Category Archives: Student Affairs Tech

ACPA/NASPA Technology Competency for Professional Development

The  technology competency in the latest ACPA/NASPA Technology Competency (2015) and the corresponding rubric provide student affairs practitioners and administrators guidance on how to effectively learn and apply technology in their roles as educators and programmers for student success. In addition, the two documents are also useful to the same groups when it comes to self-directed and formal professional development.

In my role as student affairs IT director, educator, and student affairs administrator, I was very interested with the technology competency when it became available and how it could be applied to my organization and for my personal learning. I’ve offered my thoughts in this blog post.

I found the competency and the rubric to be useful for the following reasons:

1) I’m able to identify areas I need to pursue. For example, most of my experiential learning and training have been mostly on “technical tools and software” and “data use and compliance” so when I planned my schedule for the NASPA national conference in San Antonio next week (March 10-15), I purposely planned my schedule to attend sessions on “digital identity and citizenship” and “online learning environments”.

2) As I defined areas I need further development, I began to explore other methods of learning. For example, most of my education when it comes to technology the last three years have been through my job and also through kindle books. This year, I discovered videos and I have completed seven courses in data governance and security.

3) The techniques and mindset I have developed through the technology competency have also led me to applying them in other development areas beyond technology. Just recently, I completed a 10 course series on people management certification via the University of California online learning system.

4) Given the lessons learned from my experience in applying the competency and rubric, I am in the process of developing a training curriculum for our division of student affairs based on the competency and rubric with the support of our Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs.  My hope is that by next year’s NASPA conference, we would have implemented the curriculum and present our experience so other student affairs practitioners and administrators may consider using the competency for theirs institutions as well.

Dr. Josie Ahlquist, and I presented via webinar (Infusing The New Student Affairs Technology Competency Into Practice) last month, on how the competency could be applied in graduate programs, student affairs organizations, and for professional development. Part of the presentation focused on the use of the competency for professional development. I offered how I have used and how I plan on using the competency and the rubric to guide my learning. Using Excel, I created a template that lists learning activities, when I would pursue them, the format, and which areas of the technology competency rubrics these activities fulfill. The template also provides a link to the rubric.

Attached is the Excel file I developed and please feel free to modify them for your use. Click on the image to download the file.


I look forward to how other institutions and student affairs professionals apply the competency and rubric. If you or your institution have used these tools, I would love to learn more about them.

Student Affairs Org Technology Leadership Competencies – MindMap

What are the competencies required to be an effective student affairs technology leader at an organizational level? This is a question I pondered while reviewing the Technology Competency Area within the ACPA/NASPA Professional Competency Area for Student Affairs Educators. I specifically mentioned “at an organizational level” because managing/leading the appropriate/effective use of technology at the divisional level is different from one who is leading the efforts at the national or individual levels. There are competencies required to running effective organizations and coordinating technology use at the divisional level. So, I combined the outcomes as defined within the Technology Competency Area and my experience leading a student affairs IT department and produced the mind map of what I view as competencies required to be an effective student affairs technology leader at an organizational level.


What other competencies should be included? Thanks!


Thoughts on ACPA/NASPA Technology Competency Area

It seems every time I review the technology competency area, one of the newest areas in the ACPA/NASPA Professional Areas for Student Affairs Educators, I develop a greater appreciation of the efforts and thoughts that went into defining the competency and the outcomes. As an advocate for effective use of technology for student development, learning, and success, I have high hopes that the technology competency area will have significant impact in shaping how we, as student affairs educators, will adopt, utilize, and assess/evaluate technology within student affairs now and in the future. At the same time, I have this sense of worry that while the technology competency area finally exists, we actually don’t know what to do with it. I don’t want them to be just words on some document that folks will look at once and forget they even exist. In a way, it’s ironic, maybe this isn’t the right word, that while technology is an essential part of student affairs, it’s still being treated like an add-on responsibility and qualification. Just recently, I reviewed several job posting for Senior Student Affairs Officers (SSAO) positions on and found that only 1 out of the 21 job postings I reviewed even had the word “technology” in the responsibilities and qualifications sections.

While reviewing the technology competency area and the outcomes once again this evening, some thoughts and questions came to mind as to how we can make effective use of the technology competency as listed below.

  • Development of the different components of the technology competency requires continual learning and application. Training alone is not enough. Student affairs professionals must have the opportunities to apply and develop the competency in our daily work.
  • No single person has all the skills and knowledge of all components of the competency (theories, technology, practice) so partnership with campus colleagues (scholars, practitioners, IT professionals) must happen for professional development and collaboration opportunities to develop the outcomes.
  • Senior Student Affairs Administrators (SSAOs) must embrace and promote the ideologies and concepts behind the technology competency and therefore, they must commit resources for staff and their organization to develop the competency. They themselves need to model effective use of technology.
  • Stop talking about the competency and start practicing the outcomes.


  • How do as we as a profession in general, and at the national and campus levels effectively promote the technology competency?
  • How do we assess and evaluate the level of technology competency? What common tools would be required to do this? How do we perform formative and summative assessments?
  • How do we promote the technology competency and show relevance to daily work?
  • How can we integrate the technology competency in the daily work of student affairs professionals so they’re not just additional things to learn?
  • Who will be the leaders/educators promoting these competencies and how will they themselves gain the skills/knowledge to be able to teach these competencies? Are their professors at SAHE graduate programs who have these skills/knowledge/background? Are technology courses even part of core courses in SAHE graduate programs?

What are your thoughts on the ideas and questions I posed above? How about the technology competency in general? What are you doing personally to develop the outcomes for the technology competency?

Some Random Thoughts About “Student Affairs Platform”

I was reading Eric Stoller’s post about Connecting Technology Buckets in Student Affairs and it reminded me of some random thoughts I had a couple of months ago about what  a “student affairs platform” would look like. I use an iOS mindmapping mobile app called iThoughts to document my ideas and below is a pdf with my random/not-so-complete thoughts on what would be included in such a comprehensive/integrated platform. I would love to read your thoughts on this topic.

Student Affairs Platform

Student Affairs Platform

Disrupting My Own Thinking

I don’t know about you, but I’m so busy at work just trying to keep up with what we need to build and maintain existing systems for our customers, it’s hard to see what’s coming ahead even a year ahead of us. Projects I work on take months, even a couple of years to build and I’m working on many of them at a time. I’m very busy managing. I think this is the issue posed by Clayton Christensen about disruptive innovation. Organizations miss emerging technologies/opportunities beyond their horizon because they’re too busy trying to meet the demands of their current customers. I can definitely relate to this.

If I don’t read books, blog posts, tweets, collaborate with folks outside work, I don’t think I would  even know about the larger issues and trends impacting higher education like MOOC, online learning, and student financial debt crisis. I work to satisfy the needs of our university students and our customers  but I read/communicate outside my university work to keep up with larger issues.

In a way, my interactions/experience with my personal learning network (PLN) which consists of higher education professionals and those outside higher education are what I use to disrupt my day-to-day, localized thinking. There are many ideas, programs I would like to implement at work but the reality is that I first need to satisfy what our customers demand and need. Does that mean I don’t think about new ways to meeting these demands? I absolutely think about new/improved ways, but they cannot be disruptive to a point where what I do severely impacts how they serve their customers in the process. They are incremental improvements. I believe in the idea of learning through failing, but “failures” do cost resources and money so when we implement or try new programs, we better start out with some thoughtful approach and define what we need to accomplish, we just can’t be trying new things just for the sake of experimenting. After all, our salaries and resources we use come from students and their families.

So, I go back to the idea of using my PLN and my experience outside my work to explore new ideas, to dream beyond possibilities, and to disrupt my own thinking. I was in with a twitter conversation about technology and graduate programs earlier tonight that got me thinking about the future of student affairs profession. I write this post, I am looking at my Pebble smart watch and waiting for my invite for a Google Glass. I’m thinking about buying this Estimote Beacon and combine it with Leap Motion to experiment with the idea of geo-fencing in my home. These are wearable and sensor technologies that I can’t see us using at work anytime soon (though I think they’ll be as common as smart phones the way it is now). But, it does not mean I can’t dream about what it may be like a few years from now either and imagine a campus so different from what I see now.