Technology has really taken the student affairs division by storm over the past few years. As a graduate hall director at Old Dominion University in 2008-2009, we were starting to venture into how we could begin to implement new strategies to reach out to our residential community, in particular, an apartment complex community where we were doing more of a focus on independent living. This conversation was new and taboo to me even as a recent undergrad graduate in 2007.
Over the past two years, in my opinion, technology has not just boomed…but it has literally blown up! Everything has now become very easy to access, and information able to be shared within minutes…and all from within the palm of your hand! With the continuous improvements to Apple products, we have seen the basic Ipod, become the Iphone, Ipod Touch and now Ipad; not to mention the fact that Google jumped on board with the Android market; and both of these platforms providing a plethora of applications that can pay for your daily Starbucks coffee, and track how many calories you burned in your daily run; all while playing your favorite song or movie and talking to your best friend in England on Skype.
It can be suggested that this new society is creating a new challenge for higher education professionals to be able to figure out how we can accurately catch the eye of our students to get them to attend programs or other events on our campus. Last year, I actually had the opportunity to sit in on a conversation on how we could develop a mobile application that could be used in our specific dining hall so that students would be able to plan out their meals! Needless to say, the traditional way of using pen and paper to write down your caloric intake is as old as 2009.
While there is no direct solution to solving how we as Student Affairs professionals can keep up with all of the technology, there are some tidbits that I would like to share with you all out there!
Become Familiar– Similar to Krista, I signed up for Twitter when it first came out, and thought that like every other technological fad that this would come and go like MySpace. However, as it caught on, and as students of mine embraced it, I also found myself not knowing what or how to “tweet”. So, to assist me with this, I summoned the assistance of my students. Even if you don’t want to utilize the technology, it helps to know what is out there; and to think of ways that it would be useful to assist with getting information out there to your students.
Explore the Technology-While I didn’t think that my lessons on how to tweet would be useful, I later found out that I would be utilizing it in my first professional position here at The College of New Jersey, as we implemented not only a Blog, but also a Facebook Fan Page and of course a Twitter account. Over the course of utilizing this information, we have seen that we are able to go green as students are more likely to pay attention to the Social Media advertising than flyers posted! This is also a benefit as some students sync their phones to Facebook, therefore, when they accept an event request on their Facebook, it will also sync it to their phone and remind them of the event. Therefore helping get rid of the “I forgot about that program..and I really wanted to go” message!
Be Creative– This year, our training committee has been outstanding in implementing many training modules for our staff members. This has inspired me to also think outside the box, and am beginning to look and ponder on other ways that I can utilize virtual resources not only for my staff members, but also for my residents. For example, creating a Residence Director Virtual Bulletin Board, or a virtual programmatic initiative, where at the end residents would need d to come to my office to find out the results…therefore allowing me to meet the teams that participated, and allowing me to have conversations with them about their experiences.
Overall, I am very excited to see all of the possibilities that we come up with in our profession to assist in meeting the technological needs of our students. This is the one thing that will always keep us “young and hip”, as we will always be up to date with the newest crazes. I’m even more excited, because I just upgraded my personal phone from a Blackberry to an Android, and now I am beginning to see what my students have been talking about when they discuss all of their applications and such! Needless to say the technology bug has finally bit me as well!
Thanks for reading, and I look forward to seeing all of you at our upcoming socials!
Kyle R. Williams
The College of New Jersey