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Scott Schopieray

Strategic Areas of Focus - December 2017

3 min read

Outline of a few areas of strategic focus that are at the forefront of our thinking this month. 

Badging/Competency-based learning

Our work with badging/competency-based learning continues to evolve, with a model for understanding the relationships between described competencies, experiences that support a student gaining some knowledge that they can then apply to creating an artifact (or set of them) which demonstrates the competency or sub-competency. 

competency, experience and artifacts triangle

We are employing this model in the Globally Engaged Leaders (GEL) program and in the Citizen Scholars (CS) program to ensure our requirements are matched up with the competencies we seek. 

process for competency based

Data Ethics

We continue to think about ethics as they are connected to the increasing amount of data that faculty members and administrators have access to. Ethical uses of student data need to be at the forefront of our thinking in this area, too often we are providing access to data without considering the reasons why it might not be good for broad access.

Some thoughts I'm working on...

How can data be ethically used as a "flag" for courses further into a sequence? For example, can we understand through course-level data that a student who performs in X way during a 101 course may be in need of further help or at risk in a higher level course? What are the implications for a faculty member knowing this when the student gets to the higher course? Is it better if the data is not connected to specific students... e.g you have X number of students who are flagged for issues in this course due to prior course performance?

When we have detailed access logs for each student how does that affect the way we look at the students work? e.g. if I know that Howard didn't access the course until the day before, but that Kate accessed it every day, but they created a similar quality final product does it matter? if it does, how(?) does my knowing that Howard didn't access the course much affect my view of his work?

Data storage issues are also at play. If we are allowing people to download and move data from one space to another, how are we ensuring these data are kept safe? How do we ensure that student identifying information is not released inadvertently, or used inappropriately?

Accessibility for persons with cognitive disorders and returned focus on courses

Thus far our focus on a11y issues has been mostly on sight/hearing impairments, but a growing area we should be thinking about is a11y for persons with cognitive disorders. How does this affect our work both with a11y for teaching and learning sites, but also for more public sites? What considerations do we need to be taking into account, and how do these affect our strategy?

Also negotiating returning our focus to teaching and learning focused a11y projects. Now that the mar/comm team has a web developer to focus on the public facing sites we are able to return our attention to teaching.

Digital Scholarship Lab

As we get closer to the launch of the DSL, how are thinking about growing interest and engagement there? On the VR side of things, how are we demonstrating capabilities for interested parties? What are other topics and areas that are connected to this work?



Scott Schopieray

Adapting the LMS Game to Other Educational Initiatives

1 min read

Recently several of us played the "LMS Game" designed by Bill Hart-Davidson at the MSU Hub. Our goal in that game was to map out the current status of an educational technology tool/genre on campus, to identify problems/gaps that exist with it, and then to identify possible solutions to address the gaps. My team chose to look at eportfolio initiatives on campus and in our mapping process we discovered that a lack of shared vision around collaboration 

In a conversation with @Craniumation about competency-based learning programs on campus he wondered if playing a modified version of the game might do the same thing as we did with the LMS game but with competency based learning initiatives. 

Scott Schopieray

Merging Faculty Interests and IT Policy

3 min read

Recently on our campus the IT administrators implemented two-factor authentication on our learning management system (LMS). All persons with "grader" level access to the system are required to use the two factor method to access the LMS when they access it. This was presumably put into effect to combat efforts by some students to modify grades or otherwise impersonate instructors, though the reasons for doing so were not clearly communicated to the faculty. 

Therein lies the question, how is IT policy implemented on college campuses in a way that merges faculty interests with the best interest of the institution at large? What mechanisms must be put into place to ensure that there is opportunity for questions, feedback on how a policy affects the classroom (whether virtual or physical), and how are these policies communicated to faculty in ways that allow them to understand the IT decisions and to not only work with them, but to promote them?

A rash of relatively high profile cases of digital identity theft on college campuses has occured in the past year, perhaps the most recent and high profile being that of a University of Iowa student who is facing federal charges for using a hardware keylogger to steal passwords of faculty members on campus. This is inarguably a possible threat facing faculty at many institutions, ours included. With the easy and inexpensive availability of a key logger, their small size and simple installation, one could easily imagine them being placed on computers across campus without the knowledge of anyone.

Clearly the threat is real, and two-factor authentication may be one of the easiest ways to thwart efforts on college campuses to steal faculty credentials, so in that respect putting two-factor on the LMS is a relatively easy way to protect faculty identities and prevent those who may have been able to steal their passwords from accessing and modifying grades.

So with all of the positive reasons to implement two-factor on the LMS or other relatied systems, you may be wondering what the big deal is... why not just let the implementation happen and move on? This is where the issues of ability to question and to provide feedback come into play.

What about the faculty member who has a valid reason for not bringing her phone to class? A phone which becomes necessary for receiving the sms message or which holds the app that has the access code? What about the person who teaches in a location where cellular service doesn't work very well? or the one who forgot their phone at home that morning? What about the faculty member who may be preparing to hold a conversation on a divisive topic, who has technical trouble accessing the course and therefore is seen by the students as being "technologically inept?" What are the feedback mechanisms in these cases? How are faculty able to share their experience with IT staff in ways that are meaningful and are considered in policy revisions or future policy creation?

There are answers to many of these questions that will surely be given, but it's not so much the answers I'm interested in as it is the openness to dialogue, and consideration of the fact that maybe there are a few faculty out there who have a good reason for not having to use the two-factor authentication on the LMS when they are in the classroom.

Scott Schopieray

Distant Visualizing Pippin

1 min read


I visited the Introduction to Digital Humanities class last week to talk about and show distant visualization techniques. Given the persistent theme of Harlem Renaissance used in the course, we chose a selection of paintings from the artist Horace Pippin ranging from 1930 until his death in 1946.

Caveat to this post, our dataset does not include the full breadth of Pippin's paintings during this period, and image processing was not done to ensure the paintings are accurately color corrected. The dataset was quickly obtained for the purposes of demonstration and while I make certain conclusions based on what I see, these are not necessarily correct.

Data Collection


Pippin Paintings

The above plot is color saturation of approximately 57 paintings on the y-axis and year of the painting on the x-axis. 


Pippin Brightness Median