Thursday, April 30, 2009

Profile: Professor Joe Valacich

WSU Professor Joe Valacich discusses Internet auctions, “cloud” computing, and his dream trip to Croatia.

Q. How do Internet sites encourage impulse purchases?
A. When shopping online, there is a tug of war in your brain between the pleasurable response (I like how that looks, I would love to see my friends’ faces if I had that) and the rational side (do I really need it? how will I pay for it?).
If the Web site is slow or unattractive or raises security questions, that makes you pause, giving you more time to think and reducing the chances of an impulse purchase. Internet auction sites, on the other hand, use a countdown clock to make you feel like you don’t have time to stop and think, which increases the odds of an impulse purchase.

Q. What is the next big shift in technology? More...
A. There will be continued innovation on the Web and all technologies. Mobile devices like iPhones will continue to evolve in terms of capabilities. Laptops will continue to get smaller and lighter; more of your information and applications will be stored online (“cloud” computing), so the current trend with “net books” (small, limited capability-type notebooks) will become mainstream and provide more than enough capabilities for most people.

Q. You can spend a month anywhere in the world. Where do you go?
A. Croatia. That is where my heritage roots are. … I have visited once and found the grandson of my grandfather’s younger brother (my grandfather was born in Croatia and came to the U.S. in 1902). We didn’t know each other existed and it was quite an exciting time to find each other. I plan to get back as often as I can to explore the country, people, and language. In fact, I have a short, three-day trip there in June, between teaching in Norway and Latvia this summer.

Q. What’s the last music you bought?
A. Linkin Park, Chili Peppers, Nickleback, Lifehouse, Daughtry, Maroon 5, Matchbox 20.

Q. Do you have pets? What are their names?
A. We have two dogs, white tea-cup Pomeranians named Lou and Vinny. We also have four horses and an ever-changing number of barn cats.

Q. Where were you born?
A. Great Falls, Montana.

Q. Favorite motto?
A. Publish and prosper!

Joe Valacich is the George & Carolyn Hubman Distinguished Professor in Management Information Systems. He has a B.S. in computer science and MBA from the University of Montana, a doctorate from the University of Arizona, and has taught in Norway, Latvia, Hong Kong, Finland, Indiana, Arizona. He’s written five books, and over 70 articles on information systems. He lives in Moscow, Idaho, with his wife and two children.
More information on Valacich is online.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Try out Angel on Monday

Angel, the new learning managment system replacing Blackboard, will go into effect for DDP students this summer. But the tutorial is online now. And the demo course will be available starting Monday, May 4. To log in, go to the Angel home page and sign in as wsuonline. The password is global.

Bookie move affects DDP students. The Bookie is moving its DDP department from the CUB to its Bookie Too branch. The change happens in mid-June and affects the addresses and contact info you need for text buybacks and purchases. Get all the details.

Monday, April 27, 2009

DDP student first to get President's Award

Sandy Thomas, who “exemplifies the best of an American spirit of giving back,” has become the first Distance Degree Programs student to receive Washington State University’s President’s Award.
The Bellingham resident was among 44 undergraduate and graduate students chosen for the 2009 award, which honors students for leadership and community engagement. Thomas is majoring in social sciences, and studying history. Her minor is in political science. She has a 3.93 GPA, and will graduate in spring 2010.
Thomas is married to Doug Thomas, a 1987 WSU graduate. “I want to hang my diploma next to my husband’s,” she said. Their daughter, Lauren, plans to attend WSU after she graduates from Bellingham High School next year. “My end game goal was to finish my degree before my daughter comes here,” Thomas said at Sunday’s awards banquet in Pullman.
Thomas will use her degree to further her long list of philanthropic work, which includes volunteering at Bellingham High School and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, and serving as a School Buddy Mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters.
“She has truly spoiled our staff,” Bellingham Principal Steve Clarke said in his nomination letter, citing her coordination of monthly staff luncheons that serve up to 100 staffers. “We are the envy of the other schools in town.”
Thomas has also headed the school’s PTSA’s Teacher Appreciation Program, served on the Superintendent’s Parent Advisory, and works at least once a week in the copy center. “Sandy Thomas is a saint!” Clarke said. “She gives of her time and energy virtually every day here.”
She also was an intern for U.S. Rep. Rick Larsen, D-Wash. “What made Sandy’s time with us exceptional was the amount she was able to give back to both the office and our constituents,” said her supervisor, Luke Loeffler.
Thomas’ internship was part of her Liberal Arts 497 course, taught by Carla Michaelsen. “Sandy Thomas exemplifies the best of an American spirit of giving back through dedication, perseverance and compassion,” Michaelsen said.
Thomas said the award is especially meaningful for a DDP student. “I’ve received great support from the DDP staff and from the professors, and tons of encouragement from home,” she said, “but as a DDP student, you’re kind of on your own.
“To have the school recognize me as part of the Cougar family means the world to me.”
See the Daily Evergreen’s coverage of the event and a complete list of winners.

Friday, April 24, 2009

New edition of student newsletter

Hot off the virtual presses, the new Cyber Coug newsletter is now available. The student-produced newsletter can be seen here.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

How fast is your Internet connection?

If it's taking forever to download that video of a cat chasing a laser beam, maybe it's your Internet connection. You can check your Internet connection speed for free by clicking here.
For DDP students, download speed is about to get even more important. The DDP is moving most required course media into its new Media Center, so students can watch videos on their computer, instead of having them mailed. If you check your speed now, you'll know whether you are: 1) fast as lightning, 2) need a new Internet provider, 3) need to request that your media be mailed.
Information about the Media Center is in your summer registration confirmation e-mail. Want the details right now? Go to our Web page for more information. Or check out our FAQ page. Then you can get back to watching Fluffy go wild.

Second Life: 'Killer app' or distraction?

There's a lot of buzz about creating virtual campuses on Second Life, but what are the practical uses?
East Carolina University is using its virtual campus to teach 10 courses this semester, as well as host a career services center.
WSU's Second Life campus is here. And a video interview with the students who created it is here. DDP doesn't offer courses on Second Life, not yet at least.

Would you like to take a course in Second Life? Do you think it's the wave of the future, or a passing fad?

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

WSU honored for tech achievement

Washington State University’s commitment to technological innovation and distance learning has been recognized by the National University Telecommunications Network, which presented WSU with its 2009 Institution Achievement Award.
NUTN represents more than 60 institutions of higher education. It consists of professionals who manage telecommunications networks, with emphasis on distance learning and videoconferencing.
This is the first year NUTN has given the Institution Achievement Award. The competition was “rather fierce,” said Dr. Mel Muchnik, chair of the NUTN 2009 Awards Committee. WSU was chosen because of its commitment to distance learning, he said, as well as its “long-term involvement in a variety of technologies.”
“I was elated when I heard the news,” said Muriel Oaks, dean of the Center for Distance and Professional Education, which includes Distance Degree Programs. “In the 1980s, WSU went out on a limb as it found new ways to reach students. Now those innovative ideas have become templates for other universities.”

New exam site. The WSU Extension office in Chehalis, Washington, is now offering a free proctored exam service. To find out more, or to see a list of other free proctoring sites, go to our Web page. For general information about proctored exams, click here.

Story in the Kitsap Sun. Kitsap Sun article discusses how Olympic College students can get an online degree from WSU. For information about other community college co-admit programs, go here.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Photo contest

Sunflower photo is from
2008-2009 calendar.

Photographers, here's your chance to shine. The student government is holding a photo contest, with the winners to appear in the 2009-2010 ASWSU-DDP calendar. The top pick will get the cover spot.
The rules are simple. The photos have to be in high-resolution in order to reproduce well. So be sure your camera is set correctly. Then e-mail your photos to Heidi. The deadline is May 25.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Getting the word out

DDP Program Representative Rich Miller talks to a prospective student at the April 11 Pah-Loots-Pu Powwow in Pullman. For more photos, click here.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

DDP student wins top award

Poris receives her award in Boston. She is flanked by DDP's academic programs director, Janet Kendall, far left, and CDPE Dean Muriel Oaks.

Distance Degree Programs student Debby Poris has been named the Outstanding Non-traditional Student of the Year by the University Continuing Education Association.
"Debby is the third WSU-DDP student to win the award in the last 10 years, which underlines the strength of our program and its students,” said Muriel Oaks, dean of the Center for Distance and Professional Education. “It’s a real honor for Debby and for WSU."
The national winner is chosen from among six regional winners. Judging criteria include an “unconventional educational background,” the handling of multiple commitments during the pursuit of a degree, and the nominee’s ability to inspire others. Poris, 54, will receive the award at the UCEA’s April conference in Boston.
Poris got the news on Jan. 16. “I felt like I was walking on cloud nine,” said the Lynnwood, Washington, resident.
A business major, Poris maintains a 3.97 grade-point average, works full time as a fiscal analyst for the state Housing Finance Commission, and is president of the DDP’s student government.
Poris says her determination dates back to her childhood when she wore a back brace for scoliosis. “I was out to prove to everyone I was not ‘handicapped,’” she said. “I snow-skied, played basketball, tennis and volleyball in my brace.”
She noted that the awards banquet was being held at the same time as a student government meeting, her husband’s annual employee dinner and a proctored exam. “Just another day in the life of a non-traditional student,” Poris said.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

More colleges join co-admit program

Two more community colleges have joined Distance Degree Programs’ co-admission program. Olympic and Pierce community colleges, both on the West Side, join five other colleges in the program: Bellevue College, Edmonds Community College, North Seattle Community College, Spokane Community College, and Spokane Falls Community College. More...The co-admit program began in spring 2007 and has about 30 students.Co-admit students are accepted to WSU’s online degree program if they complete an associate’s degree that meets WSU transfer prerequisites.“We hope to continue expanding our partnerships with community colleges,” said senior DDP Program Representative Thomas Wilson. “Co-admission moves students closer to a four-year degree.”For more information on the program, go to