Catching Up on Inside Higher Ed

Student Affairs and Technology at Inside Higher Ed

Being a blogger for Inside Higher Ed (IHE) has been one of the greatest opportunities in my professional career. Thus far, as the Student Affairs and Technology blogger, I’ve written 346 blog posts in 5 years. The site and its team of reporters, bloggers, and editors is a constant source of camaraderie and support…and when you’re an independent consultant, it’s nice to have at least some connections to a regular business/journalistic operation.

As previously mentioned, it’s been a while since I’ve posted on this blog (today being the exception as I’ve been cranking out post after post after…you get the idea), I wanted to share several of my most recent IHE posts on this blog because I think it’s always a good idea to let one blog know what the other blog is doing…especially when you’re the author. So, get ready, because this is going to be a long post…seriously, this a good one:

Social Media Questions and Answers
Social Media Questions and Answers

CSSA 599 sounds like the name of a new droid for the new Star Wars movie. However, CSSA 599 is a special topics class at Oregon State University. Recently, students from the class tweeted a series of questions about social media/technology and invited me to respond. Giving answers in 140 character bursts makes you be extremely concise with your responses. After ruminating on their tweets/questions, I decided to write up some longer responses.

Pass the cast with Periscope
Pass the Cast Using Periscope

When Periscope came on the social media scene a mere 7 months ago, they made quite a splash. Acquired by Twitter before their official launch, Periscope (a direct competitor with Meerkat) is all about live-streaming mobile video with a social media twist.

Hello is a reintroduction
Hello is a Reintroduction

Sometimes you just need to say “hello.” From Apple to Adele, hello is oftentimes a reintroduction. Lately, it’s been an interesting professional exercise. When work takes you to multiple countries, colleges, universities, departments, disciplines, topics, etc., the act of saying “hello” and filling in the blanks of “what is it that you do?” takes a bit more time/effort than it did when titles were familiar and employment wasn’t the “self.”

Observations From the Frat Subreddit
Observations From the Frat Subreddit

Recently, I’ve been observing the r/Frat subreddit. It’s a fascinating space on reddit. If you work in student affairs, especially Greek Life / Fraternity Sorority Life (FSL), I would suggest that you take a look. The comments/posts are a melange of good, bad, and ugly.

Digital Identity Dev is a Process
Digital Identity Dev is a Process

Our digital identities matter. What we post, share, say, upload, snap, and tweet represents our digital identity. It’s our online presence.

Getting Digital is Required
Getting Digital is Required

When every individual in an organization gets digital, the entire organization benefits. In higher education, being digitally capable has to be required. Most students are paying a lot of money for their higher education. They deserve a tremendous experience. It’s unacceptable for anyone who works in higher education to be anti-technology or digitally underdeveloped. Get digital or get out of the way.

7 Months is a Good Thing

It’s been 7 months since my last post on this blog. Of course, this is a good thing. Why? Well, it means that life has been quite busy with all sorts of things. Working in the US and the UK has kept me quite busy. When all is said and done for the year, I will have taken 3 epic consulting trips to the US and managed to establish/grow a consulting/speaking presence in the UK. And, I’ve been writing a lot for Inside Higher Ed.

Thankfully, virtual content delivery has been an effective way for me to “present” at US-based events as well as take on work with US clients in a way that doesn’t have me taking too many flights.

The past 7 months has been filled with learning as much as possible about UK higher education via in-person conversations, social media engagement, and reading everything in sight. Of course, I’m also still continuously plugged-in to everything that’s happening in US higher education.

Eric and Gillian

Additionally, Gillian and I have had several opportunities to travel in Europe (Spain, the Netherlands, Italy, and France) and we even ran our first half-marathon in October…In case you’re wondering, the Cardiff Half Marathon is a wonderful event. So, apologies for being a bit less active on this blog.

My bio page as well as my speaking/consulting page are always up-to-date.

Make Time For Learning

Eric Stoller and my watch

Lifelong learning is exciting. The constant ebb and flow of learning new things makes each day an adventure. If you don’t have time to learn, are you really living? What message are you sending out to your kids, your spouse, your co-workers, your friends, or anyone else that matters to you when you say that you “don’t have time to learn how to do ______?” Remember, learning is lifelong. Learning never stops.

Semi-Subversively Tweeting the Super Bowl

Twitter football bird and subversive super bowl tweets

A massively popular sporting event + Twitter = ample opportunities for critical thinking, irony, and sharing. My first thought about the enormity of the Super Bowl (and its related mega-money generation) is the baffling fact that the NFL is a nonprofit entity. It’s ludicrous that a highly profitable business like the NFL doesn’t have to pay taxes.

Several people were live-tweeting the Super Bowl who have absolutely no idea about the rules/regulations of the game…and I think xkcd nailed it with this comic.

Sports broadcasters tend to say the most inane things. They tend to say the same things over and over again, game after game. It’s amusing that this is the state of sports “analysis.”

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Always Going To Be Running

just-keep-running-eric

When I reach the third mile of a run, that’s when it happens. My body hits another gear. Thoughts are clearer and emotions are muted. Time clicks away with serenity. Running becomes something more than just exercise. It’s a space for reflection, dreams, and determination.

Three years ago, after I quit my job at Oregon State University, I decided to go for a run. I mapped out a 3 mile course, put on my sneakers, and trotted out the door. So many of my friends had told me about how much they loved to run. I figured, how hard can it be? The first mile was extremely difficult. My lungs were on fire and my legs were already fatigued. I ended up walking the remaining 2 miles back to my apartment. I was not a runner. But I am fairly stubborn. Determined to try running again, I went out to do the same 3 mile loop after giving my legs a couple of days rest. Again, it was so hard. My lungs rebelled and my legs were sore. But I made it a little bit further before I had to start walking. There was a glimmer of progress.

Growing up in Iowa and doing a lot of manual labor instilled a work ethic inside of me that still prevails to this day. Knowing that sometimes it takes a lot of hard work for incremental gain, I attempted to rationalize that running might be hell now, but it could be good if I kept working. A month went by and I was able to slowly run for 3 miles without stopping. It was a lot of work. There was a lot of heavy breathing and self-doubt. I wasn’t a runner yet, but I was trying.

When I moved to Boston in 2011, I got into a regular groove of running. From three miles to five and then finally I made it to eight miles per run. It was something that I never expected to be able to do. No one in my family ran for exercise. In fact, my mom always told me that running was akin to a four-letter swear word. We didn’t run. And then I found myself piling on the miles. Sharing stories with other runners and actually understanding why they, why we did it. Sure, it was about fitness and exercise, but it has always been about something else.

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Processing some thoughts about Boston

I love Boston

I’ve lived in Boston since the summer of 2011. It’s been my home for almost two years. Boston is an awesome city. I love its people, places, sights, and sounds.

When news broke (via Twitter) that bombs had gone off at the Boston Marathon, my heart sank. I was sitting in a coffee shop. Out of state, but not out of touch. I felt an adrenaline rush go through my body. The kind of rush that happens when you first find out that something awful has happened and you want to help, to assist, to be there for those in need.

Knowing that several of my friends were most-likely going to be watching the race, I immediately started checking Facebook and Twitter for posts/tweets. Several of my friends had already checked-in to let people know that they were okay.

This past Monday in Boston was a horrible day for so many people. Lives were lost. Lives will be forever affected.

Boston is a great city. Its people are resilient. It’s a city that is made stronger by the acts of caring and courage that took place on Monday. I’m still out of town for another week or so and my heart is heavy. I’m still processing. Still working my way through intense emotion. Empathy reigns.

The people of Boston are showing the best parts of their spirit this week: hope, love, kindness, and strength.

Dear Boston, you are in my thoughts.

Digital Identity, Social Media, Privacy, and Balance

Digital Identity and Social Media

Part of the experience of being a keynote speaker at the Jon C. Dalton Institute on College Student Values is that you get to do an interview with the Character Clearinghouse at Florida State University. The questions from Pamela Crosby, the editor of the site (as well as the Journal of College and Character), were stellar. Here’s an excerpt:

Why should students care about their digital identity?
Students should care about their digital identity for a variety of reasons. As members of a campus community, it is important for students to know that their online actions can have impact. Student Conduct offices are no longer just concerned with what happens in the brick-and-mortar campus spaces. Additionally, most students are pursuing future careers, and higher education is their launch pad. Social media posts can show up in search engine queries. Companies are no longer just looking at your resume. They want to know what you are doing (and saying) online too. Now, that’s more of the punitive side of things. Digital identity is about much more than just worrying about its effects on future employment or conduct violations. Students with a fluent grasp of social media can accelerate their learning, develop meaningful connections with peers, and grow their professional network. What we do online can affect our face-to-face interactions…and vice versa.

Why should higher education be concerned about students’ digital identity?
I think that when the original work on “digital natives” and “digital immigrants” first became popular, it caused an educational disconnect. Administrators and staff at institutions seemingly (without a lot of critical discourse) bought the rhetoric that students were digitally savvy. In fact, students are no better at creating and cultivating their digital identity than anyone else. We’re all digital students in the sense that we are constantly learning how to use the social tools while they are constantly evolving. Schools need to be intentional about how they incorporate digital identity development into their educational constructs. Social media are not a trend or a fad that are going to someday evaporate. We need to be proactive with teaching our students how to build their digital identity versus being reactive whenever they post something that we wish hadn’t made it onto the web. Like anything in education, critical conversations about digital identity are essential. It’s like that movie, “The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly,” we have to jump in, create our own digital identity, and educate our students too.

Read the rest of the interview at the Character Clearinghouse site.

Making Coffee, Appreciating the Pause

Eric Stoller loves making coffee

One of my favorite times of the day is when I go into the kitchen to make coffee. I associate a lot of different memories with coffee. My Grandpa Clyde used to drink an entire thermos of it on a daily basis. Coffee was part of a ritual. When I make coffee, I enjoy the process of making it as much as I enjoy the actual beverage. Measuring out just the right amount of beans into the hopper of my burr grinder, filling up the hot water kettle, prepping the French press, putting sugar and milk into my 20 ounce coffee mug…these are all parts of a break in my day where I get to reflect on what I’ve done pre-coffee and what I plan on doing after things have brewed and the timer beeps that the moment is complete. It’s a meditative, reflective experience. Looking out the window in the kitchen and letting my mind pause. These are the moments in the day that create space for creativity, stress reduction, and an enhanced clarity of thought. Making coffee. Sure, I love the bump that I get from the caffeine…the warmth that it conveys…but most of all, I love making coffee because it makes me take a pause. I appreciate those pauses.

How I’m Powered by Orange

Eric Stoller is Powered by Orange

My last day at Oregon State University (OSU) is September 30th. I think it’s fitting as my first day at OSU was also in September. Six years ago I moved out to Oregon from Chicago, IL. It was a tremendous life transition. I had been working at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) and the decision to leave UIC/Chicago was a big one for a young professional from the Midwest.

When I first started looking at graduate programs in higher education/student affairs I had no idea that I would end up moving to Oregon. I remember checking up on about 5 or 6 programs. I kept coming back to OSU as my first choice. Eventually, I decided to apply for the College Student Services Administration (CSSA) program at OSU. It was the only grad program that I submitted an application to. In hindsight, I probably should have applied to more than one school just in case OSU didn’t accept me. However, sometimes you have to put all of your eggs in a single basket and hope for the best. Concentrating on a single application made my process extremely focused. I was going to get into grad school at Oregon State. There wasn’t a “plan B.”

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