“We don’t have a choice on whether we DO social media, the question is how well we DO it.” – Erik Qualman
Technology and social media are integral pieces of the world today. It is important for our program to embrace, use, and educate future student affairs practitioners about technology because of the prominence and widespread use of these new technologies. Strong communities of people with common interests are being built online. For our graduates to be competitive in the job market they need to be able to use technology. And technology is not just social networking sites, the term encompasses all of the technology tools that student affairs professionals use daily.
Websites and communication platforms are typically given the label “social media” although they are also used as an information or marketing network. These sites can help with branding, community building, engagement, and event promotion. Our CSAA-D project is about marketing and attracting the best students to the CSAA Ph.D. program at UGA. A unified hashtag and a blog will allow us to share our content online. Future students are using technology in many ways. Student affairs professionals and faculty members need to be communicating in those spaces so they can find us.
We have a chance to use social networking sites and create opportunities for others to learn. These opportunities are facilitated by how we tell our story online. Posts on the blog and with the hashtag will invite others to apply to our program, but will also facilitate lifelong learning between current students and alumni. For example, Twitter is more than a social site; it is an opportunity for learning. Twitter is a part of my personal learning network. My account started as a place where I increased my knowledge of NC State sports, and turned into a place where I connected to others who share my interest in: NC State, football, running, student affairs, education, and technology. The UGA CSAA program has an opportunity to be a leader, embracing and using technology with prospective and current students.
A blog is dynamic; it has ever-changing content. The blog needs to be social, mobile-optimized, searchable, and accessible (Eric Stoller). Blogs allow for reader interaction in the form of comments, liking, or sharing on social networking sites of choice. This is an opportunity to humanize the program and engage with prospective students. Posts can be distributed by an email service to mimic a newsletter format. Utilizing these tools will increase the reach and functionality of the blog.
We are taking our first step towards changes and innovation in our program. CSAA faculty members, such as Dr. Linder, Dr. Dunn, and Dr. Maddox, are already integrating Twitter hashtags in their courses. We need to capitalize on new technologies and use this opportunity to brand our program and better share the good work of faculty and students studying student affairs at UGA. We need to be present in spaces where our future students are engaging, because we want to attract innovative and forward-thinking students to the program. This is why getting this level of technology embedded in the program matters to me.
Chandler Thompson, CSAA-M ‘14
Chandler is a second-year masters student in the CSAA program at UGA. She is a graduate of North Carolina State University where she served as Student Body President. Chandler is an advocate for technology use to improve organization efficiency and communication. Inside Higher Ed recently named Chandler one of 20 Pros to Follow on social media. After finishing the program, Chandler plans to continue helping students and improving the student experience – at whichever institution she finds herself next!