This post is about the role of social media, specifically twitter, in my professional development as a student affairs technologist. It is about how I have benefited greatly in the short amount of time I have been on twitter from the information I learned and professional connections I have made, resulting in opportunities I could not have imagined.
I envy those in student affairs who are able to attend annual professional conferences and other regional events/ trainings to network and learn about what other universities are doing. Personally, the closest I could be at these conferences are through twitter backchannels where attendees provide some glimpse of what’s going on, what issues are being discussed. This morning, I came across this article by Eric Stoller about alternative professional development on InsideHigherEd.com that talks about professional development opportunities in light of budget constraints. I am very familiar with the challenges of not being able to attend trainings and conferences. The last time I attended a week-long professional development conference was an Educause Institute Management Institute a few years ago (maybe 2007) . Because I have not been able to attend conferences/trainings, social media (including twitter), has been my primary tool for professional development.
I read a blog post recently advocating end-users to have full admin rights to their work computers and have the ability to install softwares for efficiency and productivity. I agree that end-users (of which I am also) need to be provided the tools required to do our jobs, which includes researching new technologies. These tools include the software we need installed on our desktop that may not be provided by IT. I hear and read frustrations from end-users who seem to constantly hear “no” from IT when a request for a software or service is requested. I feel the same way sometimes. However,those software on the desktop are useless when the network or some other critical services used by the entire organization (e.g. email, student information systems) are not available as a result of disruptions caused by malicious software. I will admit that there have been a couple of times when I have had to re-image my personal machine because of a virus that I had unknowingly downloaded from an infected site. My point in sharing my experience is that even the most careful end-user with the best intention can still introduce malicious code to the network. Continue reading →
When the US Ryder Cup won at Valhalla in 2008, many attributed the win to the energy of the new team members. The fact that some of the members never felt the experience of losing to the Europeans in previous Ryder Cup events, to some, also was a major factor in the US win. I have also heard from time to time how as we grow older, we seem to lose our sense of wonder, amazement at how the world works and we make things more complicated than things should be, maybe even more cynical. In some ways, I see this happening in the workplace. There is no question that a sense of perspective based on years of experience, institutional knowledge, provides a great compass in how we should move forward. It is through institutional knowledge that pitfalls can be avoided based on lessons learned from the past. However, solely relying on the past to guide any actions moving forward, when taken to extreme, stifles innovation.
Institutional support is necessary for social media to thrive in higher education. Individuals and grassroots efforts have opened the door for social media to be accepted at universities and have proven the values of it. To further the use of social media, institutional support is required for it to be embraced, to be sustained and to explore further uses. While the mention of policies and guidelines and even having committees that represent the different factions of the university including marketing, IT, legal, business unit reps could be seen as overly bureaucratic, it is my opinion, based on experience, that it is necessary for social media to be embraced as part of official university business. If a group, representing the different functions of your organization, does not clearly define the use and boundaries of social media, some individual(s) will improperly define it for the organization based on limited and biased perspectives.