The Future of Tech in Student Affairs

by Kristen Abell

Last week I gave my first keynote at the #SAtechKC Unconference, and one of the things I focused on was the future of technology in student affairs. I thought I’d share a few of those thoughts here, as well as feedback I got from others online.

In addition to my own thoughts, I sent a couple queries out into the interwebs to see what other folks thought were trends for the future of tech in student affairs. On Twitter, people mostly focused on not using technological tools for the sake of using technology, providing service as well as engagement, and access to technology. When I sent it out on Facebook, I also received a few comments focusing mainly on mobile technology and tech as a professional competency for student affairs.

So after this oh-so-scientific research, I sat down to outline five trends that I believe to be worthy of mention when it comes to the future of technology and student affairs.

1. Mobile. Mobile, mobile, mobile – Yes, of course this came up on Facebook (I was a little surprised it didn’t come up on Twitter, to be honest). We’re already seeing how many more people are accessing technology and the web through mobile devices – this is only going to increase. So how are we working to meet students where they are at? Are our sites mobile; do we have apps; are we comfortable with social media sites that already have mobile apps?

2. Accessibility – This one is a bit of a “duh.” This is already an issue, and it will only continue to be more so as we move forward with living more of our lives online. This isn’t just about meeting accessibility standards but also about being accessible to our students online.

3. Digital Identity – The digital footprint we have today is larger than ever before, and the implications for this are huge. What baggage will our students be bringing with them to college when it comes to their self-perception? And even for us, this is becoming a vital part of our self-development. How many parents out there just know they are the worst parents ever because every other parent has such great kids on Facebook, for example? We are going to be dealing with an entire generation of students who have lived their lives online, as well as many who have at least partial online lives.

4. Communications – We have to stop looking at social media as technology and considering the greater role it plays in our communication efforts with students. We must create overall communications plans for how we’re going to reach out to and engage students. We also need to examine how we’re using technological communications tools to engage our students in the classroom, as well.

5. Technology as a professional competency for student affairs – This is one that gained some support on Facebook, and with good reason. We can no longer consider technological skill sets as part of the “other duties as assigned,” or as something we can foist off on an intern or other student worker. This needs to be something that every student affairs professional has some knowledge of and can practice.

Most importantly, we in student affairs must make the leap into technology, or we can no longer be the experts about student affairs. Our students are there, and it’s time for us to be, too.

What trends do you predict for the future of technology in student affairs?

The Future of Tech in Student Affairs

2 thoughts on “The Future of Tech in Student Affairs

  1. Jeannette Passmore says:

    I was glad to hear the event went well! I never had a doubt knowing how talented you are.

    From a Community College perspective, and knowing that I am a huge technophile, I think access needs to be addressed more broadly. We think of students as having 24/7 access, and the knowledge of how to use all these tools we get so excited about. However, I can say that a fair number of students that I work with do not have access at home, or on a mobile device. At least not in the ubiquitous way that we think they do. With the lack of access, either current or in their past, comes a lack of skills.

    I love technology and it would be interesting to work with students who want to engage via Facebook, Twitter, and Skype or Google. Until all students have the same access I need to be aware of how these tech tools are broadening the gap between the ‘haves’ and the ‘have nots’.

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    1. Excellent points, Jeannette – thanks for sharing. I didn’t touch on it much here, but we did discuss access to technology a bit while discussing the current state of affairs. I agree that until all of our students have this access, we have to continue to find ways to engage and share with our students beyond just the technological realm. Thank you again for commenting!

      Like

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