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?