Digital Literacy, Needs Assessment, Networked Practice, privacy, Reflections, technology

My Digital Audit: Where Do I Want to Be Online?

Do you know how much we weave social media platforms and online technology companies into our daily lives? Would it be possible to not live with Google, Facebook, Apple or other technology companies? It’s been something I have been thinking about for a while (like others), and often how much do we test these questions in the wild. If you have not seen the technology blocking experiment conducted by @Gizmodo‘s reporter, Kasmir Hill, you should. Kahsmir tries to take on and live without the technology giants, Amazon, Facebook (which includes owned companies, Whatsapp & Instagram), Google, Microsoft, and Apple. Impressive, right? But is it impossible? Even if you don’t plan to say, “Ciao!,” to these platforms this “Goodbye Big Five” investigation and hands-on reporting will inform you about how much we let these companies invade (most) of our lives, take our money, use our data, and capture our attention.

It is far too easy to sign up or sign on to websites, apps, and platforms with a simple click. No need to read those terms of service agreements. Nah! Also, all you need is my email, mobile phone number or one of those big tech accounts to sign up (e.g. Facebook, Google or Twitter), than why not join? Apps and social media platforms want to make our online user experiences fluid and seamless — which also allows the same platforms and apps to track your digital movement and access your personal data through your connected accounts.

Image c/o Vitor Sá:

For the past 6 years, I have been doing an alright job of tracking of my digital life and auditing where/how I am online. I use a simple spreadsheet to itemize the account name, log in, information, connected accounts, purpose, and more for this digital audit. If interested, here’s a blank spreadsheet you can copy/download to use as you review your apps and online accounts yourself:

Digital/Web Audit TEMPLATE

That being said, it has been a while since I have given it a proper review to include where my personal data lies and maybe the social media apps, online accounts, and forgotten sign-ins that I have not really examined as closely. It is no longer easy to use and a delete button to remove your data from online accounts. Our existence online is more complex and often woven into one another between the platforms we use and the shifts in these mediums. Maybe I have grown up a bit, but so have these digital platforms, and I’m not so sure they have matured into the tech adults I would like them to be. Here are a few platforms concerns with and why I’m considering closing a few of my own social media spaces, just to name a few:

Beyond policies, practices, and costs, I was trying to determine where I want to “live” online and what it means now that some of these platforms have merged or have experienced new management change. Back in January, I facilitated a workshop about managing your digital identity and being a professional online in higher education. Some of the big questions I challenge participants to reflect about as they consider their online self and where they want to be include:

  1. Why do I want to share my knowledge and expertise? What interests me about “being” online and maybe even connected to my peers?
  2. Where do you want to be online? How do I want others to find and connect with me?
  3. What digital/social platforms would be best for how and what I want to share? Where will I find my professional networks online?

I shared how my own digital presence or “being” online has evolved. Although I used to be in a log of social and digital spaces, that is not the case anymore. A number of platforms have been deactivated (RIP Google Reader & Delicious). While others might have been just a platform to test out or try on. That being said, if something does not resonates with me or find a purpose in my digital life, than I’m okay to say goodbye. So, if any digital space or online place does not “bring you joy” (hat tip to the digital #MarieKondo practice), maybe it’s time to bid farewell. Here is the main focus of my personal digital and data audit:

Where do I want to be online?

Some of my digital self review has been going on for a while, but this year is the year to finish and probably shut down a few social media platforms and online accounts for good. Permanently. It’s time to simplify my streams and declutter my social (media) life. I have started the process and initiated the review of the audit spreadsheet to determine what accounts are active and to itemize what is happening online. Here are a few things I did to start this digital and data audit of me:

  1. Unsubscribe: I used to start the initial clean up and unsubscribe of email lists, advertising, listservs, and duplicate groups/listservs from all my email accounts (personally/professionally).
  2. Revoke/Remove Connections: By logging into your social media platforms, online apps, and digital accounts, you might see you have granted 3rd party access to other applications/users/accounts — remove said things.
  3. Identify the Accounts Where Your Personal Information Lies: Using the various emails, I used to get a list of my accounts and apps that I have signed up for to identify and delete the ones I am not using OR to add these to my digital/web audit spreadsheet to track. This method offers a GDPR message template (thanks, EU GDPR!) to send a template email to the platform administrator to remove yourself from online and social media accounts. This might (and does) require follow up messaging, emails, and sometimes confirmation contracts to remove your information and personal data from certain accounts. It might take some time to get responses and confirmations for deleting yourself from various platforms, communities, or online programs (I know. I am in week 4 of this process.)
  4. Download Your Personal Data: For the accounts and platforms you are thinking about deleting, consider downloading your account data. This might be an archive of activity, posts, etc (e.g. Facebook). Or it could be a files, images, and other items within each account (e.g. Flickr). Part of this download may require you to determine storage elsewhere, such as, in another cloud-based service OR external hard drive (or both). Figure out the how much of data and your use of it, to determine your next steps.
  5. Delete Yourself: Depending on your goals, you may just want to wipe your accounts online to remove all that is there. There are a few guides to get yourself off the grid to get you started. will remove your data and delete some of your accounts, but you will need to visit each account/platform you have to manually complete the deletion process. Check out these suggestions for finding/deleting accounts from the Internet, a list of “how to” delete yourself from social media platforms, and suggestions for deleting (or locking down) your Facebook and Instagram accounts.
The above is just a start — but I thought I’d share what I’ve been working on, ironically, offline and online to audit my digital and data self. Let me know if you have suggestions, resources, or ideas for this review process. I would love to hear how your own audit, review, and reflections are going if you are pondering the same thing.
astd, MGMT 6860, Needs Assessment, Training, UGST1000

Learning Goal Orientation & Motivation with Course Delivery Modes

Determining the course delivery mode for learners is important. Learning goal orientation (LGO) delivery modes can either enable or create barriers to motivation to learn and course/training outcomes. Have you thought about how the technology-enhanced instruction is supporting or challenging your learners? I have been thinking about this a great deal this semester as I weave face-to-face meetings in my seminar session with online/blended/connected projects and assignments.

Klein, Noe, and Wang (2006) conducted a quasi-experiment with 600 undergraduate students to compare blended learning and classroom delivery in three consecutive, ten week terms over the course of a full academic year. Unlike other blended learning or classroom comparison studies, the authors aim was to understand why or under what conditions one method may be more effective than the other and identify variables based on motivation theory to investigate how and why blended learning may be more effective than classroom instruction.

A Conceptual Model: Motivation for Learning Goal Orientation (Klein, Noe & Wang, 2006)

This model integrates training motivation theory, which is based on the Colquitt, LePine, and Noe (2000) meta-analytic path analysis of 20 years of training research and Brown and Ford’s (2002) input-process-output (IPO) model of learning.

Klein, Noe, and Wang (2006) tested the following hypothesis in their study:

1)      Motivation to learn – predictor of course outcomes and is influenced by both individual and situational characteristics (Colquitt et al., 2000; Noe, 1986; Tannenbaum & Yukl, 1992).

2)      Instructional characteristics – reduced motivation in distance learning courses include distractions and interruptions; level of interaction among the learners and between the instructor and learners, and increased learner control over the pace of instruction based on self-determination theory (Gange & Deci, 2005).

3)      Learner characteristics – LGO chosen can have a strong effect on learning and the allocation of effort during learning (Fisher & Ford, 1998); interest in the strongest and most consistent relationship with motivation to learn and course outcomes; challenges may encourage some learners to persist while be a barrier for other learners

4)      Perceived barriers and enablers – can impact motivation to learn and influence transfer of learning; attitudes examines towards use of new technology and availability of personal/technical support

5)      Course outcomes – goal to have robust positive relationships between motivation to learn and course outcomes that impact the cognitive learning (Kraiger,  Ford & Salas, 1993) and effective learning goal orientation (LGO)

6)      Mediating role of motivation to learn – expected relationships between the IV (delivery mode, LGO, and perceived barriers and enables) and the DV (course outcomes); specifically Sitzmann et al. (2006) found that blended learning was 13% more effective than classroom knowledge for teaching declarative knowledge, whereas White (1997) found distance learners engaged in greater metacognition than classroom learners; Other mediators: constraints, lack of choices, self-regulated learning, varied learner motivation

While reading this article for the training and development section of my HRD seminar, there are some limitations to comparing undergraduate learning to training – but this piece did present some interesting findings and suggested research for the future. Here are the results shared by Klein, Noe, and Wang (2006) from this study:

  • Learners in the blended learning condition, learners high in domain-specific LGO, and learners who perceived external features as enablers rather than barriers had higher motivation to learn
  • Barriers/enablers partially mediated the effects on LGO on motivation to learn
  • Motivation to learn was significantly related to course satisfaction, metacognition, and course grades
  • Motivation to learn mediated the relationships between the delivery mode, metacognition, relationship between LGO and course grades, and perceived barriers/enablers and course satisfaction



Brown K.G. & Ford J.K. (2002). Using computer technology in training. In Kraiger, K. (Ed.).Creating, implementing, and managing effective training and development (pp. 192–233). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Colquitt J.A., LePine J.A., &Noe R.A. (2000).Toward an integrative theory of training motivation: A meta-analytic path analysis of 20 years of research. Journal of Applied Psychology85, 678–707.

Gagne, M.& Deci, E.L. (2005). Self-determination theory and work motivation. Journal of Organizational Behavior. 26, 331–362.

Klein, H.J., Noe, R.A. & Wang, C. (2006). Motivation to learn and course outcomes: The impact of delivery mode, learning goal orientation, and perceived barriers and enablers. Personnel Psychology, 59, 665-702.

Kraiger, K., Ford, J.K., & Salas, E. (1993). Application of cognitive, skill-based, and affective theories of learning outcomes to new methods of training evaluation. Journal of Applied Psychology, 78, 311–328.

Sitzmann, T.M., Kraiger, K., Stewart, D.W., & Wisher, R.A. (2006). The comparative effectiveness of web-based and classroom instruction: A meta-analysis. Personnel Psychology, 59, 623–664.

Tannenbaum, S.I. & Yukl, G. (1992). Training and development in work organizations. Annual Review of Psychology, 43, 399–441.

White, C.J. (1997). Effects of mode of study on foreign language learning. Distance Education18, 178–196.

Learning Technologies, Needs Assessment

Talking to Tech Vendors

 Technology and tech vendors are all around us. Whether at a conference or reading a blog, you cannot help but stumble upon the many enterprise solutions or ed tech start ups that are flooding the higher education market. I don’t think that this is necessarily a bad thing; however I have had a number of professionals and faculty ask me  how to “talk the tech talk” with vendors. Many want to know that they are asking the “right” questions, determining if this IT resource is the best solution, and understanding what the product/software/application can be utilized for at their institution.  Often, I inquire if technology is the right solution to the problem and what the needs assessment indicated – but I will leave that topic for a follow up post.

Photo by AmyGaines on Etsy

 Last year my consulting skills class shared ideas for effectively partnering with clients to  support their interest in design, development, or external enterprise solution interests. I was discussing a few ideas with the instructor of that course this weekend, and I was reminded about a great article I read from Campus Technology – 13 Secrets of the Deal. Here are a few highlights and suggestions from the article that I know I have used when talking to vendors. What are your tips? Please share!

Tips for getting the most out of your vendor search and selection in higher education:
  1. Talk to all stakeholders on campus before you go shopping.
    • all three groups need to be at the discussion  table: users (faculty/staff/students), IT, and the purchasing department
  2. Spend time on the needs assessment, business analysis and strategic plan for implementation.
    • avoid picking a system that looks like one that is owned; instead step back and review for an ideas system
    • encourage stakeholders to be invested in the process/decision-making – more helpful for implementation
  3. Participate in your local (state/province/region/country) purchasing consortium.
    • In the US, some institutions belong to volunteer on a technology committee/group on campus or in the region
    • Have the expertise of the consortium /group help you move forward with your decision
  4. Only buy what you need – make just-in-time purchases. 
    • the price of hardware will decrease and the performance of it will increase
    • buy what you need and grow into it; add later to avoid paying maintenance on something not being used
  5. Encourage competition. Ask for bids from at least two competitors.
    • firms tend to work harder when in a competitive situation
    • advise everyone at a product demonstration to put on their “poker faces”
    • complete comprehensive evaluations; however do not ask for final decisions
  6. R-E-S-P-E-C-T. Vendors are people too. 
    • good working relationships with vendors can lead to price breaks
    • treat them as you would like to be treated – be conscious of timeline, deadlines & holidays
    • ask vendors where trouble dealing with your group lies
  7. Opt for a demo instead of a lengthy request for proposal (RFP).
    • ability to guide vendor through business process & current practices to allow for vendor to take notes & tailor specs
    • vendors will show you their capabilities & interests based on your questions and what you want to see in a demo
  8. Considering the contract. Negotiations are not all about pricing.
    • consider deals on the little stuff that adds up, i.e. shipping, longer warranties, multiple address for shipping, training, faster delivery, support, etc.
    • collective purchasing – talk with existing customers to participate in the deal – ASK FOR REFERENCES!
  9. Avoid signing a contract straight from the vendor. They protect the vendor more than they protect you.
    • a good reason to work with a buying consortium and other organizations who negotiate vendor contracts & take the customer interests into account.
    • alternative: hire an independent consulting firm to help you understand the terms and to represent your own interests
  10. Long term investment costs. Limit and control escalation factors.
    • usually an escalation clause in a maintenance contract that specifies how much fees will increase each year – think long term on % increases
  11. How much support is needed? Determine training and consulting needs.
    • the purchase of new technology frequently needs to cover additional vendor services
    • additional vendor services are often either over or underbid – includes travel costs, cancellation,
    • talk with other institutions who have purchased the same technology/software/hardware/system to get a realistic expectation of service & support required
  12. Look at alternative service providers.
    • you do not need to purchase services from the same company you purchased gear/software from
    • by not committing to services upfront, you can tell the company you are going to another vendor for support
  13. Should I stay or should I go now? Walk away if you do not find the right deal.
    • if things do not mesh or the terms are not in the same range of your budget – let it be
    • wait  6 to 18 months from now, as something more suitable might come along or your budget may change
Learning Technologies, Needs Assessment, PLE, Social Media

The Measure of Social (Media) Learning

Online impact is more relevant as social web enters into digital learning environments. Both assessment and evaluation of digital resources is critical for supporting learning outcomes and instructional design. Before diving into any sort of online addition to your curriculum, be sure to review both your online content and learning goals.

Flickr photo c/o suavehouse113

It is okay to experiment and get acquainted with a few social media resources; however it is important to start with a needs assessment before implementing new technologies into a learning curriculum or program plan. Here are a few things to consider before as you begin the evaluation of social media tools for learning:

  • Credibility Check your online sources. Are you a critical learner with your social media tools? There is a great deal of sharing in the social web; however not all online content is reliable. Consider what mediums would be most appropriate for the subject, topic and learners. Encourage your learners to develop critical thinking skills on the web for effective methods of search, inquiry and information analysis.
  • Expertise – How many “social media experts” and #fauxperts have you seen online? It is the learning material, not the online tools that will best support your curriculum. The best expertise can be found with an instructional needs assessment and program implementation plan. Consider your learning objectives and planning your best expertise. I recommend the following educational technology associations and networks to support your instructional design and implementation needs: ISTE, AACE, AECT, The eLearning Guild,  and EDUCAUSE.
  • Trust – How do you build trust among learners in your online curriculum? What will help foster a sense of community? The social web creates spaces for online communities to grow and thrive. When building an online learning community it is important to consider communication channels, active participation opportunities, and collaborative networks for learners to find meaning.  
Flickr photo c/o Ev@ 😉
AcAdv, Needs Assessment, Podcast, Social Media

Advising Tech Presentations & Resources, Part Deux

To follow up with the Advising 2.0 webinar from May, I was fortunate to help facilitate a couple more sessions on the topic of Advising & Technology for the Innovative Educators group. Here were the topics and presentation resources from the sessions:

1. Advising Technology: The Needs Assessment & Implementation Process with George Steele, Ohio Learning Network

Webinar resources can be found in this The Needs Assessment & Implementation Google Doc.

2. Best Practices in Online Academic Advising Delivery with Clay SchwennUniversity of Washington

Webinar resources can be found in this Best Practices for Online Academic Advising Delivery Google Doc.

Although I enjoyed participating in these sessions, often these online sessions were the starting point for many departmental/campus academic advising groups. It seemed like attendees from these webinars were at various levels of engaging with technology in advising – either just at the drawing board and looking for ideas or in the process for assessment and measurement of current practices. We hoped to provide a springboard for development for some, and hopefully a point of contact, information and resources for others in their dive into advising with technology. In any case, we encouraged participants to stay connected and engaged amongst the great technology in advising network that is starting to thrive online.