This post is a call to action for all Student Affairs administrators in Higher Education As 2013 approaches, can we all agree that technology (its uses, application and function) are core to our work in some way, shape or form? While I am currently writing a follow up post to my original “Student Affairs Social Media Plan”, I think its time we expanded the paradigm and look at technology as the overall arching umbrella, with Social Media being part of the equation. Today’s post are recommendations on how I would (and currently do) tackle technology in my daily work in Higher Education and how you can make in immediate impact in your respective area.
The MACRO VIEW:
I. Form a “Student Affairs Technology Committee”
Encourage your Vice President for Student Affairs (or equivalent) to form this committee for your division. Heck, if you’re passionate about this work, offer to “Chair” it (with the permission of your direct supervisor of course.) Ask each Director in the Division to appoint one representative for their area, someone who either had good technology acumen already or someone passionate to learn more about it. Include students (both graduate and undergraduate) as you see fit!
There could be many purposes for this Committee’s formation, including, but not limited to:
- Monthly conversations: These should focus on finding out what each department was already doing regarding technology efforts to share tips, tricks, and ideas for future collaboration.
- Creating a Student Affairs Technology Education Series: These should be delivered both in-person and online. At first, focus on recording them so folks can watch them at a later time/date if they can’t make the live session. Eventually, live stream them over Google Plus or Ustream so someone could watch live from their desk as well.
- Assessment and Benchmarking Efforts: These should focus on what on-campus departments and off-campus peer-institutions do for technology implementation and/or education and perhaps implementing some of their best ideas.
- Formalizing and Building Strong Relationships with your University Information Technology and Institutional Communications Departments: This allows opportunity to find out on a University level what broader projects on the horizon that could have implications for your own departmental needs.
- Vetting All Divisional Information Technology Project Requests Through the Committee: This allows the group to be involved in the process to take 6 or 7 smaller project requests and submit them as one or two stronger proposals.
- Making Divisional Technology Recommendations: By meeting regularly, the committee could push forward to the VP recommendations for necessary resources, including equipment, software, dedicated employee hours (student, graduate student, or professional staff), or even new positions like a “Director of Student Affairs Technology.”
II. Establish Student Affairs Technology Goals
While we may articulate different reasons why we use technology in Student Affairs or Higher Education, I focus on the following three:
1. Increase Work Efficiency: How often do we (or our colleagues) use technology in an inefficient manner (e.g. meeting requests, databases, how to use twitter, etc.) We need to increase our technology acumen to find the most productive ways to use technology to become more efficient in our administrative work expectations.
2. Connect & Communicate With Broad University Community (especially STUDENTS): How do we use technology to share the best of our department’s work beyond a “Community Announcement,” list-serv email, or Facebook post? Are we using Social Media to connect with our university community or as a megaphone to promote our department events? We need to increase our technology acumen to understand how to effectively communicate our stories to the community and connect with students where they are.
3. Network, Learn, and Grow: How do we use technology beyond its’ “social” construct? Are we teaching our colleagues to expand this paradigm? As a Higher Educational professional, we need to be focused role models on how to use technology to professionally network, learn, and grow. While online media tools like Facebook and Twitter may be used socially, we need to be exploring how others are using it professionally and then teach this to our students as part of our co-curricular trainings.
The MICRO VIEW:
If the “Macro” view of the plan details resonated with you, here are some things you can do to get started:
1. As a Graduate Student or New Professional: Talk to your direct supervisor about one piece of the plan and get their approval. For example, if you are passionate about using Social Media to professionally connect and want to teach this topic, offer up your time to develop a workshop for students you directly work with. Invite your supervisor to it to get immediate feedback. If you get great feedback on the workshop content, you could then offer it for the Division on a broader scope.
2. As a Mid-Level Professional: Talk to your direct supervisor about your interest in exploring the creation of a Departmental Technology Committee and picking a few things from the list above as things the group could focus on. For example, in Student Activities department, the committee could form to talk about ways to use Event Management Technology better from tracking attendance through card swiping or doing online ticketing. After working with your I.T. department on the project(s), see where you found success. It may turn out that this work opens the door for a broader University approach to events that could positively affect more people.
3. As a Student Affairs Director: Talk to your Vice-President or Assistant Vice-President about your interest in forming a Divisional Technology Committee as outlined above. Whether it is you or someone else that chairs (or co-chairs) the committee, outline your goals in creating the committee and clearly outline how this work could not only help the division, but the entire University. You may or may not want to do everything at first, but find a starting point, find committee members, and get going!
4. As a Senior Student Affairs Officer: Form the Student Affairs Technology Committee yourself and charge them with the most important and pressing items needing attention. Connect with your Chief Information Officer also to see if any other similar committees have formed to see what they are up to. Include the Chair of your Technology Committee on all higher level University Information Technology conversations and committee so someone from Student Affairs (who is knowledgeable) is at the table.
I have had the pleasure of Chairing our division’s Technology Committee this semester and it has helped tremendously in moving technology projects forward and expanding our technology scope. While these are just some ideas, I‘m curious how many of you are dealing with technology education, implementation and innovation in your department or division.
Yes, I realize we are all busy. But, it is time to start including technology in a broader scale to our collective pedagogy to achieve our overall goals.