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UX4UB

UX4UB

Upward Bound is an opportunity that I never had the chance to experience growing up. So, when approached to help with this project I didn’t exactly know what to expect or its purpose. Fortunately,  my colleague Rashida Peete did. Giving a bit of background, The Upward Bound Program provides high school students from low-income communities the ability to learn about and explore new ventures regarding higher education. The goal is to set the foundation for students to succeed in their pre-college pursuits. As Muncie Central High School accepted the opportunity to join the Upward Bound initiative, we were asked to provide assistance. As graduate assistants for Ball State University’s Center for Information and Communication Sciences (CICS) department, we were eager to help. Being the test pilot for the programs existence in this region, all involved wanted the first experience to be exciting for students, participating instructors, workshop leaders, and the planning committee. Having a strong foundation in technology and communication through our CICS program, our goal was to provide the students with more exposure to the world of technology. With the guidance of Dr. Rebecca Hammons, Rashida and I assembled an extremely solid and passionate team, members including:  Marcus Berry, Cheria Averitte, Rashida Peete, and myself (Alex Peczynski), to carry out a four-day workshop on the concept of User Experience and Design.

Fundamentally, User Experience is broken into four main phases: Contextual Inquiry Analysis, Design, Implementation/Prototyping, and Evaluation/Testing, known as the UX Lifecycle. During the course of the workshop, we covered each phase (one building upon the next,) allowing students to understand the importance in every step. To maintain momentum,  this was a very hands-on and interactive experience with group projects. We tasked students with creating a “Smart Container Home” using a pamphlet full of Internet of Things (IoT) devices found in homes. By the end, each Smart Home would be taken through all four phases and judged. Using group rotation for versatility, students had different users evaluating their design requirements. Next, they took their user requirements putting pen to paper sketching out how they would design their smart homes. On the third day, using the previous days drawings and a slew of art supplies and cardboard boxes – each group brought their smart home design to life. We ended the last day with the final UX stage – evaluation. At this time each group finalized construction and received user feedback from the rotated group of users who initially evaluated their design requirements.

This opportunity can be described in one word – Enjoyment. Hopefully, this project not only inspired, but taught and encouraged students to pursue User Experience and Design in the future.

Upward Bound is an opportunity that I never had the chance to experience growing up. So, when approached to help with this project I didn’t exactly know what to expect or its purpose. Fortunately,  my colleague Rashida Peete did. Giving a bit of background, The Upward Bound Program provides high school students from low-income communities the ability to learn about and explore new ventures regarding higher education. The goal is to set the foundation for students to succeed in their pre-college pursuits. As Muncie Central High School accepted the opportunity to join the Upward Bound initiative, we were asked to provide assistance. As graduate assistants for Ball State University’s Center for Information and Communication Sciences (CICS) department, we were eager to help. Being the test pilot for the programs existence in this region, all involved wanted the first experience to be exciting for students, participating instructors, workshop leaders, and the planning committee. Having a strong foundation in technology and communication through our CICS program, our goal was to provide the students with more exposure to the world of technology. With the guidance of Dr. Rebecca Hammons, Rashida and I assembled an extremely solid and passionate team, members including:  Marcus Berry, Cheria Averitte, Rashida Peete, and myself (Alex Peczynski), to carry out a four-day workshop on the concept of User Experience and Design.

Fundamentally, User Experience is broken into four main phases: Contextual Inquiry Analysis, Design, Implementation/Prototyping, and Evaluation/Testing, known as the UX Lifecycle. During the course of the workshop, we covered each phase (one building upon the next,) allowing students to understand the importance in every step. To maintain momentum,  this was a very hands-on and interactive experience with group projects. We tasked students with creating a “Smart Container Home” using a pamphlet full of Internet of Things (IoT) devices found in homes. By the end, each Smart Home would be taken through all four phases and judged. Using group rotation for versatility, students had different users evaluating their design requirements. Next, they took their user requirements putting pen to paper sketching out how they would design their smart homes. On the third day, using the previous days drawings and a slew of art supplies and cardboard boxes – each group brought their smart home design to life. We ended the last day with the final UX stage – evaluation. At this time each group finalized construction and received user feedback from the rotated group of users who initially evaluated their design requirements.

This opportunity can be described in one word – Enjoyment. Hopefully, this project not only inspired, but taught and encouraged students to pursue User Experience and Design in the future.

– Rashida Peete & Alex Peczynski

2018 ITERA Conference Success

2018 ITERA Conference Success

April 24, 2018

Earlier this month, a contingent of BSU CICS faculty and students headed for Lexington, Kentucky to attend the annual ITERA Conference. ITERA stands for Information and Telecommunications Education and Research Association and is comprised of representation from numerous universities interested in advancing telecommunications and IT, including programs at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Murray State, Ball State, Southern Methodist and Ohio University. Overall, the event serves to meet academic and social goals of the participating programs, including CICS.

Last year was my first opportunity to experience ITERA, in Nashville, by invitation of Dr. Ray Steele to participate on a panel discussion. I met many interesting students and faculty at last year’s event, and this year’s conference was equally beneficial from a networking and learning standpoint. The 2018 event was held in a beautiful setting on the northeast area of Lexington at the Griffin Gate Marriott. Anticipating (and looking forward to) springtime weather, we were surprised by snow showers on day two of the conference!

Industry speakers included John Taylor, VP of Technology Development for the National Institute for Hometown Security; Sean O’Leary, CEO for EDJ Analytics; and Drew Perry, Manager of IT Governance, Risk, and Compliance for Valvoline. The EDJ Analytics presentation provided insight into new revenue models being built around the analysis of data. All of the presentations were informative. Dr. Steve Jones commented on the quality of the keynote speeches and pointed out that industry perspective is always appreciated.

A number of our graduate students presented papers at the conference and one team also competed in the annual case study competition. CICS student presentations included:

  • Digital Forensics: The Importance of Digital Forensic Science in Criminal Investigations – Alison Lytle, Sajad Bashiri, Noah Stephens, and James Conner
  • Tools, Use, and Ethics of Big Data – Laura Lauer, Chazney Gates, and Rashida Peete
  • Slow Tech: An Educational Imperative – Alex Peczynski and Rashida Peete
  • The National Case Study Competition – Joe Tobin, Kasia Majkowski, Drew Miller, Lauren McNally and Jack Nagy

In speaking with students who presented during the conference, all spoke to the opportunity that ITERA presented in terms of understanding, knowledge, and exposure to branches of technology that they have otherwise not experienced. Austin Kellner, a student of Ball State University’s Center for Information and Communication Sciences (CICS) program, thoroughly enjoyed presentations on the Slow Tech Movement stating “I feel more informed about contemporary topics and issues in the technology industry. I attended a presentation on E-waste and was reminded that there is a significant amount of electronic devices that are not being recycled properly causing damage to the environment. Therefore, educational initiatives and government interventions could reduce the devastating consequences.”The information gained from industry personnel and professors spoke volumes to students who were in attendance.

ITERA has a certain air to the level of information provided in addition to the presenters that you have the ability to observe. Alex Peczynski, another student of the Ball State’s CICS program enjoyed this facet of the conference, ITERA was a great experience to further my professional career and gain experience speaking in front of a very smart and knowledgeable audience.”Overall, students walked away feeling as though their skill set was enhanced by this opportunity and can see themselves attending the ITERA Conference again in the future. Lauren McNally said, “The case study competition was also a great way to improve presentation and critical thinking skills. Overall I had a great time and if I am still in the Information Technology field in the future will look at attending again.”

This was Dr. Jerry DeHondt’s first ITERA conference and he summed up the event very well by stating, ITERA was a great opportunity to meet and connect with colleagues and discuss pedagogy and emerging technologies.  It was a wonderful event allowing lively discussions about numerous topics that effect our roles as educators and scholars.  The venue and accommodations were excellent!”I second Dr. DeHondt’s comments, and I look forward to next year’s ITERA conference!

Dr. Becky Hammons

Social Media and A Company’s Reputation

Social Media and A Company’s Reputation

I think that the use and impact of social media can be either beneficial or detrimental to a company’s reputation. It all depends on the use and context of social media posts that are done by the company. There are billions of social media users in the world, so social media is a very effective way to reach people and advertise, and that number will only increase looking towards the future. Social media allows companies to be able to share information and content faster and easier than ever before. If done effectively, social media can grab people’s attention, tap into people’s emotions, and create humor and entertainment for the audience. Creating images that are simple and entertaining will grab people’s attention quickly. People who see effective social media posts are likely to explore further and visit said company’s official website. Company social media use also increases brand awareness and increases customer loyalty. In all of these cases, social media use would be beneficial for a company and its reputation.

However, if social media use is not done properly, it can be detrimental to a company. Everything needs to be worded carefully and controversial topics should be avoided. If a company posts something that is related to a controversial subject, they are also inviting people to comment on that post, which can lead to your audience writing negative comments about you on the post. Another example of bad social media use is using a tragic event on a post, such as a celebrity death. This can look like the company is using the tragic event for advertising their product or service and can look bad for them. Sometimes it’s just better to not say anything at all. It’s also important for company’s social media accounts to think twice before trying to follow trends, especially if they can be of sensitive nature. Don’t post something that’s meant to be funny when the hashtag is about something serious, such as relationship abuse, sexual harassment, etc. This will negatively impact your company and will result in bad press for your company.

Social media is a tool that companies should take advantage of. Creating posts and images that are entertaining and easy to understand will be great advertising and branding of your product or service. It provides multiple platforms for you to be able to easily reach your audience and even directly respond to their comments, if desired. However, the use of social media needs to be done properly. Be sure that only people you trust can post for you, and that it’s not in the hands of just anyone, and that posts could not be potentially considered offensive in some situations. This will quickly turn into negative attention for your company. Keep everyone in mind, be creative, and entertain your audience in order to use social media to its full potential.

– Darian McKinney

Conflicting Management Styles

Conflicting Management Styles

Conflict is inevitable and we all have will have to deal with it at some point in life. How we deal with conflict however, is what separates and defines us as individuals. When referencing conflict management, five styles are typically associated. These styles include; accommodating, avoiding, competing, collaborating, and compromising. Each of these styles fall between a scale of assertiveness and cooperativeness. Knowing what each of the conflict management styles are and applying them to your life and work environment can aid in how well you resolve conflict and uneasy situations.

Personally, I feel as though my conflict management style lies between accommodating and compromising. I don’t like to give a lot of my energy to conflict so when faced, I typically try to mediate, and see what will work best for everyone involved. That way we can move on and get the task completed. Although I typically stay in between those two, in given situations each of these styles can be utilized. If I am trying to accommodate everyone’s needs and someone isn’t willing to meet me half way then I transition into the avoiding style. Doing so allows all parties involved time to cool down and consider the situation. Sometimes I also feel as though I use the competing style. I have found that when working in groups, everyone has an opinion or idea about something. When I think my idea or solution is the best one then I get more assertive on why I think we should go with my idea over my teams. Although I want my idea to be the one chosen I also know how to collaborate with my team members in order to satisfy all sides.

Although we may think that our conflict management style is one way, we will ultimately end up using all five at some point or in some situation. Being able to understand situations and take a step back to evaluate what the true conflict is, will make it easier for you decide which direction you need to go in order to come to a resolution.

 

– Cheria Averitte

Does politeness theory have an impact on one’s college education?

Does politeness theory have an impact on one’s college education?

Politeness Theory (PT) has an impact on one’s college education for multiple reasons. The premise of PT is built on the idea that individuals promote, protect, and save face. During your college career you are constantly put into situations where you might execute these tactics (Marianne Dainton, 2015). As a college student you are in constant rotation of interacting and collaborating with someone in one way or another, because of this you are tasked with having to adapt and/or understand different personalities and how those personalities work (or don’t work) with your own. This is important during your four plus years as a student because you are trying to learn, experience, and understand as much as you can to develop skills that are applicable personally and professionally.

 

To do this you will balance the “face” needs of yourself against the “face” needs of others. This is the second assumption of PT, human beings are rational and goal oriented with respect to achieving face needs (Marianne Dainton, 2015). For instance, when completing group projects, individuals may play into this assumption to ensure that said group will move forward progressively and smoothly. This also appears in the relationship between professor and student. As a student, it is important that you build a rapport with your professors as they are able to bestow information and network connections that will help you advance professionally. So, as you achieve their face needs you will accomplish the goal of gaining their connections and mentorship.

Another assumption that impacts ones’ college education regarding politeness theory are “Face Threatening Acts (FTA)”, behaviors that challenge a person(s) “face”, more so the strategies for dealing with FTA’s. This comes into play when deciphering whether politeness should be used. The three strategies carrying such influence are: Prestige, Power, and Risk. In essence, education is built upon this circle of factors. Throughout the pursuit of your college education balancing and discovering the value of each strategy mentioned above is critical due to the potential lasting effect of incorrectly applying or not applying politeness. Overall, politeness theory is highly connected to social networking which is a huge factor in the journey of pursing a college education.

 

– Rashida Peete

Influence of Television

Influence of Television

Over the past decade, television markets have grown exponentially due to the increase in demand.  The implementation of online streaming services such as Netflix, Hulu, Amazon Video, and more have provided continuous access to the addicting shows available on television.  Although there can be varying effects on television viewers depending on their age, intelligence, social status, and amount of use, the question remains, what is the real impact of increased television usage?

In my opinion, the amount of television you watch directly correlates to your perception of the world.  Regarding light television users, I believe there are several benefits to watching television.  In many ways, I believe television in small doses can promote creativity.  Experiencing new ideas seen on television can stimulate the brain and increase creative thinking.  Along with creative thinking, I believe television can provide an educational benefit.  It is important to note that you cannot believe everything you see on television, but there are many shows that provide great factual references.  Lastly, light television use is a great avenue for entertainment purposes.  As humans, we need breaks from reality.  I believe light television usage has many benefits, and provides very few drawbacks.

The issue with television is when light usage transitions to heavy usage.  Heavy users can expand their vocabulary and at times positively influence emotions from their enjoyment of television; but these benefits do not outweigh the disadvantages.  Heavy television users are prone to develop an alternate sense of reality.  For example, minorities tend to be victimized more often than others in scary movies.  In conjunction with this fact, the idea of “don’t believe everything you hear on television” comes into play.  How many times have you heard this statement? Likely a lot.  The mass amount of television viewing can cause viewers to become ignorant to the facts of real life, as they experience what they believe to be fact through television. Heavy television viewers tend to waste much of their time, as they could be productively researching, socializing, or generating their own sense of creativity.

While I am aware of the fact that heavy television viewing can become costly to an individual’s development, it hardly influences my television viewing decisions.  I do not consider myself a high television viewer to begin with, but I would also not say I watch little television.  I tend to watch sports more than shows and movies, and I also tend to do homework or research while watching.  I do find myself in isolating to the outside world at times, but I also believe that is partially due to my personality in general.  Overall, I believe I have control over my television viewing, and believe I can filter the good from the bad.  The main issue remains; we all must be aware of the issues television can cause.

 

– Tyler Raab

Anxiety in Communicating

Anxiety in Communicating

I believe that people’s anxiety in communicating is amplified by our use of electronics and social media. This is undeniably an issue in today’s society – people don’t want to engage in personal communication due to their ease of communicating via electronics. People have gotten so used to formulating their communication into a space that is confined in how much you may say, all to, typically, get a reaction from others.

I, myself, am guilty of having my communication-anxiety take over due to my use of electronics and social media. Why call and engage in an actual conversation when I could just order online through a computer? Why talk to an employee in person to order my food when I could order through my phone instead, and avoid interaction.

Not only is the convenience of electronics and social media a factor for communication-anxiety being amplified, but people have gotten so used to communicating via a virtual space that there is no fear of repercussions for responses. People do not instantly have someone to refute or argue or respond to their statements online. When engaging in interpersonal communication, one must deal with real reactions and real arguments. When people finally do engage in real conversation, they are scared of responses and how to react to other’s statements or claims – because they’ve had the option of not doing so through social media.

I believe one of the biggest ways we see this anxiety is out in public environments with close human encounters. If you are on the subway or train, you generally see every person’s attention on their device. No one wants to engage with another to carry out an actual conversation. The thought of communicating with other humans stresses people out. They get comfortable with only seeing the communication they want to via the people they follow on social media and the people they text on their phone. A conversation in which one is not prepared for, throws many off.

I’d wish to see more communicating in social and public areas. I’d wish to see more engagement of humans on the train, bus, airplane, airport, or anywhere that may require humans gather. I’d wish there were classes in education that taught our teenagers and kids the importance of media consumption and electronics engagement. I’ve learned you can learn a lot through simply asking humans questions and staying curious. Social media and electronics can be such a beautiful tool to help in that. However, it seems more often than not it’s only made others more afraid of being curious to engage with other humans.

 

– Alex Mantica

Television’s Influence

Television’s Influence

Television has become a staple in our modern society and provides us the ability to communicate to a large number of people at once. Since it’s early adoption, it has been used as a tool to pass along local, national, and world news to users who may or may not use television heavily. I personally believe that television can affect you the more you watch it, but it also depends on what part of television you watch.

As a former heavy television user, I have seen the effects that it can have on people that watch television heavily. I have seen it come to a point where the news that heavy users watch, the users end up making assumptions about their local area or the world. With the news these days focusing mostly on the negatives, users tend to presume the world is a bad place or heading down the wrong path. Also, heavy users tend to cling to certain shows that affect their personalities or well-being. For instance, let’s say a person watches “Family Guy” about 80% of their total television viewing. These people tend to do more reckless acts of behavior and tend to use foul language more often in simple conversations. Lastly, watching excessive amounts of violent and crude television can effect learning habits. I feel that this is something that should be strongly recognized and regulated for young children as they are very malleable to anything that they see happen.

Not all television is bad for you however. Watching educational television such as Animal Planet and PBS can be beneficial to one’s personal growth, especially people at a young age. These networks present a positive learning experience that enhances ones intelligence and creativity. Watching non-violent or very little violent television such as sports and family sitcoms can also be watched at high rates, but will have little to no effect on a person’s learning habits, personalities, or sexual behavior and can promote self-motivation, confidence, and relationship building.

As stated previously, I personally do not watch much television. The few times I do watch television is to watch NCAA or NBA basketball games or the occasional award shows such as the MTV Music Awards, the Grammys, or the Oscars. Thus, I feel that because of what I believe in the impacts of heavy television usage can do to a person, I will not be watching a lot of television, but if I do happen to watch a lot of television, it will be sports or something that can mildly stimulate my mind.

 

– Marcus Berry

When to Use Your Cellphone

When to Use Your Cellphone

In our hyper-connected society it’s nearly a guarantee that everybody has a cellphone on them at all times. Whether you use your phone to chat with friends or use it to run a business, our phones are very important to us. However, it’s critical to understand the do’s and don’ts of cellphone etiquette. Being careless with your cellphone could offend somebody, give off a bad impression, or hurt your chances of getting that dream job. Here I have detailed some cellphone etiquette basics that are sure to keep you out of hot water.

 

At work

  • Do not touch phones during meetings
  • Have a professional ring tone
  • Silence your device
  • Only answer important calls
  • Move calls into a more private setting

At home

  • Do not take phone to the dinner table
  • Do not take calls when already talking to others

Public

  • Avoid personal topics around others
  • Do not raise voice or yell while on the phone
  • Don’t take calls while on public transportation
  • End call when purchasing something
  • Turn off phone while on flights

– Kaitlin Franke

Enhanced Anxiety In Communication

Enhanced Anxiety In Communication

Text messaging and social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat are allowing people to communicate with each other from all over the world. Communication has changed with the evolution of technology. People can talk with someone from a completely different country that they have never met with a just few clicks or taps on a screen.

This ability to talk without seeing someone face-to-face has made some people uncomfortable or even unsure of how to act when communicating in-person. We see more and more people that are uncomfortable with communicating in an in-person fashion. They are so used to texting or using social media to meet and talk to different people, that they are losing the ability to do the same in-person. Try to think about it this way – if LeBron James did not continue to hone his skill on a basketball, would he be one of the best to ever play the game? If Tom Brady or Peyton Manning stopped watching film and practicing would they have ever achieved as high as have they have? The answer is no. You have to continuously work on a skill in order to improve upon it.

Working in a school system for several years, I could see it more so than ever in middle schoolers. They have, generally, only communicated with each other outside of school through technology, and do not know how to hold a conversation when they see each other in the hallway. These students also do not know how to interact with adults. They aren’t taught to maintain eye contact or to listen before responding. Taking it a step further, these students do not communicate well through formal written communication either. As a teacher, I saw students not know how to write complete sentences or would use abbreviations when writing formal papers for a class. In my opinion, this is due to the extensive amount of communication that is done through texting and/or social media.

This is not to say that all people or students are like this. That would be an unreasonable generalization about people who possess the skill to communicate in-person. It all depends on how much time and energy each individual puts into honing their ability to communicate.

 

– Drew Miller

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