders can effectively integrate technology into student support practices to align with individual advising objectives and to further the goals of the institution.

#advtech

Surveying Institutional Perceptions and Practices on Advising
 To understand the impact technology has on student support and practice The Global Community for Academic Advising (NACADA) association, specifically the NACADA Technology in Advising Commission sponsors semi-regular surveys for the NACADA membership (e.g. 2002, 2007, and 2011). In 2013 a new survey instrument was designed to capture data, specifically to identify how higher education advising staff and senior administration employ technology to support their practices. A total of 990 respondents completed the survey; however 65% identified as an academic advisor/counselor. The other respondent’s role on campus included advising administrators (22%) and faculty (4%).

Key findings from this study:

  • Top 3 advising technologies: desktop computers, campus storage networks, & Wi-Fi
  • Technology tools/platforms the institution wants advisors to use: learning management systems (46%) and laptops (40%)
  • Technology tools/platforms utilized by advisors: 24% use scanners and 23% use social networks (e.g. Twitter and Facebook).
  • Advisors communicate with technology (daily) primarily with: other academic advisors/counselors (86.35%) and students (89.88%).
  • Advisors less frequently use technology to communicate with: academic administrators (58.08%), faculty (47.22%), & student affairs administrators (37%).
  • Daily advising practices include: e-mail (99%); face-to-face interactions (91%); locally installed word processor, spreadsheets, etc. (80%); phone (73%) and Facebook (30%).
  • Less frequently used advising technology (< 2%): licensed video-conferencing (e.g. Adobe Connect, Wimba, Zoom), retention software, photo-sharing websites, and podcasts.

Overall, we found the advising community communicates with campus stakeholders across their institutions and to stay connected to professional peers outside the institution:

  • 70-90% think advising technology supports information distribution on campus, and sharing knowledge and maintaining connections within higher education.
  • 24% indicated that advising technology tools do not help with communication and student scheduling.
  • 80-92% believe advising technology helps them work faster and more efficiently, produce higher quality work, store advising information, simplifies the academic advising administrative processes, and contributes positively to their academic advising role.

Technology Needs to be Location-Free, Build Rapport, and Use Current Systems

When asked what their “ideal technology in advising practice” to support students and advising functions, respondents wanted advising technology to:

  • Be integrated into current systems and existing campus technologies.
  • Create opportunity and access for student support and advising regardless of physical location, time, etc.
  • Help build an advising rapport, make connections, and support communication.
  • Support transparent knowledge sharing and degree completion information.
  • Scaffold effective online and blended models of academic advising.
  • Address the needs and challenges related to advisor and learner preferences and/or practices for student support/services.
  • Capture the holistic view of the student learning experience, which is essential to enhance academic advising practices and institutional outcomes.

It is imperative that campus decisions about technology and learning also include design and delivery methods that are inclusive of academic advising needs. From this research, it there is both a need and desire to improve front-line advising and student support practices in higher education using technology. Beyond soliciting input during the technology purchasing and implementation phase, institutions need to consider HOW student support is organized and ASSESS current advising practices and models.

To integrate or update technology for advising, our institutions will need to also consider how they will provide additional support, offer advisors training, and create job aids or resources to scaffold technology use for the students, staff, and faculty user experience. In the efforts to expand this research and distribute this knowledge for higher education technology for advising, the survey instrument, data, and white paper (also shared on Academia.edu) from this study are shared by the researchers with a Creative Commons license. Thanks for the support of the NACADA #AdvTech Commission, and co-author George Steele.

Reference:
Pasquini, L. A., & Steele, G. (2016). Technology in academic advising: Perceptions and practices in higher education. figshare. Retrieved from https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.3053569.v7

Note: A version of this blog post was also shared on the NACADA Blog and the WCET Blog. In the coming months, I look forward to working with research collaborators on an updated version and replication of this study.  

AcAdv, Higher Education, Learning, Professional Development, Social Media

Bringing Our Personality and Self(ie) to the Online

You can’t help but bring yourself to anything you are passionate about. I truly believe this.

Self-Love

This past week has brought conversation and debate prompted from a single blog post about The role of personality in education. Thank you, Martin. This post shared thoughts on how individual courses emerged with a “cult of personality” to drive it towards success, collaboration, interaction and then some. For these type of MOOCs, the learning design was intentionally focussed on the characters (Yes. Dave and Jim are characters… who I adore) to encourage participation and community in the vast Interwebs:

To be successful they often require someone with a well established online network to gather enough momentum, and because creating successful cMOOCs is hard work, that person usually needs to really be central in driving the course forward. And when this works well, it really does create a very engaging learning community.” ~ @mweller

I really think the “chalk and talk” can and should be changed for effective teaching and learning. This will take time, and much more than a popular face and/or a shiny technological platform to alter the culture of teaching and learning in higher education (online, blended OR F2F).:

…an understanding that public service is only a part of identity, and thus the educators who are engaging emergent technologies in the name of pedagogy and content need to be able and willing to build connections and relationships between the formal requirements of the educational system with the personal transformation of each individual.” ~ @RMoeJo

Of course, these ideas about personality and lead personalities are not always representative of the spectrum of learning we see leading these initiatives in higher ed. Social media has created opportunities for unique and powerful collaborations; however they have limited a voice from other populations. There are a number of flaws in elevating pedestals in online learning. Thanks for the reminder Kate, I appreciate her post to consider how we  reward and recognize privilege in our domain:

And on campus, we struggle with personality across student surveys and intellectual property policies: we haggle over the idea of the individual as creator of educational content whose expertise is the guarantee of student experience, while setting up procedures to assure the depersonalisation of content production so that students are protected from the vagaries of charm. Personality: can’t live with it, can’t live without it.” ~ @KateMfD

I am not naive in thinking a number of these social mediums and emerging technologies often influence the network, create affinity groups, and allow lead personalities to dominate. However; I am reminded these same social networks permit educators to customize student experiences, collaborate with researchers, and  build meaningful relationships to scaffold learning and inquiry.

A couple of weeks ago, I shared with student development and academic advising faculty/staff the only way I know how to best engage in what I do. To be myself, specifically, how to model your persona in the online to support student success and professional development on campus. In the #AdvSelfie session, we discussed how it is important, more than ever, to be present and engaged in the digital. More than ever we need to ask questions, be involved, and participate in the backchannel conversations happening at and around out institutions.

Mentoring and modelling online is the key to success for all in higher education — this includes our academic staff/faculty, administrators, staff, educators, and students of all educational levels. In an effort to engage in this dialogue, I challenged participants at the #NACADAmelb and other professional/faculty in higher ed online to BE PRESENT. This challenge stemmed from a 30-day challenge for those who are active online (or should be). To be the example for others on campus, I encouraged the advising group (hey – we all advise one way or another) to be the example with The #AdvSelfie Challenge – so you should probably participate as well:

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The #AdvSelfie Challenge: Post your best selfie showing how you mentor and model your online persona for your #highered campus (students, staff & faculty) with the hashtag #AdvSelfie before July 31, 2015 at 11:59 pm CDT. Prizes WILL be awarded … so get creative!

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UPDATE 08-14-15: And the winners of the #AdvSelfie Challenge Are….

Thanks to all of you who participated in The #AdvSelfie Challenge! It’s been great to see how you share some of yourself to colleagues, students, faculty and friends on campus. Kudos for being the digital mentors and models we need in higher ed!

Congratulations to the following “winners” of The #AdvSelfie Challenge:

Sara Ackerson, Washington State University Vancouver, WA: For reminding her colleagues and students to laugh and find the best things in others for success.

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Amanda Mather, Texas A & M University at Qatar: For sharing who inspires and mentors her own advising career in high education.

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John Sauter, Niagara University, NY: For connecting his university and professional advising community in WNY to be active participants and engage online.

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All winners will receive in the mail their own copy of the What Happens on Campus Goes on YouTube book shortly.

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Thanks for showing your #advselfie! Keep on supporting & being present online for your campus communities. Happy reading, y’all.

AcAdv, Higher Education

The Future of Advising

This week I am at the NACADA’s International Conference, Melbourne, Australia (#NACADAmelb) with The Global Community for Academic Advising. Today our panel (George, Catherine, Jennifer, and myself) started a conversation around the following prompt: “The Future of Advising: Current and Past Predictions to Shape Our Future.” This panel was designed to poke at the issues and uses of technology in higher education for student support, academic advising, and personal tutoring. Much of the discussion was focussed on the Lowenstein’s chapter, Envisioning the Future (as shared in What’s On the Horizon for Academic Advising? recorded lecture), and Steele’s article, Five Possible Future Work Profiles for Full-time Academic Advisors, specifically to address the following issues with advising:

  1. If advising is teaching, how will technology assist in its delivery?
  2. How will technology shape the role of advising as a profession?
  3. How will current trends such as “big data,” “predictive/learning analytics,” and financial support in higher education impact advising? 

Although this international conference holds a variety of perspectives and definitions for academic advising, students support needs and challenges in our post-secondary institutions are very similar. Regardless of geographic location or educational systems, collaboratively we can benefit from our collective experiences just like the innovators who created the digital revolution (Isaacson, 2014).

Themes emerging from our discussions included student support needs, advising responsibility and workflow, peer tutoring/advising roles and models, change literacy, leadership strategy with change, and cultural considerations. Most often people want to talk about the shiny, bullet (technology) solution, but really there are a number of other considerations for the future of advising and students support in higher ed that go beyond a platform or application.  With this panel discussion, we really wanted to provide a springboard to dive into the issues relevant to advising, beyond technological solutionism.

RobotsJob

Fortunately for us, we had a number of brilliant administrators and faculty at our #NACADAmelb session who asked insightful questions and prompts we should think deeper about. I will leave these questions here for you to ponder as you consider what lies ahead for the future of advising and student support in higher education:

    • Will there be a future?
    • Advising is such a personal, developmental relationship. How can technology – any technology – deliver better than a real person?
    • How do we engage and keep students engaged in online advising?
    • Will academic advising ever be part of a strategic plan?
    • Will advising ever be rewarded like research or teaching?
    • How do we effectively support students?
    • How do we use our data to predict future trends and be more proactive in a digital and physical advising environment?
    • How can technology be used to support student advising?
    • What are the best exemplars in the field?
    • How do we keep the pace with the communication styles and needs for our learners?
    • What are the best tips and tricks for distance education advising?
    • How will the status of advising, as a profession worldwide, be valued?
    • What are the pedagogical and theoretical underpinnings the global community of advising (NACADA) should consider?
    • When will robots be able to do my job? [Find out.]

References

Isaacson, W. (2014). The Innovators. How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution. New York: Simon & Shuster.

Lowenstein, M. (2013). Chapter 14: Envisioning the future. In J. K. Drake, P.   Jordan, M. A. Miller(Eds.), Academic advising approaches: Strategies that teach students to make the most of college. (pp. 243-258). San Francisco,  CA: Jossey-Bass

Pasquini, L. A. (2015, February 22). What’s on the horizon for academic advising? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkGgsJrRZMg

Steele, G.E. (2006). Five possible future work profiles for full-time academic advisors, NACADA Journal, 26(2), 48-64.