Posts Tagged ‘university of illinois at springfield

27
Jan
09

State Farm Donates to UIS Computer Science Program

Sometimes as photographers we get put into situations in which we have to deal with tricky lighting situations.  Unfortunately for me, tricky lighting situations occur in every building on my campus.  It’s a good thing though because it pushes me to play with my white balance and other camera settings to try to get the photo to look right.  It’s important to get to an event early enough to be able to take some test shots and refer to your histogram.  Knowing how to read a histogram can save you a lot of time in post processing.

Histogram

Histogram

photo courtesy http://www.digitalreview.ca/cams/NikonD200_intro.shtml

For these shots I use a combination (exact data can be found on my flickr page for all the photos) of an 18-50 f2.8 with a flash usually set at f5.6 and ISO 400 and a 70-200 f2.8 without a flash set at f2.8 and ISO 1600.  I think f5.6 to f11 is a good range for shooting events like this with a flash.  f2.8 is a must especially when it was as dark in that room as it was.  I wish my D70s had less high ISO noise, but you’ve got to work with what you’ve got.  Here are some photos, let me know what you think.

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12
Jan
09

Basketball Weekend

12
Nov
08

Men’s Basketball at the University of Illinois at Springfield

UIS Men’s Basketball vs. St. Ambrose on November 10, 2008.  First home game of the season for the men’s basketball team.  Here are a couple of shots from that game.  And by a couple I mean like 50-ish.

UIS Men’s Basketball vs. St. Ambrose on November 11, 2008.  UIS plays one NCAA Division I team per year.  Unfortunately for the guys, it falls the day after another game in which actually counted (vs. this game which was an exhibition).  The guys were tired, but they did a good job keeping the ISU team at bay, especially in the first half.

02
Sep
08

Photos from Fall 2008 at UIS

I’ve been spending most of my time the last two weeks taking photographs. Here are just a handful of shots from the first couple of weeks.

23
Jul
08

What I have learned from the eduWeb 2008 Conference

I know what you’re thinking: “You weren’t at the eduWeb conference!?!” True, however, due to the excellent coverage by many many people namely Nick Catto, Brad Ward, Matt Herzberger, Michael Fienen, and many more that can be seen on Matt’s blog! The blog coverage was great, the Twitter coverage was amazing, and uStream worked like a charm! I was able to follow many of the conference topics thanks to all the hard work by the attendees and some non-attendees.

However, as great as all this connectedness is, I know that I missed out on a lot by not being there. For example, there was a BlogHighEd social one night that I missed out on. I missed out on all the after hours conversations and debates about whether email is or is not dead for example, and other things I’m sure. What I am trying to say is that being virtually connected just does not equal being able to meet/talk/interact with people in person.

While that is something you all knew already, sometimes we tend to loose sight of that when talking about our students. We assume that all students are so connected that we forget about some of the “older” or more “traditional” methods of communication. I know that our students are connected, but they are not all as connected as we hope they might be. The reason I bring this up is that during the same time as the eduWeb conference, my university, the University of Illinois at Springfield, hosted the SLOAN Consortium conference for Online Learning. One of the sessions that I attended yesterday dealt with Student Life. I heard technology professionals talking about implementing Second Life in their courses. Requiring students, especially online students to interact with each other in that virtual setting. One of the presenters said proudly that 6 of their 15 students could access Second Life on their computers. If you ask me, that’s not really a good percentage of students, especially if you are REQUIRING them to use it! Someone else said that 25% of their class of 25 had used Second Life before. Again, not impressed… I was pleased to hear that other schools recognize this and are offering two tracks for students in those courses to be able to work: Blackboard and/or Second Life.

Going along with this, I’ve heard a lot of chatter about customer relations and how that affects retention. Students don’t appreciate always getting referred back to the website for answers. They probably checked their first and are calling you BECAUSE they couldn’t find the answers on the website. Giving students that personal attention they desire (and have pretty much come to expect) will certainly reflect positively on your university.

Earlier this summer, we were curious about how we could change the mailing of our publications. We talked to groups of students to see how they heard about us and got information to us and we found that the majority of the students said that it was our print publications where they got their initial information. I think we got a little ahead of ourselves by thinking that people were going online to find us. Our study groups prove that our student demographic is not quite ready for that shift yet.

There’s been a lot of talk on Twitter about screen resolution and web design. I know it’s not really possible to take care of everyone, but one of the factors that my institution has to consider is that we do have a LOT of students still running on dial-up. As great as it would be to have everyone with high speed internet, it’s not plausible right now for many people.

The last thing I have learned from the eduWeb 2008 conference is that conferences really pump you up. Actually, I already knew this from the other conferences I have attended, but even just being able to catch the coverage has really made me excited to do things. I know I’ve checked out Brad Ward’s reading list and I am going to pick up some of those books (hopefully I’ll read them all in a timely manner). It really helped to refocus me on my work.

I want to say thank you to everyone who provided coverage from the conference! I hope that I can return the favor at some other conferences that I will be attending this year! I hope the budget comes through for them… Andrew Careaga said to have a great week! So here’s to hoping everyone remains high after the conference!

01
Jul
08

Updated – UIS Freshmen Social Network

Time for an update! I wanted to update last Friday, but didn’t have the chance. Things have been really busy this summer, something that I didn’t expect. But it’s been good, so please don’t take that as a complaint.

Overall, the project is going very well! The students are logging in all the time to check statuses and post on people’s walls, etc. We fell just short of my hope for 60 members before the third orientation – we only had 56 – but that’s still not too bad. One interesting trend I saw was within the first 12 hours of emailing out the invites, 10 people joined after the first and second orientations. I had some issues yesterday and was unable to pull up a lot of the students email addresses in order to send them their invite so I couldn’t do that until this morning. I decided to email them at 11:15 the day after, so we will see how that works out. Maybe it will be better to wait a day before emailing them. I’m sure a lot of students go home and rest up after their long day on campus and checking their email is probably the last thing on their mind. So I’m turning a problem into something good and testing the adoption.

blue.i.s.

I also posed the question “Who has Facebook and/or MySpace?” to the students in a large group to see what type of response I got. I was surprised that a little less than half of them raised their hands. We only had 52 students in attendance, and I would say maybe 25 raised their hands. So that will be interesting to see how many students join from this last group that came in. If you remember, the first group had 29 out of 59 (49%) members join and the second group fell off tad, only logging 27 out of 64 members (42%). At the posting of this blog, a mere two and a half hours after the email went out, five members have joined. Some people must not have summer jobs, haha.

blue.i.s.

UIS is somewhat unique because of our honors program. Not because we have one, but because sometimes there is a separation between the students. It’s an honors vs. traditional feud sometimes. Perhaps it is the treatment that each class gets (the honors being more babied perhaps?), or the fact that they are separated in the residence halls. Ever since freshmen started coming to UIS there has been this issue. It’s certainly been worse in years past, so we’re making steps in the right direction. Anyway, the students in the honors program get to come down the night before orientation and stay in Lincoln Residence Hall. Due to the honors courses they have to take, they meet with advisor’s that evening so that when they register on orientation day, they pretty much know what they will be taking (they still have to choose electives, etc). Afterwards, many of the students play sand volleyball, watch movies, or what else. But they are able to form a relationship with each other which gives them an advantage on orientation day. A lot of the students already know one another before the traditional students even arrive. The same can been seen on blue.i.s. The honors students are typically friending each other and commenting more on one another’s walls. It would really be nice if we could offer something for the other students so they don’t feel so left out. So that is in the works.

blue.i.s.

I posted a question asking what features they would like to see either added or removed. One person said that it is a little slow and that I need page optimization. Unfortunately, the calendar and the blog aggregate run slower due to the fact that they are pulling in a bunch of RSS feeds. So every time the page loads, it has to repopulate. Other than that, the students are happy with it. Personally, I wish there was a wall-to-wall feature like there is in Facebook. I think that would be really cool. I also wish the Flickr photo gadget worked better. As it is right now, if I want to update the photos, I would have to reload all my photos into ning which takes quite a while. That’s alright though because I am going to delete most of them anyway now that people are posting photos. Since the first posting, the students have added over 100 photos.

First posting – 50 photos (the rest are mine)

blue.i.s.

Today – 110 additional photos added

blue.i.s.

My final complaint is about video uploading. I know it takes storage space, but I would like it if you could upload videos more than 100 mb. I know that’s still an alright video, it’d always be nice to have the option to post more. To remedy this, you can upload to YouTube and then pull the video in via embed code. Other than that, Ning rocks, and I am very happy with their services. I’ll blog more specifically about them later, but this is a pretty good testimonial to what you can do with them.

So far, I am very pleased with how people are using it. I do wish people had more questions, but you know what, if they don’t, then they don’t. Maybe we’ve been doing a good job delivering info to them. I’ll post another update in a couple of weeks.

23
Jun
08

A social network for freshmen at UIS

One of the projects I have been working on in the past three months was aimed at bridging the gap between MySpace and Facebook. It is often considered that MySpace is what high schoolers use and Facebook is what college students use. In every group, there are early adopters and there are late adopters and that leaves a gap between graduation and the start of their freshman year in college.

At UIS, we have summer orientation days, usually about 5 or 6. Unfortunately, because we have so many, the incoming class doesn’t get to meet each other until they arrive. Now I know at larger schools most students don’t meet everyone in their class, but at UIS, we are that right size so that the students do have that opportunity. We are also pretty flexible when it comes to assigning housing. It’s great if you already know who you are rooming with, however many students have fears of getting a roommate that is not compatible. And for these people, there usually isn’t a good way to get to know their classmates.

I really wanted a way for the students to be able to get connected prior to their arrival here in the fall. I wanted them to be able to build friendships with each other so that when they did arrive, they wouldn’t feel as lost perhaps. They can post on the forums and customize their own pages (though not to the extent of MySpace – thank goodness). They can also post photos and videos of themselves or of things they like or find funny. I really turned all the controls off and am letting them do what they want with it. It’s really for them, not for the university, so unless there is something really offensive, I’m not going to intervene. And the benefit to being only 23 is that I can get away with telling them something without it seeming like it’s coming from an authority figure.

blue.i.s. main

So anyway, for some stats. I designed some cards to hand out to them during their orientation day. I hand delivered one to each of the 59 students in attendance at 11 a.m. (right after the traditional circle video). That afternoon, I went back to my office and emailed everyone their personal invite to their new UIS email account. This not only insures that their invite reaches them, but also gets them into the habit of checking their UIS email account early. Just as the card promises, by the time they get home, they will have a personal invite in their email. By 11:15 p.m. on Friday we had 10 students join (10 of 59 = 17%). On Saturday, another 8 joined (18 of 59 = 30.5%). And on Father’s Day we had another 5 join (23 of 59 = 39%). At the writing of this post there are 29 members (49%). Not to shabby numbers if you ask me.

blue.i.s. members

They have also uploaded about 50 photos (2 per person/avg) and have been posting questions. I have uploaded the others from my Flickr account. The site has three moderators including myself. Other than Courtney and myself, any other moderators will be students (the Admissions office Student Ambassadors).

blue.i.s. photos

blue.i.s. forum

These are the things that we, as professionals working for the university, like to see.

blue.i.s.

And then this conversation.

blue.i.s.

blue.i.s.

blue.i.s.

blue.i.s.

And things like this. It’s like we paid him!

blue.i.s.

So far, they are using it for what it’s meant for. I hope that the rest of the students from the first session join at some point, and I look forward to continued success in the remaining orientations. Our next orientation day is on Monday the 23rd. So by the end of that week, I’ll be able to present some more data.




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