2021 IADIS Conference on Information Systems

My colleagues and I recently published and presented our article, “Developing a Mobile Social Learning Application for Interdisciplinary Technology Courses,” at the 2021 IADIS Conference on Information Systems. I published at IADIS back in 2007 and won Best Research Paper. My how time has flown. Below is the word cloud of the paper, abstract and citation.

IADIS 2021 Word Cloud

Abstract
Smartphone adoption has grown steadily and now represents roughly 50% of all Internet traffic. Advances in mobile application development along with its widespread adoption offers unique opportunities within computing education to quickly offer knowledge and information directly into the hands of the learner. Adopting a mobile-first approach, this paper introduces the construction of a mobile social learning platform, built on top of existing social learning software and measures its adoption in interdisciplinary computing courses. The goal of the mobile app is to complement the browser-based system and provide access to course notifications, gradebook and discussion posts. Initial results found 50% of students adopting the smartphone app regularly, while most students preferred to use the browser-based system. Students adopting the mobile application indicated that they liked the ability to view course notifications, assignments, grades and instructor feedback from within the mobile app.

Citation
B. Thoms, E. Eryilmaz, “Developing a Mobile Social Learning Application for Interdisciplinary Technology Courses,” Proceedings of IADIS Conference on Information Systems, March 3-5, 2021.

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OneDrive for my one drive? Not likely.

I recently migrated the contents of my Dropbox to Microsoft OneDrive since I understand I was on borrowed time at my university, which plans to retire Dropbox in the near future. It has been 1-week now and many files are still not in sync with the cloud service. While the migration issues have been frustrating, what I am more concerned about is how new / recent files are synchronized. In fact, it’s just plain miserable.

Empty OneDrive Directory on Upload

Case in point 1, I use screenshots religiously to take snapshots of applications, which I can then embed into presentations. After uploading the presentation from my smartphone to OneDrive, I received an alert, stating that the file was uploaded. The following screenshot begs to differ. A day later, it’s still empty, although it’s showing on my desktop machine. I’m not even sure this is a syncing issue since it’s not showing on the device I uploaded it from. And why it shows on a different machine before the machine it’s uploaded from is baffling.

Desktop Screenshots

Case in point 2, I frequently use my desktop to construct recommendations for students, which I digitally sign on my smartphone using Adobe Sign. Today, I encountered a never-ending refresh icon on my desktop and only one of the updates is showing on my mobile device. Guess which one is not showing? Yes, of course, the file that requires the signature. Screenshots of this transaction are below.

OneDrive Desktop Changes
OneDrive Cloud Changes?

To say these issues are frustrating is moot. The issues make the technology unusable and I’ll be moving back to Dropbox before the end of the day since the technology is unreliable.

Not to be overly critical of Microsoft since I experienced the same issues using Google Drive many years ago. I guess this shows the impressive nature of Dropbox and how sophisticated their replication and indexing capabilities are. In my experience using Dropbox, I have never run into issues syncing files to the extent I am facing with OneDrive.

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Google Ad-targeting and Privacy Concerns

Last month I received the ad below:

Visit Avila Beach

On the surface, this ad seems harmless enough. After all, living in Los Angeles, I would love to take a drive through the central coast and spend a weekend in Avila Beach and maybe even go surfing in my new, very warm and cozy Body Glove Red Cell wetsuit. However, why this ad was targeted at me is cause for concern. I received this ad only after a few communications in MS Outlook with a student of mine, who has, let’s just say, a similar name.

For those who aren’t aware, FERPA stands for the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974 and is a US federal law that governs the access to educational information and records by public entities such as potential employers, publicly funded educational institutions, and foreign governments. For me, I send a lot of communications through my Android device, which raises a few important questions such as, 1) Is Google scanning my Outlook communications?, 2) Is Google taking screenshots of my devices, and 3) Does any of this violate FERPA?

I’d love to hear some answers…

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Anything for a buck…

Google Opinion Rewards is an app launched by Google a few years ago as a rewards-based program that allows users to answer surveys and earn rewards. In short summary, users are notified when new surveys are available, which can range from sharing location data, sharing experiences on YouTube or sharing a shopping receipt, where users can receive up to $1.00 Google Play credit for completing it. Surveys can expire, so users have to be quick to answer them, although they usually hang around for a day or two.

Looking back on my Reward history, I have been participating since December 2013, where my first survey earned me a buck. Not bad. While the majority of my surveys earn me ten cents, I have amassed a total of $186.67 across 661 surveys, which I can use to purchase Google products and service. I’m sure there’s a way to get the cash as well.

As they say, anything for a buck!

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SMS Says I Voted… for kodos

I voted in another election? It looks like I did anyway.

Very thankfully, I live in California. And without diving too much into a political science debate, I like to think that, even given all the challenges our largest state in the union faces politically, I like to think we all support the idea of early voting. Full disclosure, I’m a native New Yorker. With this comes a frustration and chronic impatience of waiting on lines, whether at a stoplight or at a coffee shop. Early voting removes this frustration of waiting in a queue and allows me the time I need to research my votes from my own home. That said, people express concerns about early voting. For me, the concern has been if my ballot is being received and will be counted. Once again, I am lucky to live in a jurisdiction that allows me to track my ballot with relative ease. This year I signed up to receive text messages as my ballot is tracked through the process. I dropped mine off with the USPS. I wasn’t nervous about it counting, but certainly things can happen and ballots can be lost. Thanks to tech, I can see my vote “for the 2020 General Election was received and will be counted.”

I Vote

Election Project is a great initiative tracking early voting in the U.S. Not only does it track early mail-in and in-person voting, it provides a run-down of outstanding ballots by party where available and the number of rejected ballots. Good info for those keeping track of the popularity of early voting.

Regarding rejected ballots, I feel there should be an automated system (they have our voter info) that alerts a voter to whether their ballot was rejected, which will give them the opportunity on election day to vote in-person. Other improvements to the voting system can also be improved I’m sure, but I believe the early voting provides the best opportunity for the greatest voter turn-out. Voting should not have to be a single-day sacrificial event. It should be a process, aided by technology, to ensure the highest levels of participation for what is a right as citizens. It makes you wonder what the motives are for those that want to restrict voting rights.

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