From the President's Desk

BACKGROUND:

A Technology Advisory Committee and a Technology and Social Media Task Force1 have previously considered multimedia and information technology applications in ACPA and made recommendations. The goals and recommendations of these two groups were in close alignment and synergistic. A brief summary of their goals and recommendations are provided in the next four paragraphs. The Technology Advisory Committee, chaired by Gavin Henning, established three goals that were largely about improving the functionality and impact of ACPA as an association. 

  1. Maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of administrative (IO, Governing Board, Assembly, & all entity groups) functionality through the use of technology, 
  2. Maximize technology for communicating among members and within ACPA. 
  3. Create/maintain/improve information/knowledge systems. 

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The Social Media Task Force, comprised of Stanton Cheah, Reuban Dalke, Heather Shea Gasser, and Eric Stoller, identified three aspirational membership goals in developing a social media plan for ACPA. 

  1. Members would report more connection to each other, to ACPA leadership, and to the association. 
  2. Members would report being more informed about association news. 
  3. Members will remain engaged with ACPA as an organization on a consistent basis, not just around ACPA convention. 

The Social Media Task Force also recommended social media goals that contributed to the achievement of ACPA’s strategic goals. 

  1. Knowledge & Competencies: Utilize social media to disseminate our contributions to new research, theoretical understandings and competencies in the field of student affairs. 
  2. Career & Professional Development: Promote ongoing training, skill development, and continuing education via social media. 
  3. Recruitment & Retention: Utilize social media to establish and maintain long-term relationships with individuals and groups. 

In its final report, this task force made several recommendations to the Governing Board, including: 1) hiring a full-time social media manager in the International Office, 2) establishing a centralized registration process for creating/adding new social media channels, 3) setting clear expectations for leaders to use social media as a tool for connection and communication, 4) implementing a variety of social media applications at the annual convention, and 5) establishing a new commission for social media and technology. 

The actions recommended by the Technology Advisory Committee and Social Media Task Force have been implemented to varying degrees. Anecdotal evidence alone suggests our leaders and the general membership have positively received these changes. As an example, the excitement at the 2014 Annual Convention generated by enhanced social media and new forward-thinking, high-tech offerings resulted in over 45,000 tweets and more than 38,000,000 timeline deliveries. 

Rapidly advancing web and wireless technologies are creating new opportunities and challenges for higher education. To be effective in the 21st century, our profession needs to advance the use of digital technology applications in student affairs preparation and practice, including the utilization of digital technology as a pedagogical tool to foster student learning and engagement. This is an important strategic issue for ACPA. Previous efforts to expand the Association’s digital footprint have been focused primarily inward, and on communication, connectivity and program delivery. It is now time for ACPA to embrace an expanded vision for digital technology in the student affairs field. 

There are two types of conversations happening in contemporary student affairs circles around issues of digital technology. One conversation is geared toward teaching, learning and scholarship. The second conversation focuses on sociological dimensions, such as communication, connectivity, and identity. There are many self-proclaimed experts of digital technology in student affairs, but very few performing formal research on related issues and practices in higher education. A number of student affairs professionals are interested in and knowledgeable about technology topics and applications but are not engaged in traditional rigorous scholarship. This does not devalue the increased participation and contributions that technology has enabled, but it provides space and a need for evidence-based academic scholarship and research-informed practice. Moreover, there is no home of any kind for this type of scholarship within professional associations that serve the field of student affairs. 

It is important to acknowledge that the discourse in student affairs around digital technology issues is different from the conversations that are happening among presidents, provosts, deans, and faculty in 

higher education. Student affairs has been more focused on social media and, in particular, how to provide greater opportunities for communication and engagement. Others in higher education are discussing larger systemic challenges to traditional higher education paradigms including MOOCs, online and blended education program design and delivery, private partnerships, and issues of access and  degree attainment. There is an opportunity for our Association to offer a compelling vision on these issues, which could lead to new opportunities for diversifying revenue streams and partnerships. Most of higher education is focused on the extent to which digital technology can be used to enhance student knowledge acquisition, ensure greater access to educational opportunities, and develop cognitive and employable skills; however, student affairs may be uniquely positioned to assist students in utilizing digital technology as a tool for making a “secured life transition” from where they currently are to where they ultimately want to be in their lives (Station, 2013). In other words, we help students with a “personal transition” that is beyond knowledge and skills attainment. 

CHARGE: 

With the Governing Board’s approval, I am appointing a Presidential Task Force on Digital Technology in Student Affairs to develop a four-pronged approach for ACPA, with the primary objectives being to advance the application of digital technology in student affairs scholarship and practice and to further enhance ACPA’s digital stamp and its role as a leader in higher education in the information age. The task force, co-chaired by Tony Doody and Ed Cabellon, will be comprised of four working teams. The goal for the task force is to present a preliminary report at the 2015 Convention in Tampa and a final report at the 2015 June/July Leadership meeting. Each group should identify specific action steps and recommended timelines to achieve them. The following is a high-level summary of the work being assigned to the four groups.  

1 This task force completed its work in December 2010 and produced a report entitled ACPA Social Media Strategy & Recommendations. This is not the same task force that formed later with the intent to form a new Commission. 

Infographic Sources:

  1. 2013 E-Expectations Report: The Impact of Mobile Browsing on the College Search Process
  2. Cyberbullying Presence, Extent, and Forms in a Midwestern Post-secondary Institution
  3. ‘How do they even do that?’: How Today’s Technology is Shaping Tomorrow’s Students