Reflections on #CCPA15 Spring Institute

This past weekend, I had the pleasure of attending and presenting at the California College Personnel Association (CCPA) Spring Institute.  You can catch social media highlights curated by the folks at CCPA in this Storify post.  I thought I’d share a couple of my takeaways:

Ascend to what end?

The conference theme was “Ascent: Climbing the Steps of Your Student Affairs Career,” which I found intriguing enough.  Then ACPA Vice President Donna Lee (@DeanDonnaLee) delivered a dynamic lunchtime keynote and brought the discourse to another level when she asked us, “Ascend to what end?”  In sharing some of her professional journey, she encouraged us to reflect on our paths, passions, and purposes.   She also mentioned that ascent doesn’t always mean up, which was a helpful reminder that a professional trajectory need not be a straight slope. Sometimes I feel myself getting caught up in the race to the top and comparing myself to other people.  Checking in with the question of “Ascend to what end?” reminded me to think about my values and to reflect on my journey with that lens.

Think local

If you are not a member of a local professional organization, I encourage you to find one and jump on board now!  Both ACPA and NASPA have regional versions of their national organizations, and many functionally-focused groups also have presence at state or regional levels.  Leadership opportunities abound at this level, and are an especially great entry point for graduate students and new professionals (plug for my CA friends – CCPA elections and appointed position applications are now open).  Professional development programs from these groups also tend to more accessible, both in terms of finances and logistics, as events are typically cheaper and closer than national ones.  And, of course, networking with local colleagues is fun and can be particularly useful for geographically-bound folks looking for jobs.

Gratitude

Shoutouts go to the CCPA Leadership Team and volunteers for putting on a great event, the California College of the Arts for hosting, all the engaging presenters and speakers, and the many enthusiastic participants.

Reflections on #CCPA15 Spring Institute

Technology vs. Customer Service

By Kathryn Magura

Forget the whole chicken vs. egg dilemma. The conundrum I face on a daily basis is balancing the conveniences technology provides with customer service standards that cannot be sustained.

What do I mean? Well, in my work we provide a lot of technological ways for students to connect with each other, our office, and request services. I love finding new and innovative ways to utilize technology to enhance the customer service on a college campus. In fact, that very sentence used to play a prominent role in my Twitter bio.

But what are the consequences for providing so many ways to utilize technology for customer service? A challenge I have found on a frequent basis is managing expectations when technology allows for the perception that things can be done with ease. For example, we allow new students to select their own rooms on campus – similar to how you select your seat on a plane. We have gone so far as to allow students to invite roommates into held rooms, and even change their selection multiple times. So what happens when our servers get overloaded with requests due to high volume of traffic? We get calls of complaints on how terrible our product is. I think the juxtaposition of customer service via technology follows a statistical bell curve of when the technology provided enhances the services provided, and when they are a detriment to it.

I also see this playing out in unrealistic expectations of response messages. I have had students email me at 8pm at night and then have a parent call me frustrated at 8am the next morning due to lack of response. How is it reasonable to think a request after standard business hours will or even should be addressed so quickly if it is not an emergency? I’ve seen this scenario get so bad for some colleagues that they feel the need to put an out of office message up from Friday at 5pm until Monday at 8am.

So how do we find the balance? An approach I take is through conversation. When our servers are overloaded and our product becomes slow, I explain to frustrated customers what is happening and why, and then I make a plan for improvement in the future. When someone is frustrated with the lack of response, I try to educate what a typical work shift is, and what our standard expectation of response is. Thankfully this seems to diffuse the situation in most cases. I also start asking the question of if the service that is currently providing more of a challenge than supplement to quality service is necessary. Do we need to provide this fancy and shiny technology piece if it ends up making our customers unhappy?

How do you find balance?

Technology vs. Customer Service

#HonoringWebFolk with shoutouts and thanks

By Rachel Luna

Inspired by a grassroots effort from author and web expert Molly E. Holzschlag (@mollydotcom), today is “Unsung Leaders of the Web Day” as folks are invited to shout out messages of thanks.

Who are the unsung leaders of the web in your community?

  • Was there a digital ambassador who helped you get on board with web technology?
  • Do you have a great IT support team?
  • How about an awesome content manager?
  • Can you send a virtual high-five to your favorite bloggers?
  • Who is that person in your life you can always go to with web tech questions?
  • Who do you count on to be the innovator and push the envelope of the web?

Check out the #HonoringWebFolk hashtag on Twitter and add your own acknowledgements.  Perhaps you can extend the spirit of this movement beyond social media and take the time to show these folks how much you appreciate them with a hand-written thank you card or even a face-to-face conversation.

#HonoringWebFolk with shoutouts and thanks

A Reflection on Authenticity

By Kathryn Magura

I talk a lot about authenticity. To me, a core tenant of a person’s integrity is reflected in their authenticity. Authenticity in who they are at home, at work, with friends, and most importantly when no one else is watching.

I am also a big fan of most social media platforms. I am frequently an early adopter for new social media options, and love being able to connect with people all over the world around common topics. That said, I think people quickly forget their authenticity when provided the opportunity to hide behind social media and the internet.

A few months ago I wrote about why I think Student Affairs professionals should care about Gamer Gate. There is sadly a lot of evidence on how women are treated deplorably online in ways men are not. Heck, the actress Ashley Judd made news recently about how her Twitter bullies had gotten so bad, she was seeking legal options.

Back in the world of Student Affairs, there was a lot of discussion last week, lead in part by this post by my co-editor Niki, about the dark side of Student Affairs professionals who hid behind the anonymity of the social media platform Yik Yak at the recent NASPA conference.

What is it about social media and the internet that allows people to think they can say what they want without consequences online? Where is intent vs. impact in the thought process? Would you say the things you say online (anonymous or not) to someone’s face?

Those who know me well have heard me say that I try to always be my authentic self online. If you look at my Twitter feed, or see what I post on Facebook or Instagram, you see the real me. If I ever feel that I am misrepresenting who I am as a person, I will part ways with that social media platform.

We talk a lot about digital identity and how your online presence follows you everywhere. How help people see that authenticity matters in the digital world too?

If you aren’t sure if you should post about that event, or make that comment about someone’s photo, try this tip I learned from my colleague in student conduct: Think about whether you would say those things if your grandmother was watching. If the answer is yes, proceed. If the answer is no… well, turn off the damn computer.

A Reflection on Authenticity

Perspectives on March Madness Bracketology

By Rachel Luna

NCAA basketball March Madness is upon us.  And that means even the casual fan becomes a bracketologist.  Whether you are a serious student of statistics like our friends at FiveThirtyEight, a prognosticator based on your psychic abilities, or you ascribe to my personal strategy of mascot prowess, there are many ways of approaching the tournament.

Check out a new perspective on the NCAA March Madness this year, like with this visual representation of the teams in a radial bracket.
Check out a new perspective on the NCAA March Madness this year, like with this visual representation of the teams in a radial bracket.

Atypical Basketball Brackets

A quick internet search will get you the NCAA men’s and women’s teams displayed in a traditional (read: boring) bracket.  Here are some more unique perspectives:

  • Radial bracket by @MykCrawford
    • I’m really digging this visual representation of a tournament bracket.  The artist has updated this site with odds from FiveThirtyEight, which you can see as you scroll over each team.
  • Accessible bracket via @terrillthompson
    • A great example of accessibility in practice, this site presents the standard NCAA bracket information in a clean and functional way using web tools and coding standards that make it more accessible for people “using non-visual interfaces such as screen readers and those who are physically unable to use a mouse.”
  • Emoji bracket via @WashingtonPost
    • This site features the emoji version of each school’s mascot, which you can also download and save to your device.
  • Academic performance bracket (women’s and men’s) via @InsideHigherEd
    • There’s a little more emphasis on the “student” part of “student-athlete” with this bracket, which picks winners in the men’s tournament based on academic performance indicators, such as the NCAA’s Academic Progress Rate (APR) and the Graduation Success Rate.
  • Tuition bracket (2014 version) via @Awl
    • This bracket breaks it down by dollars, looking at the cost of annual tuition at each competing institution.  The 2015 version of this hasn’t been published yet, but fingers crossed it will come soon.

Non-Basketball Brackets

Sports isn’t your thing?  No worries, here are some non-athletic brackets that might strike your fancy:

  • Female authors via @KristenAbell
    • Double high five to our friend Kristen for creating this bracket which supports both reading and women.  I for one can’t wait to see how it plays out.  Voting is live now!
  • March Magic bracket via @Disney
    • Disney fans on both US coasts face off in this second annual contest by voting for their favorite attractions in each park.

What’s your bracketology perspective?  Share your strategies and tips in the comments below or tweet me @RachelHLuna.

Perspectives on March Madness Bracketology

Celebrating International Women’s Day: Inspiration for #WomenTechmakers

by Jess Samuels

March is Women’s History Month and March 8th is International Women’s Day.  These serve as yearly reminders to honor women’s achievements and to continue to press forward in advocating for women’s rights.  A number of online campaigns have launched this year, including the #NotThere hashtag and video, raising awareness about gender inequality.  #NotThere is just one of many hashtags promoted for this important day.  Visit InternationalWomensDay.com to learn about the various campaigns and the 2015 theme “Make It Happen.”

Google promoted International Women’s Day through it’s search engine Doodle.  Doodles are a fun way for Google to raise awareness about topics, inventions or people deserving of recognition.  Unfortunately, SPARK recently documented that between 2010-2013, of the 445 people Google honored, only 17 percent were women.

Google is aware of the issue and promises to do better. Google Doodle team lead Ryan Germick reported to The Huffington Post,  “This year we’re hoping to have women and men equally represented. So far this year we’ve done Doodles for as many women as men, a big shift from figures below 20 percent in past years.”

womensday15-hr

Google is working on other ways to promote gender equality in technology, with it’s Women Techmakers global summits and meet ups throughout the month of March.  These events provide resources and visibility to women in technology. While unfortunately there is no meet up in my area this year (check their map to see if there is one in yours), I am marking my calendar to apply to attend the summit next year.  What a great opportunity to meet inspirational women in tech!

Another campaign Google/YouTube are promoting is the #DearMe videos.  They are asking women to tape themselves answering the question: “What advice would you give your younger self?”  These videos give inspiration to young women who may feel discouraged or filled with uncertainty.

What would I say to my younger self?

It’s okay to be a nerd and geek.  Embrace that identity because it will lead you to the places where you are most fulfilled.  Take it a step further and explore your creativity in technology.  Take classes in design, think about the communications field and explore your interests instead of feeling pressure to pick a major right away.  Find ways to practice what you love and you’ll get even better at it.  Find other people, other women, who have some of the same passions as you do and nurture that excitement.  Oh, and make sure to buy a Mac instead of a PC sophomore year of college 😉

Celebrating International Women’s Day: Inspiration for #WomenTechmakers

Retrospective Perspectives

By Kathryn Magura

Ever come up with a title for a blog post you like so much that you feel like maybe you should quit while you’re ahead? Yeah, me neither… Just kidding, I’m pretty proud of this one. But what the heck do I mean?

This week I’m working remotely (shout out to my awesome University for allowing me to do this. I know I am fortunate to have the ability to flex my time this way.) and taking care of my niece and nephew while my brother and sister-in-law get a well-deserved vacation. Before you send me an “Aunt of the Year” mug, I should be transparent by saying the prospect of spending so much time alone with my niece and nephew stressed me out big time.

Don’t get me wrong, I love my niece and nephew. At ages 11 and 8 respectively, they are at a great age to be engaging yet independent. My fear stemmed more out of the unknown for what was to come. What would we eat? How would we stay busy after school? What if they don’t like having me here this long? What happens if I let the rules slide a little?

I got lost in the “what if’s” game when I should have focused on the precious opportunity I was being afforded. I have a great niece and nephew who love spending time with me. I have a great job and colleagues who are willing to step up and allow me to take this time to be with family. What a gift all around!

As this post goes live I will be about halfway through my week of time with my favorite kiddos. As I continue to reflect on the time we have spent together so far, and how needlessly I worried as we approached our week together, I am reminded of how I feel when taking on a big new project or job. It’s a big risk to get out there and try something new and unfamiliar, but most of the time the rewards far outweigh the potential costs. Even if things don’t work out exactly as planned (and trust me, some of us plan a LOT), we truly are better for getting out there and giving things our best shot.

Retrospective Perspectives

How we listen determines who gets heard

By Rachel Luna

Despite living only about 15 miles from my office, I usually spend about 90 minutes in the car each day thanks to SF Bay Area traffic.  Radio stations with the same few songs do not hold my interest very long, so I’ve turned to podcasts and audiobooks for education and entertainment during my commute.  Some of my favorites include This American Life (and its breakout hit Serial), The Moth, Radiolab, and TED Talks (audio version).

Lately, I’ve been reflecting on my consumption of these media.  From where I sit –  listening to public radio on my smartphone as I drive to my full time job – I represent many privileges, such as education level and socioeconomic class.  Add on lenses from the hosts and reporters I choose to download, and even more aspects of power and privilege influence my media.  All this leads me to ask: What stories am I choosing to listen to?  Who is telling these stories?  How and why are they being told?  What am I doing with the knowledge and insights gained by listening to these stories?  What role am I playing in perpetuating media and power dynamics?

Amidst the popularity of Serial, there was quite a backlash and back-and-forth response about the show’s treatment of racial and cultural dynamics.  Last week Chenjerai Kumanyika published this piece about race and voice in public radio.  Subsequent conversations from NPR’s Code Switch with the #PubRadioVoice hashtag further explored the intersections of race, culture, and media content.  One commenter on the #PubRadioVoice hashtag said that people of color are seen as “interesting subject matter” as opposed to potential audience members.  When the same types of people control the storytelling, certain stories might be left out, told inaccurately, or have harmful impacts.  Homogeneity in the media is problematic for both process and content.

So how can this be changed?  Part of the solution is in empowering diverse voices and promoting multiple platforms for storytelling to create more multicultural content.   But new content is not itself sufficient for change.  As a listener, I need to check myself and look beyond popularity on iTunes to find these multiple perspectives.  I have to intentionally seek out voices that represent perspectives outside of the mainstream.  So far I’ve had more luck finding diverse content in the audiobook arena than with podcasts.  Most recently, I’ve listened to a few texts written and read by the authors, including Maya Angelou narrating I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings and Khaled Hosseini narrating The Kite Runner.  The synergy of the authors’ words combined with their own voices results in an authentic listening experience like no other.

A popular quote about stories says, “Those who tell the stories rule the world” (attributed to either Hopi Native American proverbs or Plato, depending on the source).  I believe a more complete perspective includes, “Those who listen to the stories choose the rulers.”

For those interested in the tech aspects, I use iTunes and BeyondPod to manage my podcasts, depending on the device.  For audiobooks, I turn to local libraries in the cities where I live and work.  Although I sometimes borrow the actual CDs, I am lucky that both of my local systems have OverDrive, an app that lets me download audiobooks directly to my mobile devices, so most often I don’t even have to leave my car to check out new titles.

How do you hear stories from people of a variety identities and cultures?  What audiobooks or podcasts do you recommend?  Comment below or tweet with me @RachelHLuna.

How we listen determines who gets heard

Getting rid of cable.

By Jennifer Keegin

As of December, my husband and I pulled the plug on our cable. We decided to take the plunge, save some money and figure out if we could handle living without a DVR.

We’ve been Amazon Prime and Netflix streaming members for awhile, and having a small kid at home – we usually catch most movies via Redbox or Amazon rentals anyway. So we tacked on Hulu Plus and watched to see what happened.

For one, our bills from Time Warner are now a more manageable $57 and the only new addition is the $7.99 a month for Hulu Plus. Here some thoughts about each:

– Amazon Prime. We bought the Amazon Fire TV box and it allows us to access Netflix, YouTube and some other apps that we’ve discovered like Pluto.TV that have channels you can view with like all Katy Perry videos, all Fail videos, or all puppies all the time. It’s actually pretty cool and you can view it online here.

– Hulu Plus. This is where I miss the DVR like crazy. Yes, I can watch my shows on Hulu. But its the day after. AND some of my favorite shows aren’t on there. Downton Abbey – NO. Mad Men – NO. So that’s the downside.

– Speaking of PBS…We did buy an antenna that allows us to get like 7 channels and PBS is one of them. So I still get my Downton Abbey…but I have to watch it live. 😦

– For kids. My little girl goes through phases. First we found shows she would watch in the morning via Hulu. Netflix is always her app of choice in the evenings. But now, she’s back to watching PBS shows in the morning. Hulu is not as used as much for her. AND her new favorite thing is watching “blind box” toy openings on YouTube. So YouTube is the new hotness in our house.

So far we have been ok with the change, but it would be nice to still have the DVR. Oh well. I can deal.

Getting rid of cable.

New Year New Blog (Well, Kind of)

By Kathryn Magura

Happy New Year! As Kristen alluded to in her post, we have some changes on the horizon for this blog. While Kristen and Brenda remain active bloggers on the site, they have both stepped away from their editorial responsibilities. I am continuing on as an editor, but have a new co-editor (who will introduce herself later this week).

You shouldn’t expect too many changes other than the editorial and behind the scenes staff. We have a great group of talented bloggers who are here to expand your knowledge and understanding of how to utilize technology in Student Affairs.

Thank you for being a reader. Please hit up the comments if you have ideas for topics you’d like to see covered. We like to have a lot of variety to the blog, and want to make sure all voices are represented. Cheers to a splendid 2015!

New Year New Blog (Well, Kind of)