Lies, Damn Lies, and Frosh Move In Statistics

Lies, Damn Lies, and Frosh Move In Statistics

All Devices

At Hendrix College, on new student move in day, we have a number of stations in our Student Life and Technology Center setup for getting ID cards made, getting your post office box, and for configuring student devices to the Hendrix network. 

And seemingly every year, I find myself banging my head against a desk, because I forgot to create a survey instrument to capture the devices that we were helping new students configure as they come to campus.

But not this year. This year, I remembered, and created a simple Frosher Move In Survey.

The instrument is pretty simple. Each survey page represents a single student, and each block on the page a device. We wanted to capture important pieces of data, without impeding overall flow of handling all of our new students before they had to be at new student convocation in the afternoon. So, the survey had to be concise, simple, and straightforward.

The instruments were completed by our student workers, who assisted new students as they configured their devices. We had gone over the process of filling out the surveys the week before in a “boot camp” that we conduct each semester.

How good was the data that we ultimately collected? Well, I’d say, OK.

The instrument did extremely well at capturing device type and OS, less well at capturing OS version, and just plain poorly at capturing data plan. I attribute the failings on the instrument mostly to the need to better train our student workers to ask for (and understand) data and text plans. But in fairness, maybe we should just drop those two questions off in the future. At any rate, those two data points ultimately proved to be unusable for anything useful, owing to the spotty collection of the data.

Below, I present the data we were able to collect, with some caveats.

First, this data does not represent all devices students use on campus, only those devices that we helped them configure. Anecdotally, we answered several questions regarding “smart TVs” and gaming devices. We had previously sent students directions on setting up devices themselves onto our wireless network, and so many had already done that. And, for those students who simply had a desktop PC, they just plugged the thing in the wall and were good to go. We know also that there is a broad mix of Apple TVs, Rokus, and gaming devices going into student dorms, because we watched them go in as they were being carted from their cars.

Our data represents devices we directly assisted with during the check-in process in the Student Life and Technology Center. In total, we helped about 1/3 of the incoming class with their devices (our HelpDesk would probably agree that we have since helped the other 2/3 with their devices, looking at our logs!).

In short, our data should not be used to say what precisely new students are using on our campus, but can certainly be used to indicate preferences and trends. In order to truly understand exactly say what is hitting our entire network, we’ll need to look back after the first week, to get an accurate device census. 

In the future, we’ll refine the instrument, and perhaps have the students self-report a second instrument, to see how they compare. But that, as they say, is a different task for a different day.

With the preamble out of the way, here is what we saw.

I think the word that comes to mind when looking at the All Devices data below is “mobility.” Phones predominate, followed by laptops, tablets, and everything else (with PCs being the small minority). Again, remember that PCs usually are just plugged into the wall, and may be underrepresented – but I think the trend is clear.

To me, the one really surprising device that I didn’t see at move in was a Chromebook. I would have at least expected to see one out the hundreds of devices we configured, given the emphasis Google has placed on K-12 education. When I go to the local middle and high schools in the area, I see them everywhere. Maybe we’ll see a few “in the wild” when we poll actual network traffic this week.

And a passing note – we didn’t see any wearables come through our line. Not surprising in some cases – with Google Glass being a $1,500 device. Still, next year I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see this category of devices amply represented.

All Devices

The Computers data was the most significant to me. Anecdotally, when I first arrived at Hendrix in 2011, we configured maybe 1 Mac in every 3 computers that we assisted on new student move in day. Now, MacBooks predominate over all other laptops, and over PC laptops and desktops combined. Again, this data underrepresents desktops already setup in the dorms. But the likelihood of our students having both a desktop and a laptop is low. Given the high numbers of iOS phones and tablets our new students have, and from our raw survey data, I believe this aptly represents the tight coupling of the Apple device ecosystem; if they have an Apple computer, they most likely have an Apple Phone and / or a tablet. The converse absolutely can’t be said of owning a Microsoft PC, and being predisposed to owning Microsoft phones or tablets.


The Tablets data was surprising to me, only in that Microsoft tablets (Surface) had a slight edge over Android tablets. Just from my personal walking around on campus, I had not seen a student carrying a Surface (though several of our staff own and use them).


The Phones data is surprising, because it is counter to the larger phone market (where Android predominates). Does this mean that Apple device owners simply need more help, and Android users are more self-reliant? Does it say something about our student demographic? One should be careful projecting too much, but it is an interesting finding.


And finally, I present Devices per Student. This will seem very low to those of you working on college campuses, and you will be right. Remember, this data is just for devices we helped configure in our move in process, and does not account for devices setup by students themselves or already plugged into the wall in their dorms.

Devices per Student

I hope this data is of interest to you, gentle reader, and would welcome your comments, concerns, and suggestions on how we might do a better job next year.

Associated Colleges of the South CIO Hangout – BYOD

Associated Colleges of the South CIO Hangout – BYOD

A panel of technologists and CIOs from the Associated Colleges of the South, discussing Technology, Tools, and Tactics.

David J. Hinson, EVP & CIO of Hendrix College, and Todd Watson, Senior Director of Information Technology at Southwestern University, discuss the BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) phenomena on campus, and what impact it is having on College and University infrastructures.

Associated Colleges of the South CIO Hangout – Professional Development

Associated Colleges of the South CIO Hangout – Professional Development

In this Hangout, we discuss staff development programs, reviews, preventative / intervention tactics, and how consortia can aid in our staff development efforts. Joining in is Pat Schoknecht, CIO of Rollins College.

They’re More Like “Guidelines” Than Actual Rules

They’re More Like “Guidelines” Than Actual Rules

Social Media

If you’ve ever worked in Higher Ed, you’re used to working within a complex maze of rules, procedures, and committees.

At Hendrix College, when we were contemplating how we might put together some “helps” for our people as they navigate the wilds of Social Media, the very last thing we wanted to do was to impose yet another layer of opaque policies atop an already dizzying array of existing policies governing personal behaviour exhibited while representing the institution publicly.

Instead, we have attempted to provide some simple, pragmatic guidelines for effectively engaging on social media channels – transparently, accurately, and with respect for the communities in which we converse.

Did we succeed? Let us know.

How Do I Create an Opening Animation Sequence for iOS Apps?

How Do I Create an Opening Animation Sequence for iOS Apps?

Ever wondered how some of your favorite iOS apps (like Twitter) create those cool opening animations when the application loads?

Well – wonder no more!

The place you work this magic is in your application’s AppDelegate file.

More specifically, the work is performed inside the didFinishLaunchingWithOptions method, just after you make your window key and visible:

- (BOOL)application:(UIApplication *)application 
  (NSDictionary *)launchOptions
self.window = [[UIWindow alloc] 
  initWithFrame:[[UIScreen mainScreen] bounds]];

// Your other launch related code here...

[self.window makeKeyAndVisible];

UIImageView *imageView = [[UIImageView alloc] 
  initWithFrame:[[UIScreen mainScreen] bounds]];
imageView.image = [UIImage imageNamed:@"myImage"];

imageView.contentMode = UIViewContentModeCenter;
imageView.backgroundColor = 
  [UIColor colorWithRed:89.0/255.0 
  green:152.0/255.0 blue:201.0/255.0 alpha:1.0];
[self.window addSubview:imageView];

[UIView animateWithDuration:3.0 animations:^{
  imageView.alpha = 0.0f;
} completion:^(BOOL finished){
  [imageView removeFromSuperview];

return YES;

The code is fairly self explanatory, though this example is admittedly very simple.

The steps?

  • Create an image view.
  • Load it up with one (or more) images.
  • Set whatever options (sizing, etc.) you want on the image.
  • Add the image view as a subview to your main application window
  • Perform your animations. In my case, I chose to use the UIView class method, animateWithDuration, since it allowed me to easily do cleanup, once my applications finished animating. In this example, I simply fade the initial image… but you can follow your imagination here.
  • When your animations complete, remove your image view from the application’s super view.

That’s it.

Happy Coding!


Successful Video Conferences – The Last Unicorn

The Peril of Long Engagements

The Peril of Long Engagements

Rusty Tools
Photo credit:

Back in the day, when contracting was my full time gig, I had to carefully consider the merits of prolonging certain long-term engagements. Some projects required so much commitment and focus, there was a real danger – over the life of that project – that many of my other technical skills would go to seed. This was especially true of projects that ran between 18 months and three years in duration.

I know this must seem like a fantasy to many of you – but yes, many projects in the past did actually use to go on for a couple of years or so. Internet Time is actually a recent occurrence (relative to geologic time).

The dilemma one always faced: chasing financial stability, versus keeping marketable skills fresh and up to date.

The Great Recession changed a lot of that worry, naturally.

Even so, a like challenge faces even full time employees (and even those full time employees engaged in tech related industries) – how does one stay current and conversant as a generalist, keeping up with current education and trends, when so much time is spent in becoming expert in a focused area of expertise? How does one keep their pursuit of “deep domain” knowledge and expertise from sabotaging their ability to keep and maintain a marketable set of skills needed for the next gig, the next promotion, or the next job?

The straightforward answers are:

Never stop learning.

Never stop challenging.

Never stop changing.

Try these practices on for size:

  • Learn New Skills. Especially when you’re in a stable, long-term engagement, the inclination is to ease back a little. You should use this period of stability to increase and improve your skillsets. Ask to be trained. Lobby for hack days. Push for 20% time.
  • Keep Presentin’. If you really want to master a skill or a subject, try teaching it. Presenting before others, especially in an environment where your position or opinion may be publicly challenged, is a sure-fire way to stay sharp. Plus, you will raise your profile as a subject matter expert in the bargain.
  • Re-invent Yourself. One of my personal favorites. We all need to put ourselves at risk from time to time. It’s how we grow as people, and as professionals. Put yourself out there. Try a project with entirely new tools and knowledge domains. Create opportunities for positive change, by empowering yourself to change.

Never stop learning. Never stop challenging. Never stop changing.

And – never stop railing against complacency, the true peril.


Raspberry Pi Bake-Off, 2014 Edition

For the past two March 14ths (Pi Day!), Hendrix College has hosted a Raspberry Pi Bake-Off, an exposition / competition where local students, enthusiasts, and entrepreneurs can showcase their über cool Raspberry Pi projects.

The video below is from the most recent Bake-Off (2014) and features several Pi projects, and the super awesome people who created them.


Reliable Reach

Reliable Reach

Reliable ReachLast week in Orlando, Social Fresh held the Social Fresh EAST conference, a single-track social media event with no panels, and all speakers given 25 minutes to bring their best social mojo to the stage.

And they did.

I won’t attempt to do justice by recapping the awesome content presented over a two day period.

But I will try and relate how one concept, Reliable Reach (expounded upon by social marketer extraordinare Jay Baer) is not just a problem in Social Media, but is a more general problem in even extremely localized marketing and communications.

Imagine you are a person of influence, like Jay, who has 122,000 followers on Twitter. Just because one sends out a tweet to those followers, doesn’t mean 122,000 people will actually be reached by that message. They’re doing something else. They’re away from their desks. They’re working. Maybe only a small fraction, say a couple of thousand, actually see the message.

That small fraction of audience that saw the message represents the reliable reach of that message.

Instagram and email have high reliable reach. Facebook and Twitter do not (though, arguably, Twitter has more reliable reach than Facebook).

The idea that Jay was hammering home was, that as social media channels become more popular and monetizable, reliable reach is restricted by pay-to-play, and that “rifling” high value content to a single media channel is less effective than “shotgunning” lesser value content to many media channels, in order to improve reliable reach.

Now, think about messaging within your organization; in my case, a small liberal arts college. What are the communications channels with reliable reach?

There are emails. There are listservs. There’s the website. There’s the daily news blast announcing what’s for lunch. There are trustee and alumni newsletters. There’s the school magazine. There’s earned media. There are a myriad number of social media subgroups on a plethora of social media sites. There is the student press. And there are the crowded bulletin boards across campus, crammed with band flyers, events, and speaker announcements.

So many channels. So little reliable reach.

Now, to apply Jay’s reasoning, one would need to hit as many of these hyper-local channels as possible, in order to attain maximum reliable reach. Even if you were to craft a beautiful, high value piece of content in one channel, there would be swaths of people who “live” only in the other channels who will be outside the influence of your messaging.

This is a very tall order – and also very discouraging.

Jay Baer’s advice was to add more people, to fill these channels with content.

But you probably don’t have that option. If you’re in higher education (at least, these days) I guarantee you’re not going to go out and hire people simply to improve reliable reach.

It’s not unwillingness – it’s economics.

So – what to do?

I believe the only approach one can reasonably expect to be able to do, in at least trying to fill as many channels of content as one can to improve maximum reach, is to atomize your content, with the explicitly designed intent of repurposing all content.

Design your video content to be remixed into multiple channels. Lay out stories in digestible chunks. Shop blog posts out  to earned media channels. Create cross-functional teams (IT working with Communications working with Admissions working with Development) that are intent upon creating and sharing all content.

I claim that not only is this approach vital to maximizing reliable reach, it’s the only way that small companies and organizations stand a chance of getting attention in an evermore balkanized attention economy.

The road ahead doesn’t look to be getting any easier. Our communication channels will continue to have diminished reliable reach, even as we are more ubiquitously connected.

We have to become smarter, and more reliant on our colleagues, in order to make sure our stories are told, they way we want to tell them, to the people we wish to tell them to.




#College_CIO – What Are the Challenges of the Higher Ed CIO?

What are the challenges facing today’s Higher Ed CIOs? Some of these you’ll immediately recognize; others will soon demand your undivided attention.