Category Archives: technology

social media and me

First of all, I am VERY excited to be participating in Binghamton University’s Social Media Week.  Props to the amazing Jennifer Keegin for putting this together.

Despite looking ahead to a very busy week (aren’t they all), I am really hoping to try and blog daily with the prompts.  Let the Social Media roller coaster begin!

Blog prompt #1: How does Social Media fit into your life?

My answer: almost everywhere!

If you go way back into my archives, you’ll see that I started this blog as a part of a social media and technology summer challenge at Coe College called the 13 things at Coe.  In technology world, that was forever ago (almost two years).  Here’s my post about how “web 2.0” fit into my life at the time: why web 2.0?  At the time, the extent of my social media presence was Facebook.  Thanks to that amazing project, though, I am much more comfortable in various different social media platforms.

A bit of my technology background first…
My first computer (and several after the first) was a DOS machine.  The Internet became more popular and more used at my school when I was in junior high.  I used to beg my parents to let us do the “free trials” that AOL offered for 20 days at a time.  This was old school dial-up, and for a long time, there wasn’t even a non-long-distance number for us to dial into.  So on top of tying up the phone line, we had to call long distance to get on the internet.  I was limited to 10 minute dosages.  By the time I was in high school, I feel like I was online all the time, though I don’t really remember what I spent all my time doing.  I was on ICQ (does anyone else remember that?), and spent time in chat rooms.  As a teenager, this was probably not uber safe, but I made it through okay.  Eventually, I spent a lot of time chatting with friends on AIM and continued that through college.   While in college, I took an education class that required me to create an online e-portfolio, where I learned some basic website creation and several other technologies.  I ended up being a graduate assistant in that same course while in graduate school.  Okay, you’re mostly caught up now.

Here’s a “renewed” web 2.0 checklist, with some background on how I learned about it and how I use it in my current life.  The order is significant only in that it is the order I discovered these technologies – not necessarily how important they are to me.

1. Facebook:
Facebook was introduced to The University of Iowa while I was in graduate school.  I remember being in the Educational Technology Center, where several of my classmates and I were supposed to be reading articles and working on papers, but were instead all goofing around online (sound familiar, anyone?).  A classmate told us that we needed to try out this new thing called Facebook, and that it would become our new favorite timesuck.  To say the least, he was right.  I love Facebook, despite all it’s issues.  I love that I can connect with people more easily, and more than anything else, see and share photos with friends and family.  I’m a photography nut, so I love the ease of sharing there.  Facebook was also my primary mode for communication (outside of email) with my former graduate school classmates and other student affairs professionals.  Now that I am engaged on other platforms, Facebook is primarily for my non-twitter friends (like my graduate school classmates) and family.

2. Blog (I’d link to it…but you’re already here):
As I mentioned above, I started this blog solely for the 13 things at Coe challenge.  I liked technology and they were offering a $25 gift card to the local coffee shop and a chance at an iPad.  I will do pretty much anything for a chance at an iPad.  Except, apparently, save money to buy one.  Anyway, the first of the 13 things was create a blog.  I was the only person in the challenge who used wordpress and I stand by that decision.  I still really love this platform.  As a former English major and an avid journaler,  blogging is right up my alley.  It fits my need to verbally process and just write.  Blogging makes me happy.  I struggled for awhile with “what should my blog be” and finally settled on “as long as I’m writing it, it’ll be my blog” and that’s been enough so far.  There’s nothing consistent, except that when I’m feeling challenged, wordy, or reflective, blog posts happen.  More than anything, since the 13 things ended, this blog has been for me.  I’ve been revamping it a little more recently to give my personal brand a little cleaner touch, but still, it’s mostly for me.  Nonetheless, I really appreciate readers and love folks who leave a comment.  Thanks for reading : )

3. Cloud Computing:
I’m not sure that this is necessarily social media, but I love Google apps.  I use Google docs daily at work, used them to help plan my wedding, and even to plan a rock-climbing trip.  Google Reader keeps it easy for me to keep up on colleagues’ blogs and what my favorite photographers are posting.  I love that I don’t have to go to fifty websites everyday or worry about missing something.  When I have a few minutes, I can open up reader, share things, and get my daily dose of reading.

4. Twitter:
I will be the first to admit that I did not enjoy Twitter at all when I first tried it out.  You can read more about that here.  After that, I left my account dormant for a long time.  I decided to give it a new try last year.  It lasted for a whole week or so.  When our department decided to start Tweeting, I thought I would dig back into my account.  I am so, so, so happy that I did.  I accidentally stumbled across an amazing hashtag and some great women.  I’m also connecting with even more student affairs professionals than ever before and feel like I’m constantly learning.  Twitter is probably the Social Media medium I use most – I check my hootsuite account pretty consistently.  I feel like it’s truly connective and conversational.  I also get a TON of information (in articles, etc.).  It fits me very well.  Though intimidating at first (think a chat room on crack), I am so grateful that I leaned into my discomfort and found my niche.

5. Delicious:
My inner nerd is very grateful for delicious, especially as I’ve gotten more into Twitter.  All my initial loves for this tool still exist, and now that I’m “favoriting” 20 tweets/articles a day, it’s very helpful in keeping everything organized so that I can go back to it when I need it.

6: Linked In:
As I mentioned in my original web 2.0 checklist, I have had a Linked In profile for a long time, but I’ve never really done much with it.  Honestly, though I have fully completed my profile and added a good chunk of professional colleagues, I still don’t actively “use” it.  I completed the profile as a part of my personal branding kick, but I don’t engage in conversation there.

7. Google+
I will be the first to admit that I don’t really use Google+…or at least not yet.  I have a profile.  Haven’t really done much with it.  There’s potential there, but most of my network is using other media, so I’m not doing much there, either.

Instagram also recently came to Android, so I’ve been enjoying sharing photos in a new way…though still on Facebook and Twitter.

Social Media has been a great connector in my life, especially as I moved and began a new job half-way across the country.  We’re in a strong relationship, and I can’t imagine life without it (even though my hubby might recommend a break on occasion).

Tweet ya later…ekt

 

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conferencing

There’s a lot to say about conferences and presenting, and a lot of great folks have already said a lot of it.  There was a recent twitter discussion that sparked a blog post, that sparked a ton of other blog posts (including this one).

Here was my initial response to Joe Ginese’s post calling student affairs professionals to do better with conferences (which you should read – right NOW…please):

Joe,

First of all, thank you for sharing the thoughts I’ve seen floating around twitter. I don’t think you are the only one who feels this way. I can only hope that these messages, and our repetition of them, can induce change in how conferences happen. Because WE are our organizations, it will take powerful voice to change, especially like this. And, last time I checked, I am not next year’s conference chair. There is so much wrapped up in what is the organizations perceived identity and tradition. I know it was a BIG deal for the Baltimore ACPA conference theme to vary from the “doing this. wanting those.” four word theme (B More in B’more).

I love your ideas and hope that we can see some change. I don’t know many professionals who wouldn’t JUMP FAST on that professional headshot. Seriously. How about instead of a coffee break (conveniently located in the exhibit hall), we have some great facilitators lined up to break out into conversations about a current news topic (like a mini-confab?). Let’s have more opportunities to talk about what’s “up” for us and connect to the challenges we’re pushing through, not just the “recycled ideas” we need to bring back to our campuses. Let’s not just wear hoodies to support Trayvon but dedicate some time to talking about how this impacts us, our students, and campus climate. Let’s have mini-meetups focused on current issues we’re facing. I don’t need another session on the seven ways you implemented x program on your campus, but let’s talk about learning outcomes and the need for assessment together. I don’t want to copy your program, but we can learn together. Let’s put some guiding “goal setting” questions up on the conference page so that people can come in with an intentional plan for learning and connecting – even if they don’t follow it. Let’s help each other learn how to use social media and some of the other technology out there – not present on how important it is, but really sit down together and learn HOW to use it. Let’s skip the wine and champagne and just sit down together. Let’s focus on growing and connecting. That’s the kind of conference I want to attend.

There another large piece of this that is ruminating for me, and it’s probably going to be a blog post, soon (more focused on our move toward credentialing, but the themes I’m struggling with are similar). The big annual conventions are typically cheaper than the institutes you mention at the end of your post. Many of those institutes run in the $600 – $700 range. Compared with $350, my funds will stretch much further at an annual convention. In addition, my institutions have been more likely to send me to an annual convention so that I can recruit/interview candidates. I’m also involved in a directorate, so in many ways, that makes my choice. I would love to be able to be involved at the national level – where I connect with amazing people, but also be able to attend an institute. But the real issue here is the money, right? Whether your institution is paying or you are paying, the money has to come from somewhere and we have to be able to afford it.

A lot of the post-ACPA blog posts I have read have focused on the connections people made at conference. The learning and growth was there, in the conversations and in the challenges from the people whom we trust. Not that we didn’t take some learning away from our programs, but it mostly came from the people.

Ed Cabellon made a great point (read the comments on Joe’s post – they’re worth it): conferences, especially national ones, are serving multiple “masters.”  Ed didn’t say it that way, but that’s the takeaway I got and what is sticking with me now.

My initial response to Ed included thanks for the reminder that although there is an amazing community of student affairs professionals (who I happen to follow and network with on Twitter), this voice is not the only voice, nor is it the most important (as much as we would love for that to be the case).  I value, at my core, the need for questioning and the call for change.  I consider myself an instigator – someone who is not okay with the status quo just because it is the “way we do things.”  That being said, I am also reminded that there are literally thousands of voices to honor and people to educate at a national conference.  That’s right –  thousands.  A huge part of me trusts the educator I have grown into when I say that we can do better with our presentations.  Another huge part of me recognizes that we must also acknowledge what we know about education and development, and that like our work with students, we have to meet our peers where they are, and walk with them.

A few of the “masters” a national conference must serve:

  • student affairs professionals of all levels of experience (1 – 50+ years)
  • graduate students
  • undergraduate students intending to enter the field
  • professors of graduate programs of study
  • researchers
  • practitioners
  • large universities
  • small private colleges
  • for-profit institutions
  • community colleges
  • international institutions
  • stated values of the association and field
  • stated professional competencies (and trying to meet them)
  • herding the cats that are volunteers – those people who do all the planning, program reading, and a ton of the other work that goes into the conference – people who do this in addition to their “real” job
  • commissions, standing committees, knowledge communities, and other “within association groups”
  • companies who pay to be in the marketplace
  • limits/opportunities of the city & conference center
  • $$$
  • networking needs/desires
  • competition with other professional associations and conferences (within and outside student affairs)
  • people. lots and lots of people. 
I know there are plenty more, but I hope this helps us gain perspective for why things aren’t different…yet.   And I have hope that with understanding, we can seek change.  And there are SO MANY absolutely wonderful ways in which we can do better.
There are a few main points that have come up as a part of this ongoing dialogue around conferences.  Here are the ones I have found are vital to our understanding if we want to impact change.  This is by no means an all-inclusive list.  It’s just what I have found to be important as I wrestle with how #wecandobetter.
  • Funding
    •  Who pays – institution or the individual
    • Why is the payment happening – for ideas, for personal development, for networking, etc.
    • What are the expected outcomes of said funding – is there something tangible that needs to be “brought back?”
  • Costs
    • Convention center and accouterments
    • Internet
    • Speakers
    • The non-volunteers
    • The physical needs (printers, curtains, etc.)
  • Learning Outcomes
    • Individual goals
    • Institutional goals
    • Commission/committee/community goals
    • Association goals
    • Oh wait, I said learning outcomes, not goals.  Well, learning the difference there is probably important.
  • Learning Styles
    • Different learning styles: visual – experiential, etc.
    • Different strengths: input, woo, etc.
    • Different personality types (preferences for walking in this world): MBTI types
  • What we know about learning (“good” practices)
    • experiential / active learning
    • communicating high expectations
    • creating safe & inclusive spaces
    • developmental stages
    • cognitive theory
  • What we “know” about good presentations (which have been hashed out in several other places)
  • Networking, Connecting and Relationship-Building
    • how do people connect?
    • natural & organized opportunities
    • opportunities to discuss “what’s up”
    • affirming current relationships & building new
    • what connections are most important?

If you’re anything like me, you might be feeling a bit overwhelmed right now.  Add to that the crews and crews of volunteers who turn over every year.  And the expectation (from whom?) that presenting is an important contribution to the association and one’s own professional development.

There’s a lot to muck through.  And yes, we can do better.  But like any change, this won’t happen overnight.  And we need to cross the metaphorical bridge and lead our peers to our side instead of shouting at them to hurry up and get here.

How will you cross the bridge today?

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unconventional leadership

Before ACPA even began, I was thinking critically about what kind of session I really wanted to attend.  Reading the Unconventional Leadership blog, considering Eric Stoller‘s prompts about radical practitioners, and conversing with several colleagues about what makes a worthwhile presentation.  I really want to believe that as student affairs educators, we know how to educate.  After all, that’s the argument I make when I am trying to validate that this is indeed a profession – I have a master’s degree – and I have a basic understanding of how college students learn.  Somehow we (yes, I am implicating myself here – guilty as charged) forget all of that when we step to the front of the room.  Perhaps it is because we are better one on one and the fear of being expected to be the expert pushes us into an anxiety ridden need to write everything down.  Maybe this is our first presentation at a conference and we really don’t know better.  Could be we have some ego and in order to get all the information across (and it’s the information that is most important), we have to talk at the audience the whole time.  In fact – we even acknowledge it (guilty again); “I know that this isn’t the best method, but I’m going to do it anyway.”  That exact sentiment is why I stopped pursuing secondary education as an undergraduate.  I was tired of being lectured at with the information that lecturing is the least effective means of learning.  That is ego at it’s best and ignores the most important reason we are together.  We are here to learn and when that is one sided, we are missing a great opportunity.  All of this swirling in my head made me want to be on the ACPA conference planning team, if only so that I could say, “hey, that is going to be another talking head” and “that person just wants to talk about a book they read in graduate school.”  There are amazing folks in our field who wrote those books, who have long-term perspective about their work.  Not to say that those right out of graduate school (or still in it) don’t have a lot to offer, because I think they are amazing.  But I think we can ask more of them.  Push them, and all of us, to be better at this.  We KNOW how to educate and help each other learn.  So let’s drop our egos and really get our hands dirty learning together.

Pseudo-rant over…back to ACPA.  I sought out sessions at convention for a number of reasons.  As several of my previous posts indicate, my inner octopus is wrangling how I walk in this world as a woman, so some of the sessions I attended were spurred by a desire to connect with women.  Others were people who I have been engaged by in the past and wanted to learn more from.  Others were Tweeps I wanted to meet and learn from in person.  Others wrote an interesting enough abstract that I was persuaded they were going to give me an active learning experience.  Most turned out successful.  One or two, not so much.  I heard panels of strong women talking about lifting one another up (woot! #wlsalt!), engaged in how values are communicated on my campus (drawing in session), and heard research turned into video.  Lots of different learning and all engaged me.  I am grateful I was able to be intentional about my conference sessions.  I’m sad I had to choose sometimes as I missed (what I assume from Twitter quotes) some great sessions.  And now I’m struggling on how to follow up and try to get materials and learning from those sessions – because if they really were that great, the learning was in the story – the live presentation, and that isn’t on a PowerPoint they can send me.  Maybe we need to start video-taping everything, TEDtalks style.  I’d watch that.  See more of the discourse around this conversation in the comments of Eric Stoller’s Inside Higher Ed post: “Conference Sessions Do Not Have to Suck.”  You’ll see my comments and what other folks in the field are feeling about this topic there.  In the meantime, I want to share how I can the learning that happened in person at the sessions I attended.  I used storify.com to create a “story” of the tweets from the Unconventional Leadership session by Patrick Love and Tony Doody from Rutgers.  I tried to “post” it into this post, but storify and wordpress disagree about the width of that content and it gets cut off.  So you’ll just have to open it in a new link.  Here it is.

I am hoping to somehow storify some of the other sessions I attended.  Unfortunately, some of them were in the depths of the conference center with no internet (and thus, no tweeting).  You can add text to storify, so I’ll play around with it and add my notes, maybe?

How are other people engaging in learning post-conference?  How did you choose your sessions? How will you share that learning with others? Do you intend to share only at your institution or with the broader student affairs audience? On twitter?

I’m an information hoarder, and proud of it (input strength). Share!

keep on learning…ekt

 

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#ACPA12 – the conference of redefinition

One of my strengths is input, and as you may have noticed, I am really enjoying the multiple ways in which Twitter has provided me the opportunity to expand my learning in all sorts of ways.  I’m learning about student affairs, social media & marketing, getting inspired about innovation & big ideas, and joining a network where I feel truly whole.  If you were me, you’d love this, too!  Enter the annual ACPA Convention.  I left New York feeling so excited for ACPA.  I was anxious to reach out and connect with new tweeps and for my amazing network to jump into action in “real life.”  I talked about it for days.  Tweetups were marked on my calendar.  This was going to be amazing!

And then it wasn’t.

First of all, let me say that this was no one’s “fault,” per se.  If there is anyone who owns responsibility for my in person tweetups not rocking, it is me.  Somehow, in all of my excitement, I managed to forget how introverted I really am and how much energy meeting new people takes from me.  Add that to a deluge of other energy drains on Saturday (interviewing for new jobs at C3, conducting interviews for my current institution, running 11 miles, and just plain missing my husband), and I was exhausted before I even started the conference.  On Sunday, I went into my directorate body meeting with a sense of utter fatigue only to realize I had some “stuff” churning inside me emotionally.  Oy.  My physical and mental weariness led way to my emotional decline and all of a sudden I was crying hard enough that I couldn’t stop the tears.  Now, don’t get me wrong – I’m totally a crier.  It’s often how I process.  But this — this was a very unexpected onslaught of sadness and anxiety.

In the past year, my relationships have changed a lot.  Getting married and moving across the country will do that to you.  Even before all that change, though, I had been focusing on becoming “whole.” You see, after a bad marriage (yup, I’m divorced) and a couple unhealthy relationships with no time on my own in between to heal, I needed some space to come into my own before I felt like I could truly be someone’s partner.  So I took that time.  And I became whole again.  While at ACPA, I realized I haven’t done that same intentional healing from those more recent relationship changes.  I left my family, two very dear friends, and my student affairs mentor behind in Iowa.  And while I truly enjoy my colleagues and have found comfort, support, and learning from them, I have not (yet?) developed the kind of deep & connected relationships I left behind.  Then again, I spent almost 30 years in Iowa, so 8 months isn’t really comparable.  Still, as I dealt with the changes in my friendships and support systems, changes that birthed holes of pain and hurt within me, I hid those holes deep within, where I wouldn’t have to deal with them.  Occasionally, a piece of that pain or hurt would bubble up, I would process it with my husband, pretend I resolved it, and push it back down.  This is not my usual coping method – I don’t often “bottle up” my emotions.  Yet, when it concerns my relationships with women, whether from long ago or more recent, that pain just stays with me.  Plus, I had Twitter and a whole world of social media to occupy my brain, temporarily calm the storm and help me ignore my heart.  Learning and engaging on Twitter was very low risk.  I felt very content with the relationships I was building online.

When I got to ACPA, a place that has always felt like home to me, I became very introspective.  I could no longer ignore the swirling chaos in my heart.  With the listening ear of an amazing woman, I gave voice to the chaos.  I found closure on some relationships, cracked open some doors I feared had forever closed with others, and strengthened my connection with some amazing women in my life.  Most of those processes occurred internally, though, and left very little emotional energy to engage in extroversion and new relationships. If I’m truthful, I know I have a lot more work to do to continue my healing before I am ready to build deep, lasting, trusting connections, particularly with other women.  ACPA and my work there brought me one step closer, though.  So, dearest tweeps, I look forward to continuing to learn from you and maybe next time around, we can truly connect.  In the interim, I’m going to seek places where I still need closure, seek support for the strength I need to be brave in the face of this pain and hurt, and try to give my heart the room to heal and begin again.  My “away” message: Seeking peace? Inquire within.

I am curious to hear about others’ conference tweetups experiences.  What does an authentic connection at a conference look like?  You’ve tweeted, maybe learned each other’s pedigrees, know some issues the other feels strongly about from a blog post or two, but how do you have that true and authentic connection? A small group within my directorate (all women) talked a lot about being introverted and the strains networking at conference creates.  Obviously, I related to that (have you been reading this post?).  Many of those women talked about how they get energy from those authentic connections, though.  We felt like sometimes, whether we are just nice and it’s what we’re supposed to do, but sometimes the “connecting” feels really fake.  Have you experienced that?  How did you handle it?  How do we, particularly the introverts among us, seek out those authentic connections among the fake “HI! So GREAT to meet YOU!s?

Thoughts and reflections welcome.  Let’s dialogue!

waiting for your comment, ekt.

This post also appears on The ACPA Unconference Blog: http://acpaunconference.wordpress.com/2012/03/31/acpa12-the-conference-of-redefinition/

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