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Setting Email Triggers for Qualtrics Online Surveys

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By in Tools, Uncategorized on .

Qualtrics, as an online survey tool, is useful for creating a survey link that you may post to a website.  We often set up those web links for students to submit requests for assistance or information.  An easy way to know that a student has submitted a survey is to set up an email trigger for the survey within Qualtrics.  Instead of logging into Qualtrics to check your responses, you will get an email with the response data in it each time a student submits the form or survey. If you prefer to see your data in the normal reporting views within Qualtrics, it will collectively be there as well.  Another advantage to the email triggers, is that the email allows you to retain a copy per submission for a student’s individual file.  Requests for accommodations is one use case that comes to mind.

Let’s look at how to set up an email trigger.

  • Go to the Edit Survey view.
  • Click in the upper right on your Advanced Options menu button (shown below).
  • Select Triggers, then Email Triggers.
Advanced Options, then Triggers, then Email Trigger

Advanced Options Menu in the Edit Survey page4.

  • The email form appears with your email address in the TO box.  You may change that if needed.
  • You may add a FROM name or a default Qualtrics one will be used.
  • Defaults for “Send Immediately” and “Include Response Report” are already selected.
  • If you would like to add “Show Full Question Text”, you may select that as well.
  • Click the “Save Triggers” button in the bottom right.

Additional information on Qualtrics triggers may be found at this website, http://www.qualtrics.com/university/researchsuite/advanced-building/advanced-options-drop-down/email-triggers/

Accessibility and Usability of Web Application Interfaces


By in Accessibility on .

Recently I have been working with two systems that allow a user to create, store, and share documents over the internet.  In general terms both of these applications are “accessible”; however, there are some noticeable differences in the usability of the interfaces.  The point of this article is to discuss the differences between usability and accessibility of web applications.  I do not want to dump on any specific application so I will not use names for the article.  Application A is the system I have been using for longer and Application B is new to me.

The most obvious area of difference between the two applications is in navigation of the interface.  Both applications have access keys assigned to various controls in the interface.  The idea of these controls is to make it easy to move around the interface.  The challenge with this approach is due to the way these access keys are implemented in the real world.  Screen readers and screen enlargers have many hotkeys that are used to move around the operating system and sometimes to navigate specific applications, such as web browsers.  The problem for the creator of access keys is that each screen reader or screen enlarger manufacturer uses a different set of hotkeys.  Unless there are very few defined hotkeys there is a good possibility that the assistive technology and some of the access keys will conflict.  Most screen readers and screen enlargers have some sort of a “pass through” keystroke so it is usually possible to still use access keys.  The challenge is for the user to remember the hotkeys for the screen reader and screen enlarger along with the hotkeys.  The challenge is compounded if the user uses more than one screen reader or screen enlarger.  For example: I use one primary screen reader at work.  Due to cost I use a different screen reader at home.  I occasionally use a Macintosh, which has a different screen reader.  I use my iPhone for interacting with these web pages as well.  The Mac and the iPhone screen readers are similar; but, not identical.  I also use a screen enlarger program.  Each one of these assistive technologies uses a different set of hotkeys and each has different access keys it conflicts with.  Firefox also adds a Shift to the access key to try to avoid conflicts.  The idea is a wonderful idea; however,  the new access keystrokes still can conflict with the assistive technology.  They just conflict with different hotkeys.  Usually I don’t use the access keys and I fervently hope the access key does not accidently get activated when I am trying to interact with the assistive technology.

Application A uses headings to separate different areas of the interface.   This is much easier to navigate.  All that is needed is a knowledge of how to navigate by heading for the screen reader or screen enlarger that is being used.  There won’t be any key sequence conflicts.  Application B does not have headings built into the interface.  The user must either remember the access keys or tab around the interface.  Eventually I will probably work enough with Application B to figure out the access keys; however, I would probably not bother except I need to use this system to access some documents.

Another challenge that seems to be a  frequent issue with web applications is the use of form elements.  Both application A and Application B have some issues with this.  Application A seems to have fewer issues.  The issue is mainly that some controls that are logically grouped together are not the same type of element.  For example, a page might have controls for “Save Draft”, “Preview”, and “Publish.”  The “Save Draft” and “preview” buttons might be form buttons.  The “publish” control might be a link with a background image.  Usually this seems to be a method to make the more important control stand out from the other options.  Users of assistive technologies frequently have to know what type of element they are looking for to more easily find it.  The “Save Draft” and “preview” buttons will show a list of form elements.  the “Publish” link would show on a list of links.  All of the controls might be accessible; however, the logic of the controls grouping is lost due to the way the controls are implemented.

Tables can be a great help and also cause accessibility issues, depending on how they are implemented.  Some information such as web-based file management can work very well in tabular form.  Usually the left column contains checkboxes for multi-select operations.  The second column contains filenames, web page names, survey names etc.  The remaining columns usually contain information on the item in the second column and sometimes links or buttons that can be used to operate on the item such as Edit or Delete.  If this type of table is coded with the correct row and column designated as headers the table is easily used and accessible.  This example is an occasion where the column header is not the left-most column so the assistive technology would guess incorrectly if the header is not explicitly defined.

These are a few usability considerations for web-based application interfaces.  In general terms it is much easier for the user with a disability to use the web-based application if the features and controls for the application are similar to standard HTML controls.  In some cases the look and feel of the application might change since fancy widgets might not be easily implemented.  On the other hand the point of having the application is for it to be used and useful.

Making Arrangements for the (Digital) Afterlife

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By in Musings on Technology, Security on .

East Prussian war graveMost people I know conduct their lives half on- and half-offline.  I’ve gotten used to leaving little digital breadcrumbs (or is ‘droppings’ a more apt metaphor?) wherever I go.  I make sure my computer is as secure as possible and then just let it fly: shopping?  purchase online.  Need to transfer money to savings – online is much easier than a visit to the bank.  What movies are on?  go to the local cinema website (and buy tickets while I’m there).  Who was that guy in that movie that one time … you know, the one who married that blonde woman we like?…a Google search or two and I’m there.

I’ve kept a journal since 1999, when I realized that keeping it on a computer made it a lot easier – I’m a fast typist – and more fun, what with being able to add graphics and other goodies from the web.  I’ve moved it from computer to computer through the years and now have it backed up on Dropbox, for safe measure (it’s several hundred pages by this time – probably should consider beginning a Volume Two).

If I should meet with an unfortunate accident, what happens to all of these digital bits of information?

As far as the journal goes, there is some pretty candid stuff in there I wouldn’t want to be out in the world.  However, I don’t like the idea at all that it will just be erased and no one else will ever read it.  Don’t get me wrong – I have written everything in there under the premise that no one would ever see it.  Otherwise, it’s difficult to be honest (and you lose much of the value of journaling if you’re writing to an audience).  Wanting someone else to read it after I’m dead may be pride or ego, I don’t know.   I think it’s more accurate to say that I find it comforting to think that after I’m gone, someone (probably my daughter) will be able to really know me, warts and all.    There’s some pride involved too, I’m sure, because, well, I think there’s some good writing in there that I want someone else to appreciate.

Not much conscious thought goes into the other digital assets, information or trail I leave wherever I go.  It would probably occur to many of us to be concerned about what happens to the files on our home  computer if we want to sell or donate it.  We would delete them or reformat/repartition the hard drive, though apparently the files would still be there.  It’s pert near impossible to delete them permanently.  While other applications can get closer to permanent deletion, nothing short of burning or melting the hard drives will absolutely, permanently delete the files.

Our own personal devices certainly present one version of this problem –  in the case of my own electronic journal, if I die, how do I control who gets it, or if anyone does?  The issue is much more complicated nowadays, now that so much of our digital information floats around in webs and clouds.

Enter the forward-thinking folks at Legacy Locker.

For $29.99 a year, you can ‘deposit’ your digital information with them.  These can be email accounts, accounts on websites such as Facebook of Flickr – anything online that requires a login.  You can also deposit digital copies of important documents, such as contracts, wills, and stock certificates.  If you become incapacitated or die, someone lets Legacy Locker know.  They then contact two people who you have named as “verifiers” for confirmation and verify again by requiring a death certificate.  Then they’ll release your assets to your digital beneficiaries.  They provide the flexibility of allowing you to name a separate beneficiary for each digital asset.  Since the company launched last April, 3,000 users have signed up (though none have died yet).

lockLegacy Locker is not the only company breaking ground in the area of afterlife digital assets management.  There are also Entrustet and Asset Lock.  It’s a strange new world, where online accounts and content that you want to bequeath to someone are in essence intangible.   Because there is currently no regulation of our online presence, unless we make other provision, access to online bank accounts, treasured family photos, and electronic files are simply lost forever.   Online operators can maintain that such content belongs to them, if they want; even if they don’t want, there is no provision for making it available to a ‘next of kin’.

There are many uncertainties: how do you ensure you’re dealing with a reputable company?  how can you be sure that the information is secure?  after all, they will be holding everything that is digitally valuable to you.  And what happens to your assets if the company dies before you do?

It’s a new field, but I can foresee a time when having this type of service tied to your digital assets will be as common as as a flash drive, taking its rightful and necessary place alongside online file backup services.

See also:  7 Resources for Handling Digital Life after Death

Writer: Donalee Attardo, director of instructional development, Academic Technologies, ITaP

When Pearls Hold Your Web Pages

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By in Content Development, Tools on .

Collecting web pagesMost of us surf the web with purpose. One of the usual tasks we go about doing when researching the vast information resources that the web provides, is saving bookmarks in hopes to preserve these great resources and to get back to them later, or share them with others.  A young French company by the name of Pealtrees with over 2 million dollars in seed capital has an excellent collaborative bookmark platform.  Pearltrees makes the social web bookmarking experience almost feel game-like and highly visual when it comes to organizing the resources. The idea is that a graphic representation of pearl holds information about a webpage and allows you to share this information with others via link or your favorite social networking tools.

User collecting pearltrees - cartoonThere is also a group collaboration feature of collecting, or “curating” resources that can be very beneficial when researching topics of interest.   Groups of web resources or “pearltrees” can be found using a simple search or by related topic or popular topics, enough familiarity in search functionality to make the system easy to navigate and get used to.  When a collection of resources from a user or a user’s pearltree that you think it would be helpful to add to your own is found, you simply visually drag and drop the “pearltree” or individual “pearl” into your drop zone, and then add it and organize it into your pearltree however you see fit.  Once you have curated a nice group of resources using pearltrees, you could easily export them into a resource description framework format, or RDF.

I generally like the concept of collecting web resources using pearltrees, although I’m not convinced that it will be my web bookmarking tool of choice all the time.  Nevertheless, I can see using pearltrees for resources that I would like to share with others by embedding in a course or blog page.