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D iversity C ollege Building connections to the future. Virtual Community Orientation and Training Project Patrick Englert Christina Thompson Jessica Randall.

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Presentation on theme: "D iversity C ollege Building connections to the future. Virtual Community Orientation and Training Project Patrick Englert Christina Thompson Jessica Randall."— Presentation transcript:

1 D iversity C ollege Building connections to the future. Virtual Community Orientation and Training Project Patrick Englert Christina Thompson Jessica Randall University of Louisville

2 What is a Virtual Community? A virtual community is a space where personal information can be posted and engagement among members takes place through an interactive website. Facebook is a popular virtual community used at Diversity College. Facebook ( is a virtual community for college students where members are required to have college e-mail addresses to join. As a member of Facebook, a student can create a profile that includes basic information, contact information, personal information, and photos. Information in these profiles can include campus/local address, phone numbers, relationship status, political views, interests, class schedule, etc. Students can invite other students at their university or other universities to be friends or interact. Students have the ability to send and receive messages from other Facebook users. Students can also join groups that may be related to various topics or student organizations. When creating their profile students have several privacy options to choose from which will limit who is able to see and read their profiles. Other popular virtual communities include Myspace and LiveJournal where students are able to post personal information and daily entries about what is happening in their lives.

3 Good Practice: Identity Development and Virtual Communities Through interaction and exploration within a virtual community students have the opportunity to learn more about themselves as well as other cultures, values, and beliefs. This exploration may enhance and promote further development of identity. Chickerings (1969) 7 vectors of development discusses the process with which students develop identity. The use of promotes students to explore areas such as developing competence, developing mature interpersonal relationships, developing integrity, and ultimately defining identity. An individuals influence from society, culture, gender, and the cultural interaction they experience greatly impacts the level of identity development taking place (Erikson 1959/1980 as cited by Evans et al. 1998). Therefore as professionals we must identify the positive and negative identity development and other virtual communities promote.

4 Good Practice: Community Development and Virtual Communities Communities existence on college campuses are integral to student success. The level with which a student is connected as well as feeling valued is directly related to the quality of existing and newly developed communities. According to Schlossbergs (1989) 4 aspects of mattering, students who do not feel as if they matter tend to feel marginalized and therefore perform less effectively in the college environment. Through attention, importance, and dependence students feel more connected and needed. is based upon a community concept. Through exploration within virtual communities students may gain a sense of belonging as well as being able to actively reflect and engage in their involvement. Involvement in could allow professionals the opportunity to target students struggling to connect as well as bridging the current gap between real-time communities and virtual communities.

5 Good Practice: Involvement Opportunities and Virtual Communities Involvement plays an extremely important role in student development. Virtual communities provide students with an opportunity to remain up to date with current events, promotions, and communication related to campus organizations. In many cases students are creating their own smaller communities composed of members of their residence halls, campus organizations, and students within their classes. Ultimately, they are making intentional connections throughout campus Astin(1984) stresses the necessity of student involvement related to personal development. This involvement is defined as the amount of physical and psychological energy devoted to experiences (Evans et al. 1998, 26). Student Affairs professionals may use virtual communities as a means to foster real-time communities, promote programming, and encourage students to make further connections on campus.

6 Potential Pitfall: Identity Misrepresentation and Theft Diversity College has recently experienced an identity theft issue involving a stolen password and harassing messages send under a false identity within a online community. Identity theft is one of the fastest growing crimes and it leaves college students particularly vulnerable to victimization. (US Department of Education, 2003) Community living situations may increase probability of identity misrepresentation and theft crimes, as research suggests that most victims know those who have stolen their personal information. (

7 Potential Pitfall: Student Safety Virtual communities encourage users to share personal information. For example, Facebook provides fields for cell phone number, campus address, and class schedule. Studies have shown that students are likely to freely share personal information that would help aid a potential criminal. (Mesloh, Thompson, & Laden, 2006) Divulging this information makes students vulnerable to harassment or other security threats.

8 Potential Pitfall: Internet Addiction Internet Addiction is a new concern among mental health professionals that displays similar behaviors to that of gambling addiction or substance abuse. New research introduces varying labels for excessive internet use ranging from Problematic Internet Use to Internet Addiction Disorder. In all cases, symptoms include a need for increased internet use, mood modification, and life disruption such as time management issues or strains in relationships. Research is limited on this new problem; however it is estimated that 6% of users may suffer from internet addiction. College students may be especially vulnerable due to developmental factors and free internet access. Online communities present an opportunity to develop relationships without stressors such as fear of judgment or prejudices. This environment is especially attractive to college students, increasing the risk of internet addiction. (Hall & Parsons, 2001)

9 Potential Pitfall: False Sense of Privacy Some information that students share within online communities may raise concerns with future employers or the college. For example, students often post pictures which depict substance and alcohol abuse or may post messages that are in poor taste or conflict with student code of conduct policies. Several colleges and universities have begun to take action against students who disclose inappropriate behavior in an online community. (Hagel, 2006 & Doyle, 2005) Diversity College may define their position about this in the future. Many employers use the internet to research job candidates. Information within virtual communities may be found, and if inappropriate may lead to students losing out on employment opportunities. (Flesher, 2006)

10 Assessment Related to Virtual Communities Diversity College believes it is necessary to evaluate the process that we are implementing in the Fall 2007 semester. Therefore, we will incorporate the following as means to assess the validity and success of this tutorial related to first year populations: A pre-test will be administered before students begin the tutorial. The questions in this section will assess the experiences and needs of these new students related to virtual communities. Two questions promote individual reflection and writing. A post-test is administered after all topics have been explored within the tutorial. These questions actually test for information learned within the tutorial as well as assuring there is a greater sense of awareness related to virtual communities. The last assessment will come in the form of a survey to be administered in the fall semester of these new students Senior year. This survey will serve as a means to assess what effect virtual communities are having on students overall college experience as well as gaining qualitative data in regard to virtual communities, since the amount of data available is currently minimal. The long term effectiveness of the training will also be assessed.

11 SOLUTION TO POSED PROBLEM Students will be provided with the opportunity to engage in the learning process and form their own opinions related to virtual communities. The tutorial will cover all of the Good Practices and Potential Pitfalls discussed in this presentation. The incident that was the catalyst for this project also included the posting of pornographic pictures and slanderous comments that were not in congruence with the mission and values of Diversity College. This issue will also be addressed in First Year Experience classes. While diversity and community values are part of these classes already, curriculum will specifically address these topics in a virtual community setting. The tutorial has been created in a way that is conducive to active learning and utilizes various learning styles so as to foster learning throughout the process. Currently 2 areas of the module are available for viewing within the presentation today. Tutorial clearly states Diversity Colleges stance on virtual communities and promotes both the negative and positive attributes to Login information and instructions for the tutorial will be sent to students over the summer in their first-year orientation packages In order for students to receive their Diversity College user ID and Password to access the internet, email, and virtual communities students must complete the tutorial and score a B or better on the Post Test. Upon completion of Post Test student will either be given his or her user ID and password or reschedule a time to review the module and retest.

12 B B ecoming a R R esponsible and I I ntentional D D ecision-maker through G G uidance and E E ducation A tutorial designed to orient new students to virtual communities while at Diversity College. New students should complete tutorial no later than September 1, 2006. To retake the post test please contact the Diversity College IT department to schedule a time at ext. # 5667

13 V-BRIDGE: Allows students to access a plethora of tools which they may use to create their own values and beliefs related to virtual communities. Essentially, building a bridge for learning and grasping concepts. Know how to effectively utilize virtual communities to maximize your experience at Diversity College. Have the needed information to develop your own values and attitudes about being part of an online community. Be able to develop responsible decision making in your involvement of virtual communities. Understand the risks involved in sharing personal information online. Welcome to V-BRIDGE, a program designed to orient you to the world of virtual communities. At Diversity College, we understand that participation in these groups is an important part of the student experience. We want to ensure that Diversity students have a safe and positive online experience. By the end of this training, you will: The program will include a Pre-test, educational information, testimonials from virtual community users and a Post-test. In order to log on to the Diversity College computer system this fall, you must pass this test with a B or better. The program will take you 30-45 minutes to complete

14 PRETEST: To begin click on the slide and complete each question. This section must be completed to proceed to the rest of the virtual community tutorial. *This section is not scored and information gathered will not be identified with your log-in name. Have you ever used a virtual community such as or in the past? YES NO Do you think you will use a virtual community while enrolled at Diversity College? YES NO What information do you plan to share within the virtual community? (Check All that Apply) Name Email Address Telephone Number Campus Address Permanent Address Relationship Status Class schedule Photos of myself and my friends Future Goals A personal blog about my life. I will talk about things like my classes, parties I attend and fun things about my friends. Student Organizations I belong to. What privacy setting will you use in your virtual community? Any one can see my information. Just people at Diversity College can see my information. If a friend of my friend wants to look at my info, that will be okay. Only the people I designate as my friends will have access to my profile I would consider logging on to my best friends virtual community profile to send out fake messages to our friends as a joke. Very Likely Somewhat Likely Never I hope that within a virtual community I can: (check all that apply) Keep in touch with old friends. Meet new people. Find a date. Learn about what is happening on campus, like when meetings are scheduled for the student organizations I am involved in. I currently use the internet __________hours a day for recreational activities such as spending time in a virtual community. 0-1 hour 2-4 hours 4-6 hours 6 or more I think that I will spend __________ hours a day using the internet for recreation, like spending time in a virtual community. 0-1 hour 2-4 hours 4-6 hours 6 or more I am not worried about the content of my online profile, it is my private space. Somewhat Agree Agree Somewhat Disagree Disagree Share a positive a positive experience you have had in a virtual community. Share a negative experience you have had in a virtual community. Congratulations! You finished the pretest!

15 Main Menu: Navigating the main menu is easy and fast. Simply click the area that you would like to explore. You may return to any section by simply clicking on the main menu and selecting a topic. You must explore each area in totality before taking the Post-Test. The Post-Test icon will not be activated until all areas are explored. Please be advised that one you enter the Post- Test you may not quit or pause the process.

16 I signed up for facebook with the intention to connect with my friends. It was a lot of fun at first, but due to me not setting my privacy settings strong enough an ex-boyfriend gained access to my current address and phone number. He began harassing me and actually tracked me down outside of my class because I had posted my class schedule. I have learned the importance of not posting private information. I would recommend thinking about what you do and do not want people to know about you. Bill Williams Piper Allen Cindy Cecil I never even considered safety when I signed up for I had been talking to a guy from one of my classes for a couple of weeks when we finally decided to meet up. It went really well at first but once I decided I did not like him, he ended up using information I had posted on to stalk me as well as creating a group that was extremely inappropriate using my name. Safety: Safety in a virtual community is of extreme importance. The next slides will provide testimonials, tips for a safe experience as well as a tutorial that will allow you to practice setting your privacy level and effectively choosing a password you can remember and use to prevent anyone, ranging from your roommate to your best friend, from accessing your account. My roommate stole my password, which I has hidden in my desk drawer. He posted pictures we had taken one night while hanging out with friends and they were extremely embarrassing. I was unaware of this until I got back from being out of town for the weekend. I learned how important it is to change my password often and never write it down so that other can access it. allows lots of people to see what you post, which can be really scary and damaging.

17 Organizational Usage: can be a powerful tool. These slides will provide you with ideas to get the most out of your virtual experience. You will view ways in which other Diversity College students have used to increase attendance at programs, advertised for events, and create unique college communities as a means for involvement opportunities. This portion of the tutorial will also allow you to create a group of your own, teach you how to post messages, and challenge you to think about appropriate posting as well as inappropriate usage of It is so quick and easy just to make a post and send it out to the community we have going on When we are planning a social or get together we simply make an announcement on and everyone is plugged into the excitement. Virtual communities have revolutionized the success student senate has had on campus. We went from a struggling organization to a membership of nearly 150 students. Plugging into what the student body is interested in has made all the difference. I highly recommend using virtual communities as a means for enhancing your organization. Student Senate Representatives at a social held in the student center. Sarah Jenkins in Washington D.C. I never dreamed that I would be able to recruit 85 people to attend a trip to Washington D.C. with the Student Senate. I tried flyers and word of mouth, however when I began sending messages on and even started a group entitled D.C. here we come suddenly numbers started to grow. The group became really close before we ever left for D.C. because of the communication and discussions that took place through In many ways it was like everyone already new each other. I realized that virtual communities are a powerful tool to student organizations. ADVERTISEORGANIZEUTILIZEIMPLEMENT

18 POST-TEST Please click on the slide to begin. Once you begin you will be unable to stop. At the completion of the test you will receive your score. Good Luck! When registering for an account with I should: Set privacy settings immediately Display pertinent information such as name, schedule, and phone number Create User Profile None of the above Virtual Communities offer many positive opportunities such as serving as a place to promote activities. True False A virtual Community is: An internet space to interact and engage with other college students. A dangerous community if not used properly and safely. A space to become involved and connected. All of the above. It is appropriate to log-in under someone elses username? True False If I were to meet someone from a virtual community I should: Meet in a public area and bring a friend. Invite the individual to my residence hall as long as I stay in the lobby. Spend time talking over the phone, but as long as that goes well meet the individual. One should never meet someone from a virtual community. It is possible to be addicted to a virtual community: True False It is okay to post messages with degrading or prejudice jokes in my profile, it is my private space. True False If my friend has too much to drink at a party, posting pictures to Facebook will carry no consequences for me or my friend, it is just us being crazy on the weekend. True False It is possible to be addicted to a virtual community: True False Student Organizations could use as a positive means of encouraging student engagement. True False Please let us know at least one thing you learned about virtual communities today: CONGRATULATIONS! YOU HAVE COMPLETED THE TEST!

19 Implications For Practice Student affairs professionals should be aware of students knowledge of or lack of knowledge about Internet and online safety. Student affairs professionals should be aware of how much and to what extent students at their university are using the Internet and exploring virtual communities. Administrators should develop and implement training sessions about Internet privacy such as those used at other universities like Virginia Commonwealth University (Read, 2006). Administrators should be prepared to address the issue of the use of online photos and information in disciplinary cases. Some universities such as the University of Kentucky have used online information to discipline students for alcohol-related violations resulting from photos on Facebook (McGuffin, 2005)

20 REFERENCES Astin(1984) as cited by Evans (1998). Student Development in College: Theory, Research, and Practice. P. 26. Chickering(1969) as cited by Evans et al. (1998). Student Development in College: Theory, Research, and Practice. P. 38-40. Doyle, B. (2005). UM hands down facebook verdict. The Retrieved on February 15 th, 2006 from 1592830.shtml?norewrite& Erikson (1959/1980) as cited by Evans et al.(1998). Student Development in College: Theory, Research, and Practice. P.32. Facebook. Flesher, J. (2006). How to clean up your digital dirt before it trashes your job search. The Wall Street Journal Executive Career Site. Retrieved February 15, 2006 from Hall, A., Parsons, J. (2001). Internet addiction: college student case study using best practices in cognitive behavior therapy. Journal of Mental Health Counseling. 23(4). Hagel, J. (2006). Not for students eyes only. The Dakota Student Online. Retrieved on February 13, 2006 from Mesloh, C., Thompson, F., Laden, M. (2006). Virtual fun with real-world consequences. Campus Safety Magazine Online. Retrieved on February 13 th, 2006 from McGuffin, C. (2005, December 9). Facebook photos convict students. Kentucky Kernel. Retrieved January 31, 2006, from Read, B. (2006). Think before you share [Electronic version]. The Chronicle of Higher Education, 52(20). Retrieved January 18, 2006 from Schlossberg(1989) as cited by Evans et al.(1998) Student Development in College: Theory, Research, and Practice. P. 32. US Department of Education. (2003). Students Urged to Protect their Identity. Retrieved from US Department of Education website on February 15 th, 2006 from University of Michigan. (2006) Protecting Against Identity Misrepresentation and Theft. Online Resource. Retrieved on February 10 th from

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