Summer 2006

The Communicator :: Summer 2006

MTSU students participate in 2005 ECAR study (conclusion) by Tom Brinthaupt

In this report, I first present a summary of the major trends from MTSU's participation in the 2005 EDUCAUSE Center for Applied Research (ECAR) study. Then, I report the major demographic and academic data comparing MTSU students to the other students in the ECAR survey. In the final section, I discuss some possible explanations and interpretations for the observed trends when taking the demographic and academic characteristics into account.

Summary of MTSU Results from the 2005 ECAR Study

Following are the concise summaries of the major trends from MTSU's participation in the 2005 ECAR study as reported in Part 1 and Part 2 of this article series.

MTSU students compared to other students - Our students are somewhat behind the curve in their use of new technologies, at least in terms of owning electronic devices, time spent "connected,"; and rated skill levels. However, like students at other institutions, our students were favorable toward the use of IT in their courses.

MTSU seniors compared to MTSU freshmen - Our freshmen tended to report greater use of electronic devices for pleasure and nonacademic purposes, whereas MTSU seniors reported greater use of electronic devices for academic purposes. Compared to freshmen, seniors are exposed to more IT in their courses and rate IT as more beneficial to their learning. Freshmen and seniors varied in their rated IT skills.

MTSU seniors compared to other seniors - Compared to other seniors, MTSU seniors generally showed less frequent adoption and use of new technologies and rated themselves as somewhat less proficient at a variety of activities and applications. However, our seniors tended to be more favorable toward technology in their courses, especially with regard to the test-taking, assignments, and grading features of WebCT.

MTSU freshmen compared to other freshmen - Compared to other freshmen, our freshmen also generally showed less frequent adoption and use of new technologies. Compared to the senior data, the freshmen skill level data painted a more positive picture of how our freshmen stand compared to their peers. Like the senior data, our freshmen found the WebCT test-taking and assignments features more valuable than the communication features.

MTSU Student Demographics from the ECAR Survey

How did MTSU students compare to the other students in the ECAR survey on their demographic and academic characteristics?

Gender: Approximately 70% of the MTSU sample was female, slightly higher than the 66% female in the entire ECAR sample. There were slightly more female MTSU seniors (71%) than other female seniors (66%), with equal numbers (66%) of MTSU and other female freshmen.

Age: A lower percentage of MTSU respondents (55%) were traditional students (18-22 years of age) compared to the entire sample (78%). This pattern was similar for both MTSU seniors (38%) compared to other seniors (65%) and MTSU freshmen (84%) compared to other freshmen (95%).

GPA: A lower percentage of MTSU students (29%) reported high GPAs (3.50 - 4.00) than other students (35%). This GPA pattern was similar for both MTSU seniors (30%) compared to other seniors (37%) and MTSU freshmen (28%) compared to other freshmen (33%).

Course load: A higher percentage of our respondents (16%) were part-time (less than 12 hours) compared to the other respondents (7%). More MTSU seniors (18%) were part-time students than other seniors (10%), and more MTSU freshmen (13%) were part-timers than other freshmen (4%).

Living arrangement: The number of MTSU students who lived off campus (82%) was much higher than the other ECAR respondents (51%). A higher percentage of MTSU seniors (92%) lived off campus than other seniors (75%), and many more MTSU freshmen (64%) lived off campus than other freshmen (22%).

Academic major: The academic major data are difficult to interpret as over a quarter of the MTSU respondents (28%) chose the "other"; category (15% of the remaining ECAR respondents chose this option). Somewhat more MTSU than other respondents were business majors (21% vs. 18%), and there were fewer MTSU than other respondents who majored in engineering/computer science (6% vs. 11%), the humanities (5% vs. 11%), and the social sciences (12% vs. 19%). There were similar percentages of education, fine arts, life sciences, physical sciences, and undecided majors for both MTSU and other students.

In summary, compared to the other students in the ECAR survey, MTSU students were older, had lower GPAs, were more likely to be part-time, and were more likely to be living off campus.

Tying it all Together: Interpretations and Conclusions

What do these trends tell us about our students, faculty, and instructional technology? I met with Lucinda Lea, vice president for Information Technology and CIO, and Barbara Draude, director of Academic and Instructional Technology Services, for their take on the survey findings. We discussed several possible interpretations and implications during our meeting.

It is important to keep in mind the characteristics of the MTSU student respondents when interpreting the survey results. If more of our students are older, working, and living off campus than students at other institutions (as both the freshmen and senior data indicate), then all of these factors are likely to affect adoption and use of instructional technologies. Our students may therefore be less able to afford the latest electronic marvels or may have less time to devote to learning these technologies. Students who live off campus are also likely to be more limited or restricted in their access to campus technology resources and services. For example, living on campus makes it easier to access ITD support services, the 24/7 lab, and discipline-specific tools and programs.

What does the future hold for our students' use of instructional technologies? On the one hand, MTSU student demographic characteristics are unlikely to change dramatically in the near future. On the other hand, as elementary and secondary schools increase their use of new technologies, our incoming students should be more knowledgeable about and familiar with those technologies. Of course, unless our existing campus IT support staff increases in size and resources, there will continue to be barriers to greater faculty and student use of instructional technologies.

Another factor to consider is the extent to which our faculty members are fully engaged in integrating technology resources in their teaching and learning. Whereas the ECAR survey did not sample faculty members' technology usage, it may be the case that our faculty members have been slow in adopting new technologies. Accrediting agencies, such as SACS, are increasingly incorporating instructional technology infrastructure and resources in their assessment and evaluation criteria. So, it is very likely that our faculty will need to increase their use of these technologies.

The fact that our students have more favorable attitudes toward WebCT's test-taking, grades, and assignments features than its communication features may simply reflect greater faculty usage of those features. It may also reflect the fact that our faculty rely more on the convenience aspects of WebCT than as a means to change their teaching methodologies. How many of our faculty members currently use the communication capabilities of new technologies? How many of our faculty members see the technologies as learning tools and as ways to improve their teaching? We do not have any data that address these questions. However, ITD is preparing to conduct a faculty survey that will provide these data.

Regarding the differences between our freshmen and seniors, it is possible that lower-division and general education courses have less integration of technology, which may explain why freshmen report less frequent use of electronic devices for academic purposes. Although introductory-level courses tend to be larger than upper-division ones, size does not have to be an obstacle to incorporating technologies. And if our incoming students are indeed more knowledgeable about and familiar with those technologies, then our lower-division offerings will need to increase their technology usage.

Many educators believe that hybrid courses (i.e., courses that include the best of both face-to-face and online components) will be the dominant course delivery approach in the future. A typical hybrid course might meet face-to-face only once or twice a week rather three times a week. When students can access lectures, readings, and other course material online, more time can be devoted to in-class exercises, discussions, and applications pertaining to the course content. Because a shift to hybrid courses has the added advantage of making it easier for an institution to use limited classroom space, more of our faculty might benefit by adopting this emerging model.

Dr. Tom Brinthaupt is the ITD faculty intern for 2005-2006. He is a professor of psychology.

Conference celebrates 11 years

More than 300 higher education professionals from 23 states attended the eleventh annual Instructional Technology Conference on the MTSU campus. The theme of the conference was "Fostering Successful Learning."; The event is organized and sponsored by ITD.

Featured speakers at the conference were Stephen Downes, senior researcher for online learning at the National Research Council in Canada; Susan Metros, professor of visual design technology, deputy chief information officer, and executive director for eLearning at The Ohio State University; and Robert Kvavik, professor of political science and associate vice president at the University of Minnesota and senior fellow of the EDU-CAUSE Center for Applied Research.

The conference included more than 50 presentations, hands-on workshops, and poster session presentations.

The event ended with a roundtable luncheon for MTSU faculty members who participated in the conference. The luncheon discussion topic was "'Use' versus 'Integration' of Instructional Technology in Fostering Successful Learning.";

Out with the old, in with the new

As the world of technology marches onward to newer and faster products, many of the older versions must be left behind. Microsoft has announced that support is ending for Windows 98 and Windows ME. Mainstream support of each OS has been retired for several years, but as of June 30 this year driver support, technical support, and critical security updates will be discontinued.

In keeping with the manufacturer's changes, ITD has announced support changes as well. ITD has also discontinued support for Windows 98 and Windows ME. Newer hardware such as PDAs and printers are not compatible with these versions, and current software programs only offer installations for Windows 2000/XP. With patches no longer being released for security threats, the integrity of Window 98/ME can no longer be guaranteed.

But the Windows platforms are not the only ones affected. Support for older Macintosh versions previous to OS 9.2 will also be ended, as current software, hardware, and support resources for Macs are focused on versions of OS X and the major platform change that came with this series.

These changes will not only affect faculty and staff but students as well. After the end of the spring semester, laptops that are running these operating systems will no longer be allowed access to the wireless network through Clean Access in order to maintain the security of the MTSU network.

After two installments of the Desktop Replacement Program upgrading the oldest computers on campus, the impact of these changes in support are expected to be minimal. However, if you would like to discuss the use of one of these operating systems, please contact the Help Desk at x5345.

Recent Enhancements to Automated Directory

The PhoneticOperator, MTSU after-hours automated directory service, has recently been upgraded and rescripted, providing a more refined caller experience. With the enhancements, not only will callers be presented with a list of options on information that can be requested, but they will also notice that menus are customized to reflect available information. Prior to the rescript, callers were given open-ended prompts, forcing them to guess what options were available and how they should vocalize that information. Callers are now presented with an exact list of the options available, removing the guesswork and allowing for a more timely and productive experience. Another improvement to the PhoneticOperator is the addition of a star HotKey. With this addition, callers are able to press the star (*) key at any time during their call to return to the main menu.

Telecommunication Services hopes that callers find the PhoneticOperator to be more user friendly. Information on employees, students, and departments, as well as driving directions, can be found by dialing 5000 from on campus or 898-5000 from off campus, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Educational podcasting is catching on, but what is it?

Myth: You need to own an iPod to listen to or view a podcast.

Truth: You can listen to a podcast on any device/computer that has the capability to play an MP3 file. You will need an Internet connection to download the file initially, but you can copy it to a multitude of devices and media for audio playback.

What is a Podcast?

Podcasting stands for Portable On Demand Broad casting. Podcasts were originally audio-only but may now contain still images, video, and chapters identifying major sections or ideas. An iPod is not needed to listen to a podcast. You can listen to a podcast using any computer connected to the Internet that also has the capability of playing standard MP3 audio files. Once a podcast is downloaded it can be listened to at any time on the computer. Many people also like to copy the podcast to a portable device for playback on the go. Examples of these devices include PDAs (Palm or Pocket PC), iPods, mobile phones, or many other devices that play MP3 files.

According to Wikipedia, a podcast is audio or visual content that is automatically delivered over a network via free subscription. Once subscribed to, podcasts can be regularly distributed over the Internet or within your school's network and accessed with an iPod (or any portable MP3 player), laptop, or desktop computer (both Macs and PCs). Podcasts can be produced with the following resources: a standard computer, a microphone, free software, and a Web site for posting your programming.

The major difference between a podcast and any other audio file stored on the Internet is that podcasts can be subscribed to. Podcasts are published as * RSS feeds. Listeners subscribe to these feeds and are notified of new programs by their ** RSS aggregators. Aggregators can be set to download programs automatically or users can download the podcasts manually.

Staff at the MTSU Faculty Instructional Technology Center have created a Web site that describes educational uses of podcasts and inexpensive, easy-to-use hardware and software that can be used to create your own podcasts: www.mtsu.edu/podcast.

Teaching Ideas

Educational podcasting can be used to extend class time, provide review activities, record student work, and much more. You are only limited by your imagination and your ability to provide a pedagogical basis for its use. The Web site provides examples of podcast use in lectures, recording student work, walking tours, online learning, and professional development. Locating podcasts created by others is also discussed.

*From Wikipedia: RSS is a family of Web feed formats, specified in XML and used for Web syndication. RSS is variously used to refer to the following standards: Really Simple Syndication, Rich Site Summary, and RDF Site Summary. RSS is used by news Web sites, weblogs, and podcasting. Check out the MTSU podcasting Web site for more information.

**From Wikipedia: An aggregator or news aggregator is a type of soft-ware that retrieves syndicated Web content that is supplied in the form of a web feed (RSS, Atom and other XML formats), and that are published by weblogs, podcasts, vlogs, and mainstream mass media websites. Aggregators reduce the time and effort needed to regularly check websites of interest for updates, creating a unique information space or "personal newspaper."; An aggregator is able to subscribe to a feed, check for new content at user-determined intervals, and retrieve the content. The content is sometimes described as being "pulled"; to the subscriber, as opposed to "pushed"; with email or IM. Unlike recipients of some "pushed"; information, the aggregator user can easily unsubscribe from a feed.

Networking update

  • Increased layered security for several servers on campus.
  • Added more servers to the FSA domain to provide more efficient utilization of resources and additional management functions.
  • Additional network added to Fairview building.
  • Connected Tennis Center to the Internet.

ITD staff news

Jonathan Howard has joined ITD as a network support specialist. Jonathan's work includes designing, installing, and maintaining networks. He also assists end users of the academic and administrative computer systems with problem resolution and configuration options.

Previously, Jonathan was an information technology specialist at Quikrete Companies. He earned a bachelor's degree in telecommunication management from DeVry University.

Jonathan lives in Murfreesboro with his wife, Umica, and son, Brandon, and another son on the way!

Jonathan plans on increasing the readiness and effectiveness of the network services department by giving 110 percent each day. In addition, he would like to do his part as a network support specialist and stay abreast of the latest technology, which will continue to provide our students/faculty/staff with a safe and reliable network.

Lakshmi Krishnan has joined ITD as a systems analyst. She is developing Pro*C/Oracle based programs, creating Microsoft Access reports in Banner BlueInfo, and working with senior analysts on several Banner tasks.

Lakshmi previously worked as a programmer analyst with the Tennessee Department of Treasury. She also worked at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.

Lakshmi holds a master's in computer information systems from Eastern Michigan University and a bachelor's in engineering from India. She has Oracle certification in SQL and PL/SQL and Sun Certification in Java.

Lakshmi lives in Murfreesboro with her husband, Vijay, and two-year-old daughter, Sruthi.

Lakshmi looks forward to helping with upcoming ITD projects with a focus on Banner implementation.

Robert Kalwinsky (Electronic Media Communication) and Greg Schaffer (Information Technology Division) had their paper, "Maintaining Normal Communication Operations by Reducing Denial of Service Effects by Worms and Viruses: A Case Study,"; published in the International Engineering Consortium's Annual Review of Communications (Vol. 58).

At the SETA Southeast 2006 Conference in Nashville on March 4-7, 2006, Lisa Rogers copresented two sessions—"Project Management: Things I Wish I Had Known"; and "Data Migration Hints."; BI and BI copresented "Technical Things I Wish I Had Known."; Mary Smith also attended.

Lisa Rogers, Debbie Warren, Teresa Stevenson, and Phyllis Kitzler attended the SUMMIT Conference held in Orlando, Florida on April 2-5.

Banner Enterprise Resource Planning Project Update

Banner Finance Team

Upgrade to the new CORE cash receipting software is close to conversion. This will allow for the continued movement forward of the Banner non-student accounts receivable implementation. The implementation of the Banner fixed assets module is complete. An upgrade to the current procurement card program is currently underway. The purchasing office is starting to receive purchase order requests that relate to FY '07; therefore, Banner finance will open the new fiscal year to allow for these to be entered. Fiscal year end processing training was attended in May.

Banner HR Team

Payroll ran successfully again and developing issues are being worked through as they arise. The HR process team attended training for the Banner Web Time Entry (time keeping module) in April.

Banner Student Team

The team continues to analyze business processes and data migration issues and work through the changes needed, with progress being made in areas to enhance technical training. A new subcommittee to the ERP academic committee was formed for TBR reporting issues. A mock registration is planned before the go live date of fall 2007. The Student Team also attended training in the area of academic history, transfer articulation, and graduation in April and letter generation, population selection, job submission, and object access in May.

Banner Advancement Team

Go live for this system is scheduled for July 2006. Testing began on payroll deductions and working on advancement to financial aid feed interface. Banner Advancement is approaching the finance interface portion of their implementation.

Banner Financial Aid Team

The financial aid process team has done testing on verification documents and plans for testing shared data. Security issues are being addressed using the template from Plus as a guide as the team works with prototype tables. The first financial aid technical training was held in April and disbursement, funds management, and packaging training was conducted in May.

Summation

AppWorx general job scheduler software was installed and is working for finance. It will be implemented for all Banner areas.

Now hear this: be aware of area code fraud alert

There are many telephone hoaxes, past and present, which can render some pricey telephone bills. In most cases, the victim receives an urgent email or voice mail directing them to call a number for more information. While the telephone number may appear to be a domestic number, since you are not required to enter the typical "011"; to begin an international call, you should still use caution. There are some telephone numbers that appear to be domestic telephone numbers but are actually international numbers where international rates apply. Examples include 809, 284, and 876, which are area codes in the Caribbean. The tricky part is that not all phone numbers within these area codes are scams—some are legitimate numbers. If there is ever any doubt about a message you have received that sounds too good to be true, it probably is, and should be disregarded. If you still question whether the call should be returned, area codes can further be verified by visiting the North American Numbering Plan Administration Web site at www.nationalnanpa.com/nas/public/pa_query_step1.do?method=resetNpaReportModel.

Senior systems analyst came back to stay at alma mater

Debbie Warren received her bachelor of business administration degree in information systems from MTSU, and she returned in 1991 to work as a programmer. She states, "The academic world is very different. You either like it or you don't."; She likes that it feels more like a family here than in the corporate world.

Debbie's primary focus in her position currently involves the conversion of the student information system (SIS) into Banner. "Then we'll all be in the same sandbox,"; says Warren, referring to placing student, financial aid, human resources, finance, and admissions and records in the same database.

Her typical workday involves collaborating with a team of individuals selected to work on SIS, who in turn are working closely with TBR. There are standards to maintain that the state will monitor.

The process includes converting information about all students who have attended MTSU since 1946—more than 222,000.

Outside of work, Debbie has many interests. She enjoys reading, cooking, and going to movies, and she's involved in a community Bible study. She has a daughter and son who are grown, so now she has time to devote to what she really enjoys.

Her two passions are Broadway plays and travel. She holds season tickets to TPAC and has recently seen the comedy Hairspray. She also attends plays at Cannon County Center for the Arts.

Having lived in Australia for two years, she longs to travel both abroad and within the states. Desired destinations include Italy, Israel, Germany, and New England in the fall season. Half the fun of travel, says Debbie, is learning about local specialties, and food and simply learning how to navigate a new city.

Though she's not traveling now, Debbie is reminded of faraway places by beautiful photos of lighthouses on her screensaver.

Reflecting upon her life and her job, she says, "I work with a really good set of people. We have a good team that's going to work together and get us there. I'm thankful for that.";

ITD ideas

Where does your course fit in the steps of "online-ness";? Levels of Course Management System (CMS) Integration in College Courses

Faculty Instructional Technology Center staff have developed a Web site, www.mtsu.edu/~onlinelearning, to help faculty identify the different levels of "online-ness"; that they can establish with their courses. The levels include Web-supported courses, Web-enhanced courses, hybrid/blended courses, and totally online courses. Information about creating active learning modules that utilize communication/collaboration, rote learning, simulation, presentation of new topics, gaming/role playing, and student evaluation tools has also been included on this Web site.

Instructors are invited to submit their innovative tips to itdacad@mtsu.edu.

Summer Technology Fellowships

  • Henry Beckett -Recording Industry
  • Jackie Gilbert - Management and Marketing
  • Randy Livingston - Journalism
  • Christine Poythress - Music
  • Gerry Scheffelmaier - BMOM
  • Allison Smith - English