Google Drive for the Workplace

By Kathryn Magura

I’ve been using Google Drive apps personally for quite some time. I find that it’s more convenient for saving documents – especially if I’m working collaboratively on something with other people – to use a Google Doc or spreadsheet than sending an attachment via email.

Needless to say, when I found out our campus was partnering with Google to bring Drive to campus, allowing us to create and share documents with our University credentials, I got very excited. We’ve been a Google Drive campus for about 6 months now, and it’s been great!

Here are some of the ways I have been utilizing Google Drive on campus. Some of these techniques can be helpful for you, even if you are not currently using Google Drive on campus:

  1. Edit a document collaboratively with colleagues across campus: Not only can I track changes made by other user accounts, I can ensure FERPA guidelines are enforced by restricting access to either specific accounts, or to those within my University who have the link.
  2. Share documents across units or departments: I have found over time that we have made our share-drive for our department so locked down and restricted, that it is impossible to share documents across units or departments without sending massive email attachments. Through Google Drive all I have to do is send a link, or personalized email to a user, and they can either see or edit the document.
  3. Multiple users can edit a document simultaneously: Have you ever tried to access a document only to find that someone else has it locked for editing on their machine? So annoying. Good news though, with Google docs you can allow for users who have access to a document to edit the document at the same time. Or better yet, if you only want people to look at a document but not edit, you can;
  4. Allow collaborators to look or comment but not edit: There have been times I’ve wanted people to look at a document, but didn’t want them to make any edits. Thankfully Google anticipated this by allowing you to give various access levels to users. My favorite is to allow people to make comments on a document but not edit it entirely. This allows people to share thoughts but not accidentally make changes. If you do allow people to make edits, and something goes wrong;
  5. You can revert back to old versions and see what content has been edited: Again, Google seems to have anticipated a common occurrence in the workplace: someone accidentally edits a document or deletes a key element you needed, and it saved before you had a chance to stop them. Good news! Google Drive tracks edits and allows the originator of the document to revert back to previous versions.

 

So these are just some of the ways I have benefited from the use of Google Drive at work. In fact, Google Drive has been so useful, we used the spreadsheet function for our end of the year residence hall check out process (leave me a comment below if you’d like to know more about how we used Google spreadsheets for closing). How have you utilized Google Drive on your campus?

Google Drive for the Workplace

Adventures in Podcasting

By Valerie Heruska

I feel a little weird writing about podcasting, but I think that is something that I am just going to have to get over and move on with.

I’ve embarked on a new adventure: Podcasting. Blogging will always be near and dear to my heart, but podcasting allows for me to engage in another form where one can actually hear my voice and sassiness…. and my bad jokes, although I think they’re hilarious.

The idea came about to co-host a weekly podcast after some texts back and forth with a friend. We decided to call it “Professional Reputations Aside” because although we are both professionals in student affairs, we wanted to show case our thoughts on the field and other things that have nothing to do with student affairs. Basically, it’s a hodge podge of ridiculousness, but there’s something for everyone to enjoy. I think we have 5  dedicated listeners.

With that, if you ever decide you want to podcast, here’s a simple way of how to get started:

1. If you’re using a Mac Book Pro (or any Mac product), using Quicktime would be your best bet. All you need to do is to open a new audio recording and hit that big red button and you’re on your way to making media history.

2.  If you’re co-hosting… use headphones.

3. Check your audio input and output levels. If your input level is too low, you sound like you’re underwater. Same goes for your co-host or any special guest you have on your show.

4. Once you’re done, you want to export your recording into Mp4/Mp3 format.

5. Edit, Edit, Edit. You never know when you might have said something shady or inappropriate. I’m sure I have…and I’m sure my co-host did not edit them out. Macbooks come with some great editing tools. I have no clue about PCs (sorry folks)

6.  You’re going to need someone to host your podcast. If you have your own website where you can host, feel free to use that. If you don’t there are services that will host a podcast for you. I did a quick Google search and Libsyn seems to be the most popular.

7. Tell people you’re podcasting. I would love to hear what you have to say. In fact I prefer to listen to podcasts over music when I run.

If you have a podcast or any audio recording tips, please share them with us!

Adventures in Podcasting

Ageism in Student Affairs Technology

by Kristen Abell

Recently I read an interesting article about ageism in the magical land of tech – Silicon Valley that highlights some of the difficulty of being an older male in technology start-ups in a field that treasures a young bro mentality (and never mind the fact that this article focused ENTIRELY on ageism in regards to men – that’s a whole other post or five). Because I work in technology within student affairs, this of course started my mind churning about how ageism plays a role (or doesn’t) when it comes to our field.

I’d love to hear perspectives from other campuses, but if your campus is anything like mine, then the assumption is that the younger you are, the more you “get” technology. And by technology, I think what I’m generally talking about here is the web and computers – at least based on what others seem to perceive it as. Have we not coined the term “digital native” in higher ed?

And yet, when I look at who holds the main technology positions on campus, it is generally middle-aged or older men (and the occasional woman, but mostly men). So maybe we don’t hold to the ageist perceptions of Silicon Valley entirely. That being said, I know that when I start talking technology at student affairs conferences, at the ripe old age of 37, I’m usually either the youngest person in the room (for the 101 sessions) or the oldest person in the room (for the more in-depth sessions – nothing like having a Ferris Bueller joke fall flat because no one in your session has seen it).

I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the classism inherent in our perception that all young people understand technology – we’re making an assumption that all of them have access to the latest and greatest gadgets, tools and toys.

I’m curious – do you feel there is ageism when it comes to technology in student affairs? Are we similar to Silicon Valley, or do we differ in our inclusivity? Please share your thoughts!

Ageism in Student Affairs Technology

It’s OK to be a Technology Nerd

By Kathryn Magura

Hi, my name is Kathryn, and I am a technology nerd. Phew, that felt good to say in this safe space. Is this a safe space? Can I share what I’m thinking here? I’m going to go ahead and say yes.

As I confessed above, I am a technology nerd. What does that mean? It means I enjoy discovering new technology and really learning the ins and outs of a new system. Have a recommendation for a new scheduling software tool? Let me check it out! Want me to look at a new social media site? Don’t mind if I do! I enjoy the challenge of discovery in trying out a system I don’t know, and rejoice in feeling like I truly understand it.

Over time, my role within student affairs has taken on more of a technological spin, and I’m just fine with that. I have blogged before about how I sort of fell into a technology role after years of convincing myself I was no good with technology. Now I get super excited to test out new technology. I even get jazzed about finding the technology vendors at conferences and starting up a conversation!

As we go through some changes at work, it appears that my love for testing out new technology will soon be put to the test. I am nervous, excited, and a bit scared for what this can all mean, so I am choosing to take comfort and pride in knowing that I am a true technology nerd, and will learn a lot about a variety of software packages (and probably myself) as I go through this process.

So tell me, who else is a technology nerd? Or do you prefer the term technology geek?

It’s OK to be a Technology Nerd

Highlight A Woman: Stacy Oliver-Sikorski

By Kathryn Magura

Hello everyone! Today I have the pleasure of highlighting a woman who has not only been a pioneer of advocacy for women in Student Affairs, she is also a good friend of mine. Stacy Oliver-Sikorski has been a mainstay in the Student Affairs community on Twitter. Surprisingly, Stacy has never been featured in this series, so consider that glitch fixed!

  1. Tell us a little about yourself, and how you use technology in your professional role? I currently serve as the Associate Director of Residence Life for Student Success at Lake Forest College, a small, private liberal arts college 30 miles north of Chicago. In my role, I work primarily with housing operations — including room assignment processes , academic programming, and student conduct. Technology is imperative in my role. If our office is a bus, my role is serving as the computer in the engine. I work intently with our student information system, our conduct software, and we recently started the implementation of a housing software solution to assist with assignments and operations.
  2. What advice do you have for women looking to get into a career path of leadership in technology? Very simply, you can’t break it. People, especially women, are intimidated by technology and afraid of breaking something. I jump in, feet first, and start testing the limits of our solutions. I ask questions when I don’t see a function that would be helpful for me. I try new things. I always have a test student in each of our systems so I can run through a series of processes before launching something more widely. I meet regularly with Tonja, my colleague in IT, to talk through what I have going on in my world and what ideas she has for helping. I regularly ask her to teach me things so I can do them for myself, rather than letting her do them for me semester after semester.
  3. SLOWhen you were younger, did you ever see yourself pursuing a career in technology? Absolutely not. I’ve always been a nerd, but in different ways. This position is the first place that all of these separate interests have collided into something that finally makes sense for me.
  4. When you were younger, did you ever see yourself pursuing a career in technology? Absolutely not. I’ve always been a nerd, but in different ways. This position is the first place that all of these separate interests have collided into something that finally makes sense for me.
  5. What are some barriers for women in technology? Women are afraid to ask questions, afraid to look stupid in front of others.  But it’s through asking those questions that we learn. Women are also not always given access to technology in the way men are, even from the time they are young. Open doors for yourself, tear down walls. Even if you don’t have the solutions, asking the right questions is a perfectly valid reason to claim your seat at the technology table.
  6. Who are your female role models (student affairs or otherwise)? Oh, you don’t have time for this list. Deb Schmidt-Rogers at DePaul University is who I aspire to be; Anne Lombard at SUNY-ESF is my cherished mentor of 11 years; Kristen Abell at UMKC is someone whose courage and passion is awe inducing; Kathy Collins at Michigan State University is a force in this field and in my life.
  7. If you were one of the seven dwarves, which would you be and why? Sneezy. I’m allergic to EVERYTHING. I sneeze twice every morning while eating a banana, and I have no idea why (neither does my allergist). 🙂

 

Thank you for sharing your story, Stacy!

Highlight A Woman: Stacy Oliver-Sikorski

What’s up with WhatsApp?

By Josie Ahlquist

This will serve as my first official post as part of the blogging team on Student Affairs Women Talk Tech, which I am honored to be part of!  I am a second year doctoral student at California Lutheran University, with my research based around social media and higher education.

I will admit my primary lens of technology in higher ed is through communications, marketing and community development, hence why many of my posts will have roots in social media.  I am not always an early adopter or ‘in the know’ about every new device or platform.   It takes a little convincing and sometimes even a couple tries for something new to sink in.  Many times I will explore a new application, but with the intent of answering two questions: the what and the why.

So, I appreciated the challenge of specifically highlighting an app, which has been picking up steam with youth around the globe called WhatsApp.  Last week a number of articles were released, featuring the strength of WhatsApp, especially to youth.  I caught myself asking, “What’s Up with WhatsApp?!”

As listed on their company website: http://www.whatsapp.com/

“WhatsApp Messenger is a cross-platform mobile messaging app which allows you to exchange messages without having to pay for SMS.”

The company started in 2009 from previous Yahoo staff, with now 10 billion messages per day.  The verge.com reported that CEO Jan Koum announced there are 350 million active users, up 50 million just from August.

What does this mean?  An article from The guardian claimed it makes WhatsApp the largest messaging app in the world by users, even more than Twitter at 218 million.

Finally, what really got my attention was an ABC News feature, on how teens are leaving Facebook for WhatsApp.  The article points to teens finding networks that adults are not on and are instant communication tools.

Armed with information (like a true doctoral student/qualitative researcher), I sought to understand from others why they use WhatsApp.  I took to the Twitter stream, seeing if any of my followers actively used it.

Within seconds, responders cheered.  The common theme: communication with family in other countries.  This makes sense, as WhatsApp has the strongest force outside of the United States.

For me, without close family in other countries, it is hard to know if I would have begun using this application at an earlier date.  Come to find out, I have had the app downloaded on my iPhone for sometime, buried in a folder three swipes in.

Logging into the application was simple and automatically populated with the contacts in my phone.   When I downloaded it over a year ago, I added the byline “exploring.”  While I am still not what WhatsApp would classify as one of their 350 million active users, I am keeping a close eye and, as my byline announces, still exploring.

I encourage my colleagues to do the same.  Applications will surge, settled and compete against the next emerging platform.  For WhatsApp, this is against WeChat, who has a strong presence in China and 235 million monthly active users globally.

No matter the app, what can be assumed is that mobile communication applications are in demand.  Mobile users are looking for alternative methods for messaging other than text, especially those connecting internationally.   As higher education professionals the challenge is not to download every emerging app, rather gaining an understanding of trends and answering the what and the why.

Happy Exploring!

 

Sources

http://www.theverge.com/2013/10/22/4865328/whatsapp-350-million-monthly-active-users

http://www.theguardian.com/technology/2013/nov/10/teenagers-messenger-apps-facebook-exodus

http://abcnews.go.com/Technology/teens-leaving-facebook/story?id=20739310

http://thenextweb.com/mobile/2013/10/27/whatsapp-is-leading-the-mobile-messaging-battle-but-will-it-win-the-war/

http://www.whatsapp.com/

http://www.wechat.com/en/

 

What’s up with WhatsApp?

Highlight an App: Groupme

By Niki Messmore

These are strange times for communication. We live in a period that has dozens of available platforms to communicate with others (phone, Skype, Facetime, Facebook, Twitter, etc) yet it can still be difficult to touch base with those we care about. While 3-way phone calls were a hip thing back when I was a teen, society’s methods for group communication have evolved. Yet besides Facebook and email, what are the best ways to communicate with a group?

If you say texting, you’re only partially correct – while many of the smart phones will create a group text that allows everyone to see all responses, if a person has a different brand phone or a ‘dumb’ phone, then it appears as randomized texting gibberish that gets confusing to understand.

Groupme is the alternative that brings together a group conversation over text regardless of phone type. This app is available for download over phones, tablets, and computers. You register using your phone number and then, upon granting access to your phone, groupme will bring up all your contacts who use groupme. Have a contact who does not? No problem! As long as you have their phone number you can add someone to a group conversation – even if they haven’t downloaded the app.

The app is simple to use and allows images to be sent along with texts as well. All images sent within the group are saved, providing you with a private photo album.

I enjoy groupme for keeping in touch with groups of friends. It allows us all to communicate and send updates on lives at once, hereby making it easier to keep in touch and have ‘real talk’ about life updates. It can also be great for special event planning and other work opportunities when having quick contact with one another can be crucial.

I’m not a heavy user of groupme just yet – mostly because a)I’m a grad student, b)it is October; ergo c)I have less time for social fun – but I think it is a simple and creative way to communicate with groups of people. Special shout out to Courtney Rousseau for introducing me to the app!

So what do you think – is groupme an efficient and fun way to keep in touch with people? Or are there better alternatives out there? Let me know in the comments or hit me up via Twitter @NikiMessmore

 

Highlight an App: Groupme