IS 4220.01 Final Reflection

With the Spring semester coming to an end, it is time to reflect back on my work, specifically what I have done to contribute to the Signature Project class. What does it mean to reflect? For me, this means to actively think back on everything I have done for this course. How have I contributed? What have I learned? Would I recommend enrolling in this course? This reflection period is not necessarily to just list all that I have done, but to note the importance of that work. There is always a deeper meaning, and as I reflect back on this course, I must understand the meaning behind my work.

In this reflection, I will be reflecting back on the course and the Habits of Mind that I practiced over the last three months. The Habits of Mind must be kept into consideration because they are used to assess the effectiveness of these courses. There are four benchmarks that gauge the level of engagement students experience in general education classes. In this reflection, I will be giving specific examples and recall times when I practiced each Habit of Mind in this IS 4220.01 Signature Project class. Before jumping into the Habits of Mind, I am going to describe the various activities I undertook in the process of articulating, developing, planning, and implementing our signature project.

Three months ago, seven of us sat down in desks arranged in a circle, and read the description of the course. We began discussing what the current PSU first year experience entails. Each of us reflected back on our first year experience and the strengths of that experience, and areas of improvement. We began having an open conversation about the college application process and how stressful it is. I engaged in multiple conversations in class with my peers that helped us come to the consensus that would soon lead us to the journey map.

Our next step was to meet with Enrollment Management and learn what they do for the school in terms of creating the first year experience. We soon learned that Enrollment Management had an internal document called a “journey map” that they use to keep track of the stages and progress made in prospective student’s college onboarding processes. It dawned on us, that if we made this document public, available for first year students’ themselves to see, maybe then that would ease the college on boarding process.

Purposeful Communication

Purposeful communication is creating meaning through our interactions with people. Purposeful communication, whether is be verbal or nonverbal, can either spread knowledge, foster understanding, or aid in changing others’ beliefs/attitudes. Within this Habit of Mind, there are four signposts that reflect this habit. Those signposts include awareness of context, comprehension, purposeful expression, and effective application of strategies for communication. Across this semester, there are many times where I expressed purposeful communication through these various signposts.

The main signpost that I want to reflect on is awareness of context. I chose to reflect on this signpost specifically because I feel this signpost guided our signature project. Awareness of context means at the very basic level, people interpret messages differently based on their backgrounds. I practiced purposeful communication, through my awareness of context, when creating the language that is written in our interactive journeymap. I was cognizant that each first year student comes from culturally different backgrounds. Some students may be first generation, some may be international students, and some may come from a family where higher education is normal. Knowing that each student may interpret messages in different ways, I chose to create language in our journey map as basic as possible. For example, I wrote “ here are some resources to learn more about our school”. Before I wrote something like “ here are some resources to entice you to come to our school”, but I realized that language can be seen as forceful and persuasive. Instead, I chose to use language that could be interpreted by everyone as inviting and friendly.

Another place where I practiced purposeful communication can be seen through the signpost of purposeful expression. Purposeful expression means the ability to organize information from sources to then create a clear message. Purposeful expression can be seen all throughout our journey map. Specifically, I used purposeful expression when I hyperlinked information. “See further up here” in the campus environment stage is purposely hyperlinked to a Plymouth State made video promoting the University. Rather than explaining how our campus is unlike the rest, I chose to use a video to purposefully express that.

Problem Solving

Problem solving is explained as the iterative process of identifying problems and finding possible solutions. Within this Habit of Mind, there are four signposts; problem framing, challenge identification, plan development, and decision-making and revision, and evaluation of progress. Throughout this semester, we did nothing but problem solve. We worked collaboratively to identify weaknesses, or problems, and then brainstormed possible best fit solutions. For example, we identified that the school website is an issue, and worked towards finding a solution. That solution would be our interactive journey map.

One signpost of problem solving that I practiced is evaluation of progress. Throughout the development process of our journey map, I evaluated our progress continuously. Once each prototype of the map was created, I tested the journey map, and identified if any progress had been made. Not only did I test our prototypes for progress, but I engaged in conversations in class to determine whether or not we had made progress, and how to continue to make progress. Since the design process is iterative, we continuously tested our prototypes and had to evaluate if whether or not our journey map is on the road to achieving our desired outcomes.

Integrated Perspective

This Habit of Mind is characterized by the recognition that individuals beliefs and values are influenced by their experiences. I interpret this Habit of Mind in a very simple way. Our Signature Project class practiced Integrative Perspective simply because we each study different disciplines and bring a variety of perspectives to the table. In this Habit of Mind there are several signposts that exist. Those signposts are self awareness, perspective seeking, interconnectedness, and collaboration.

This semester, I have practiced a great amount of self awareness. Self awareness is being cognizant that my beliefs and values stem from my personal experiences. One specific time when I practiced self awareness was when our class was deciding if we wanted to pursue the journey map. I realized that the reason why I wanted to focus on an external journey map is because I wish I had one available during my application process. My reasoning for wanting to pursue our signature project idea came from my past experiences and belief that the college onboarding process should be less stressful.

Another signpost of integrated perspective that I practiced this semester is collaboration. Our Signature Project relied on our class’s ability to work collaboratively. I actively articulated my perspectives to my classmates, and I actively listened to others’ opinions and perspectives as well.  On the first day of class, I realized my ability to work with others will determine the success of our project. I am grateful I learned the value of working collaboratively since this will be an incredibly useful skill to have for my future professional life. One specific example of my collaboration is when our class discussed how we wanted to present our work on our poster. As a group, we had to come to an agreement on what we wanted to say in each section. Here, I carefully listened to what each my classmate’s had to say, and then, further communicated if I agreed or disagreed and why.

Self Regulated Learning

The last Habit of Mind is self regulated learning. This Habit of Mind is characterized by the want to learn, the ability to set goals, and the will to engage in a self-monitored learning process. Self regulated learning has three signposts. Those signposts are responsibility for own learning, engagement in the learning process, and metacognitive awareness. Over the past three months, I can confidently say I have learned the importance of this Habit of Mind, and I have practiced this Habit of Mind often.

One specific time I practiced self regulated learning, specifically engagement in the learning process, is when I researched why the college application process creates so much anxiety. I knew that if I wanted to learn why the process creates such uncomfortableness, I would have to commit to finding out why. From there on, I would sit and take the time to find credible sources on why the college application process creates high stress and anxiety levels. As I took responsibility for engaging in the learning process, I also took responsibility for my own learning in the class. I improved over the course of the semester and engaged in more work outside of the classroom to reach my goals. I set an expectation for myself to do well in the class, and in order to do so, I developed a plan to achieve that goal. I took responsibility for my own learning by developing my personal blog and continuously adding my reflections.

This semester I have gotten out of my comfort zone and truly was in charge of my own learning. What I put into the class was what I was going to get out of it. This class pushed me and tested my limits. I am extremely proud of the work my classmates and I did this semester. I have never had the ability to work on something that goes farther than a Moodle page, something that could actually be implemented into real life. These Habits of Mind will stay with me throughout my last year here at PSU, and hopefully will remain in the back of my head as I develop in my desired profession.

Student Showcase of Research and Engagement

Mark your calendars! Today I presented a research poster for the first time in my college career.

My Signature Project class presented our work for only a short hour, but we managed to speak with a handful of interested viewers. People seemed to really enjoy the work we have done! After a semester long of hard work, it was really humbling to see people actually care and show interest in our project.

It was a great experience. Our class was able to show off our work and speak with various people from around the campus. It was an opportunity to network, and learn about other students’ research. I hope I get another chance to do this again!

IS 4220.01 Design Report

Though our IS 4220.01 course is slowly coming to an end, we want our work to still live on. We worked too hard to just set it aside. So, as the year is dwindling, I wanted to write a design report to act as a written record of our project. I hope others find this report, and use it to continue our work, or inspire them to create their own change. In this report, I will explain the problem we wanted to solve, our design and our design decisions, and lastly, an evaluation of our final interactive journey map.

Our Problem:

Problem Scope

In late January, when the semester was just beginning, a small group of us sat down with Professor LeBlanc, and set our goals for the class. Our signature project course is specifically made to explore “design” and what makes a good design. Also, we were to evaluate the first year experiences here at PSU and design new experiences for future PSU students. While researching online and meeting with current Enrollment Management what the current first year experience is like, we discovered a problem; prospective students have a lot of information to sift through, and finding that most relevant information for them is difficult. So, we needed to find the most fit solution for prospective students. From that day on, our journey to find a solution to our information overload problem began.

Technical Review

Today, there is a great amount of stress and anxiety levels surrounding the college application process. Some reasons include a greater population of high school graduates moving onto college, which leads to higher competition levels, the decrease of affordability of a college education, and pressure from families to perform and get into a “well known” university.

The Admissions and Enrollment Management teams are aware how stressful applying to college can be, and have a couple designs in place to aid in the process. Admissions uses a tool called “Mongoose” to text students and parents about reminders for application deadlines. There are also various emails sent out to students and parents to inform them of the next steps to take. Our school website has various resources for prospective students to use at any step of his/her process. There are plenty of useful tools to help relieve some of the stress, but none where all the information is in the same place. That is where our design comes into play.

Design Requirements

  • Is found within 3 clicks on the PSU website
  • Takes less than 3 clicks to find information in the journey map
  • Easy enough to follow, takes less than 10 minutes to click all the way through
  • Aesthetically rated 6+ on a 10 point scale
  • Rated 8+ on a 10 point scale for PSU branded
  • Hyperlinks include nearly 50% of the text

Design Description

Overview

Our design is a visual, interactive journey map, that guides prospective students through the most critical path of their college application process. How it works is, a prospective student would find it on the PSU website, load it, and click through the stages that are most relevant to them. For example, there are five different stages a prospective student could be at. Depending on that stage, that is what menu they would click. If a student is just in the beginning of the process, unsure if PSU is right for them, they would click the ” I am Ready to Learn about PSU” menu, which would take them to a list of hyperlinked resources that would let them get a feel for PSU. If a student has already been accepted, they would click the “I am Accepted” menu, and find out what the next steps are.

This is the main menu of our interactive journey map. Students would choose the most appropriate stage depending on where they are at in the application process.

Design Decisions

  1. We use informal, simple language
  2. Stay as close as we can to the critical path
  3. PSU branded
  4. Created a main menu with four stages (I am Ready to Learn/I am Ready to Apply/ I am Accepted/ I am Admitted)
  5. We decided to not replicate important information but provide a simplified version of that information and include hyperlinks to the details on the PSU website
  6. Include “back” buttons
  7. Include “speak with admissions” buttons
  8. Created final “ I am ready for classes” closing passage

Use

Our interactive journey map will be used by prospective students of PSU. Parents would also be able to use it, if they are curious about their child’s next steps in the college application process. The journey map could be accessed via computer or mobile device. Students would click on menus most relevant to them, and have options to click on hyperlinked sources to find information regarding whichever stage of the application process they are in.

Evaluation

Overview

Our plan for evaluating our design was based by experimental testing of a prototype. We created various prototypes, and critiqued them according to the feedback we received from the Admissions, MCCS and Student Enrollment teams.

Prototype

We began by individually, creating a prototype for our sections. This is my prototype for the “Inquiry” stage.
Our next step was to put our prototypes together, and make one journey map.
After testing our prototype, we realized there were still some sections to add, our next phase was to add all the needed information to build our final prototype.
Our most recent final draft of the journey map.

The design process is iterative. It took us many trials and errors to put together our final journey map. It started out from post-it notes on the board, to stories on the application “Twine”, to reorganizing our work on the chalk board, and then many presentations to the Student Enrollment team. From that process is how we came to our most final edition of the journey map.

So, What are the Next Steps?

Going forward, we need to figure out where this journey map will go once the semester ends. Will we hand it over to Admissions? MCCS? Who will make sure the links stay updated? These are all very important questions we need to find the answers to. One thing is for certain, we want to see our interactive journey map be implemented in the first year experience. We want our design to do its intended job, and make the college application process a little more simple.

Our class will be presenting a poster in the Student Showcase of Research and Engagement on May 2nd, from 2-5pm, if you would like to learn more about our work. We hope to see you there!

Texting is the Future for Higher Education. Who Would Have Thought?

Text messaging is revolutionizing the way we communicate – Sophorn Chay

PSU Admissions currently uses Mongoose to communicate with prospective students.

With the current population of incoming college applicants, the primary method of communicating is via text messages. What I proposed for my personal research project in my IS 4220.01 class, is PSU should recognize this trend, and use it to make the on boarding process easier for incoming students. Student callers exist, and I believe student texters should as well.

I first looked into the stress and anxiousness that surrounds the college application process. I wondered, what makes students the most overwhelmed? Thinking back to my personal experience, the answer is easy; information overload. Not only was I completely swamped by facts and figures, but I felt I couldn’t reach out to anyone at admissions. I didn’t know who to contact, and I definitely didn’t feel comfortable enough to just pick up the phone and start conversation. This led me to think- what if I was able to simply text a current PSU student at any time of the day?

Last semester, I explored the online disinhibition effect. When proposing this idea to Enrollment Management, I noted its relevance. Prospective students may engage in benign disinhibition, and feel more comfortable to disclose information, and ask questions they might not feel comfortable asking an administrator. Not only would potential PSU students feel more comfortable texting, but they would be able to get help at any point in the day.

These “student texters” would not be confined to the normal work hours of the day. Instead, prospective students would be able to receive help from morning, until dusk. There are obviously the most appropriate times to send messages and when to answer messages, but that determination would be at the student texter’s discretion.

I sat down with the director of Admissions today and discussed the possibility of this being implemented at PSU. Our meeting went really well, and if we can legally make it work, this will become a part of the PSU first year experience.

Almost There

Right now I am feeling a sense of relief. After months of learning about design, user experience, and the application process for first year students here at PSU, my peers and I have almost reached the finish line.

Keep in mind our class is in no way, experienced designers. We are not experts in WordPress, HTML coding, or even in problem solving. We aren’t professionals in public speaking, research, or blogging. But here we are. Here I am. We have been unafraid to fail and learn from it, and adamant on seeing our work through.

I am proud of my IS 4220.01 team and the work that we each have brought forth to create this concept and bring it to the level of attention it is receiving now.

Click “Final Interactive Journey Map” at the top of this post, and test our work out.

We still have a couple strides left to take, but I can’t help but take this deep breath of air right now.

Spreading the Word

Yesterday, I had the opportunity to sit down with a Content Manager from the Marketing and Create Services Office here at Plymouth State and share with him the work that my classmates and I are doing for our signature project.

Peter was seeking out information about the class that supports the notion that Plymouth State is ahead of its counterparts in terms of providing an education unlike any other.

For what our class is trying to accomplish, it is important to spread the word. We need help from every community here on campus. We are open to hear the feedback, the support, and the critique.

Sitting down with Peter allowed for our work to get some recognition. I am very proud to be a part of this experience and work alongside other students across different disciplines.

Our class is super excited to finalize our product, and see this project be successfully implemented in the on boarding process for first year students.

Let’s keep spreading the word!!



Taking the Next Step

Our drawn out interactive journey map prototype

“Five more minutes” I remember thinking to myself. In a short matter of time my peers and I would present our prototype to our clients, in hopes of “wowing” them. This had been my first experience building a prototype so I was anxious to hear the feedback we would soon receive.

Soon enough, we got the answer we were seeking; the green light to further our idea. They loved it! Our prototype of an interactive journey map accessible for prospective students was a hit! After we showed them our initial ideas, the question was asked, “ so what is the next step?

The great part about design is that it is iterative. We don’t need to strike gold in the beginning stages, rather success is something we can build and find over time. Though our clients loved our idea, we need to make things more definite. That is our next step.

In the next week, we scheduled to meet with the heads of the Marketing team here at PSU to share our prototype and discuss how they can assist in the development of our interactive journey map. Our next step involves completely mapping out the journey map design, and how we would like to see this being used in the future.

Stay tuned to see what comes next….

What’s Your Why?

I went a little outside of my comfort zone this semester. The past three years I have been taking classes, because I had to; they were required. But, this semester, I made a choice. I enrolled in IS 4220.01, a signature project course that is considered a GenEd capstone, a class I did not have to take. I am nearly 4 weeks into the semester and it has just now hit me. Why?

I initially signed up for this course because it fit with my schedule, and I was familiar with the professor. But now, after numerous class discussions, I have realized there’s more to it than that.

My class has engaged in a couple discussions that really resonated with me. The takeaways that I have recently gained I believe are worth sharing.

We make choices everyday that will build us into the people we want to be. For me, I want to become an employee that companies want to hire. How do I get there? The answer is by taking classes like IS 4220.01.

So far I have learned how to work collaboratively with an open mind and a creative view. I have gained knowledge in design, and practiced my problem solving skills. These are all basic understandings employers hear daily. To set myself apart from the masses, I need to go a little deeper.

I signed up for this class for the experience. I’m passionate about learning, and establishing a successful career. Using this blog, publishing my work, that is why I am in this class. Becoming familiar with WordPress will allow for my work to get noticed and shared.

So, to go back to the beginning, I am in this class because I want to be. I am excited to continue my education, starting with going outside of my comfort zone. What is your why?

Studies in Communication and Media

Click the attachment to view some of my work. Bipolar Depression Research Paper

  1. This paper exemplifies the CMS objective, Read/Write/Listen. I believe this research paper greatly supports this objective because the sole purpose of this paper was to show that I read research, was able to understand that research, and write about it in my own words.
  2. I chose this particular artifact because I felt that this was the most raw paper I have ever written. It touches on an important subject, and wanted to share it. Freshman year at Plymouth State, I was assigned to write a research paper on any topic. I chose Bipolar depression. Mental health is a subject that people are often times afraid to talk about, and I wanted to research why, and why there is such a stigma around it.
  3. This artifact shows my successful completion of this object because it shows in my wiring. In my piece, I present a myriad of examples and facts. Citing my sources in my paper exemplifies my ability to read scholarly articles. Then explaining those sources and relating it back to my paper shows my ability to write. In my introduction paragraph, I used a quote from one of my good friends. This quote is real, and uncensored. Implementing this quote shows that I listened to my source, and listened because I genuinely cared. I listened and then used that content for my paper.