AMCIS 2016

Here is the tag cloud and abstract for work I co-authored, titled, “Learning Effects of Attention Guidance in Online Discussions,” which will be presented at the Americas Conference on Information Systems. I will be presenting this paper along with my colleague Evren Eryilmaz in San Diego on August 12.


This paper reports on the design and learning effects of an awareness mechanism integrated into an anchored discussion system. Drawing on social constructivist literature, the design aims to attract, retain, and if necessary reacquire students’ attention on instructional materials’ central principles in document-based asynchronous online discussions. To form a holistic picture, we operationalized learning across three dependent variables: perceived learning, knowledge gain, and learning efficiency. We performed an experimental study (N=64) across two sections of a blended-format human-computer interaction course to evaluate our design. Results show that the proposed design increased students’ perceptions of learning. However, the difference in knowledge gain scores was marginally significant, and represented a medium effect size. Interestingly, we found that our design afforded more efficient learning. Moreover, we discovered students’ perceptions of learning to be a significant predictor of their learning efficiency. Theoretical and practical implications are also discussed.

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Pokemon Go

This past semester, one of my students constructed a rather complex database, which he called the Pokemon DB. The database was an elaborate group of database tables that stored pokemon, which are are creatures (pokemon means pocket creatures) of varying shapes and sizes that live in the wild or alongside humans. They were developed by Nintendo in consortium Game Freak, and Creatures.

Last month I tried poke, which is raw tuna. Not my favorite, but it did taste good.

And last week Pokemon Go was released. I’m not the biggest gamer, but I love the social and health implications of games. In fact, I try to incorporate games into my course quizzes, albeit they are far from fun games like Pokemon Go. But I downloaded it nonetheless. So far it’s been fun, but I have no dreams of being an expert trainer. The dynamics of the game, however, have been fascinating.

The pokemon franchise came out long after I was a kid caught up in the phenomenon and therefore have no fondness for its nostalgia. However, I am impressed with how Niantic has brought the pokemon experience into the real-world where you can collect pokemon on street corners, train and fight pokemon at local gyms and scavenge for items across city landmarks.

Right now I’m a Level 8 Trainer (levels go up to 40), but I’m acknowledge my lack of skill. I’ve been to the gym and haven’t won a single match! All-in-all, it’s been fun though, although I don’t see myself dedicating my life in search of rare pokemon… I heard this one guy quit his job! God speed my friend.



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A Simple Program for Enhancing Quality in Online Discussion Boards

The below abstract was sent to the SACNAS National Conference.

Under the field of human computer interaction (HCI), the subfield of captology guides how technology can influence behavior [1]. In this research, we perform an analysis of previous online conversations and improve upon the design of an existing online discussion board. More specifically, this research focuses on how simple algorithms can be used to influence the quality and flow of online conversations resulting in greater topic-focus and more readable discussion posts.

In total, 1,629 conversations were mined for readability and keyword density. Readability was accessed using Readability Metrics, an open-source application programming interface for managing texts and their readability scores [2]. Key-word density was calculated as a ratio of total keywords found over total words posted minus all stop-words. Our analysis found that while readability increased from originations to responses, there were decreases in response readability and keyword density. Additionally, there was the tendency for users to move away from topics as discussions aged.

A social network analysis (SNA) was also performed using NodeXL, which is an open source extension for MS Excel that provides a range of basic network analytics and visualization features [3]. Our analysis discovered that users who fell within an acceptable level of quality tended to be more central to the network, while users with lower quality scores tended to be situated on the outskirts of the network. This suggests that as the quality of user posts increases, the number of responses that user receives also increases, thus increasing the density of the social network.

To remediate these issues and persuade users to deliver more on-topic, readable discussion posts, SPEQ-DB provides users with a more responsive way to judge the quality of their posts. More specifically, users can view a quality report, which dynamically analyzes and rates the content of their posts and provides users with a subset of trending keywords. Additionally, an overall group quality index is calculated and provides users with a comparison of their individual post as it is measured against the group’s average. Finally, discussion pins allow users to keep track of posts they are most interested in or find most helpful. Below is the screenshot, or you can try it out here:


To test SPEQ-DB, a design science research methodology is proposed. In design science, researchers are concerned with the way things ought to be in order to attain goals and they construct artifacts as a way of achieving these goals [4]. Building atop [5], our research asks the following questions:

R1: To what extent will SPEQ-DB enhance the quality of both origination and response posts in online conversations?

R2: To what extent will SPEQ-DB increase levels of network density within the online community?


[1] Fogg, B., & Nass, C. (1997). “Silicon sycophants: The effects of computers that flatter,” Int’l Journal of Human Computer Studies, 46(5).

[2] Ipeirotis, P. (2012). “Readability Metrics API,” Mashape. Accessed June 19, 2016 from

[3] Hansen, D., Shneiderman, B. and Smith, M. (2011). Analyzing Social Media Networks with NodeXL: Insights from a Connected World, Burlington: Morgan Kaufmann.

[4] Simon, H. (1996). The Sciences of the Artificial Third Edition, Cambridge, MA : MIT Press.

[5] Thoms, B., Eryilmaz, E. (2014). “How Media Choice Affects Learner Interactions in Distance Learning Classes,” Computers & Education, v75, pp.112-126

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Visiting Facebook

CSU Channel Islands is geographically situated a short distance from the technology-capital of the world and is in relative proximity to Silicon Valley. One of the companies nestled in this small enclave a mere five hours (no traffic) north of the university is Facebook.

Facebook is the largest online social networking company in the world with over 1.5 billion active users, including many CI students. And in April 2016, a handful of its 1.5 billion users had the chance to tour the campus.

Bringing students to this widely popular company was an invaluable learning experience, where students witnessed first-hand the many different personalities and backgrounds that facilitate Facebook’s global operations. This experience provided students with a different perspective of the Internet giant, one where they witnessed the physical work that goes into building such a virtual wonder of the world.

Here are a few quotes from the students:

“All in all, the atmostphere and culture within the walls of Facebook are very pleasing and I could see how they built it such to keep employees productive by providing everything for them on the spot and encouraging them to stay longer.” James (Comp Sci)

“Facebook is super awesome, not to mention you get to eat anything you want but they really care about their employees which makes them a successful company.” Francisco (Info Tech)

“I loved being able to see everything from a different perspective other than tech, but I most enjoyed the engineering building with a 1/4 long park on the roof.” Manny (Info Tech)

“Being a Communication major I was a bit hesitant of even wanting to go because I initally thought the trip would be better suited for IT majors but being able to take a tour of the Facebook campus gave me a whole new insight of what the tech company actually does.” Lucia (Communications)

“Their open environment allows everyone to be in the loop at all times and help each other resolve issues that have high priority first. They work in small teams and strive to change the world at a time.” Astrid (Biology)

“The fact that this has been one of the first times (for me) that a class here at CI offers an opportunity to explore a different setting out of Ventura and represent our school in itself was an amazing opportunity.” Gabi (Psychology)

facebook-group1 facebook-group2

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Here is the word cloud and abstract for work I co-authored, titled, “Task Oriented Reading of Instructional Materials and Its Relationship to Message Scores in Online Learning Conversations,” which will be presented at the 49th Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences. Good luck to my colleague Evren Eryilmaz who will be presenting!


Abstract–This paper examines the utility of an unobtrusive attention guidance functionality integrated into an anchored discussion system. Our proposed design is founded in social constructivism and accomplishes two objectives: (1) to  promote students’ task oriented reading of central domain principles from instructional materials; (2) to support students’ progressive improvement of tentative ideas focusing on central domain principles from instructional materials. We perform experimental research to test our design and apply quantitative techniques to rigorously evaluate the utility of the developed attention guidance functionality. Results show that attention guidance prompted students to reflect on and monitor their cognitive processes while reading information they deemed important. Moreover, we found that students invested deliberate efforts to improve tentative ideas by focusing on information they deemed important. Finally, we discovered such efforts to be a significant predictor of task oriented reading of central domain principles from instructional materials. Theoretical and practical implications are outlined.

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