NASPA’s Walled Garden

NASPAs new website does not work on Firefox 3 on a Mac

NASPA, the largest association for student affairs practitioners, released a re-designed website last week. The major feature of the new site is a custom, members-only, social networking site. The new, NASPA members-only site is a walled garden.

Only NASPA members can access the site’s features. It’s sort of like iStudentAffairs, except that it isn’t. iStudentAffairs runs off of Ning, an open-source social networking platform. iStudentAffairs is therefore a familiar interface to anyone who has ever used a Ning-based site.

NASPA’s WG is sort of like iStudentAffairs except that it uses tables, has an extremely clunky interface (everything feels like it’s slower than it should be), lacks alt attributes on images, and you have to be a member of NASPA. I’m not very excited about NASPA’s new site. I had really high hopes… iStudentAffairs might not be the busiest student affairs practitioner portal, but it’s definitely the easiest to use, the most current-thinking, and the only open model on the net.

Apparently, as the above screen grab shows, the newly re-designed NASPA template also does not like Firefox 3 on a Mac as the nav bar rollovers are breaking.

Student Affairs Technology: To Boldly Go

Student Affairs Technology: To Boldly Go

“They should have explained the basic concepts at the beginning (e.g.: podcasts, blogs, wikis, etc.).”

“Be less technical.”

“Helping me to boldly go where I’ve never been before.”

One of these statements is not like the other two. I’m sure you can guess which one gives me hope as a student affairs techie that we as a profession have not lost our willingness to learn, to explore and to stay positive about new technologies. This article represents a call to action for student affairs practitioners. The microblogging site, Twitter, has a feature that lets you “nudge” someone that you are following. This is me providing a gentle nudge to my fellow higher education administrators. I hope that you nudge me back. Let’s push the envelope. Let’s shift our professional paradigms. Let’s make technology (and learning about new technologies) a part of our daily practices.

Continue reading Student Affairs Technology: To Boldly Go

NASPA National Conference

NASPA National Conference in Seattle Washington

The NASPA National Conference is finally coming back to the west coast! Woohoo! Washington DC was nice, Orlando was saved by Al Gore’s keynote, and I didn’t make it to Boston due to a lack of funds.

The 2009 NASPA National Conference is going to be held in Seattle, Washington. This is fantastic news for west coast student affairs practitioners who may have wanted to travel east but were unable to afford the costs of traveling across the country. I’ve actually never been to Seattle. Methinks that a trip prior to 2009 is in order.

Note: NASPA is the acronym for the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators. Most of the higher education association acronyms sound like a sneeze. NASPA, ACUHO-I, NACADA, ACPA, ASJA et. al. Their names make me want to say “gesundheit“.

NASPA + Abercrombie & Fitch

Update: NASPA seems to have received the message from its members that a partnership with Abercrombie & Fitch was a bad idea.

After the announcement last week about a partnership with Abercrombie & Fitch, we heard from a number of members who objected to NASPA partnering with this particular corporation. It’s important to know and to inform your constituencies that your voices have been heard. NASPA will not be going forward with the partnership. No agreements have been signed and no funds have been received. While the original decision to enter into the partnership was based on numerous conversations with the management of A&F and with many NASPA members and
leaders, based on additional information we received in regard to the business practices of A&F and the reaction of several members, I felt that it was in the best interest of NASPA not to move forward with an agreement. But most importantly, in walking away from the potential partnership, I respect the KC chairs and other leaders who, while perhaps uncomfortable with the partnership, wanted to support their professional association. I regret that they and other leaders received the brunt of some of the more vocal objections from some of our members.

Before the potential for this partnership was realized, the NASPA Board, at its July meeting, established a task force to review sponsorships for the associations. Any guidelines developed by this task force will be shared broadly with the NASPA membership.

We, in the NASPA office, want to note that in order to keep costs down for our members, we will need to continue to look for corporate sponsorships. However, we will work within guidelines established by a committee of the Board that will help us avoid situations such as we encountered with the potential A & F partnership.

NASPA remains committed to the values of diversity and inclusion. We continue to hear and respond to the concerns of our members. NASPA _is_its members and we thank you all for your support.

Apparently NASPA is for sale to the highest bidder. NASPA is one of two higher education associations for Student Affairs professionals. It was recently announced that NASPA was partnering with Abercrombie & Fitch. Specifically, A&F would be providing monetary support for the NASPA Multicultural Institute (a conference on social justice issues for student affairs practitioners.). I am stupefied by NASPA’s decision to take money from Abercrombie & Fitch. The Diversity link at the bottom of the A&F homepage focuses on the diversity (in this case, race and ethnicity) of A&F’s employees. My question to NASPA and A&F is what about the marketing of A&F products. The only people of color on the A&F site (that I see while currently browsing their site) are on the Diversity page!

A&F’s advertising (via the web and in store) is about as diverse as a klan newsletter. It appears to me that NASPA (and several other well-known and respected associations) are for sale to the highest bidder. I think that the A&F PR machine is donating large amounts of money in an effort to deflect criticism of their sales and marketing scheme. Increasing the number of employees of color from zero to more than zero does increase the diversity (see the percentage in the press release below) of the A&F workforce, but it does little to eliminate an institutionalized discriminatory corporate culture that utilizes white supremacy and sexual objectification to sell a product.

The official release from NASPA is after the jump.

Continue reading NASPA + Abercrombie & Fitch

Blogs and Student Learning

Here are the PowerPoint slides from the “Blogs and Student Learning: Making Meaning and Connections through Graduate Student Portfolios” (PDF/2.3 MB) presentation that I co-presented with JW at the NASPA Western Regional Conference.

The presentation evaluation is located at ericstoller.com/blog/evaluation.

Blogfolio at the NASPA Western Regional

JW and I will be presenting “Blogs and Student Learning: Making Meaning and Connections through Graduate Student Portfolios” at the 2006 NASPA Western Regional Conference in San Francisco next month. We’ll be using my “blogfolio” as an example of how blogs can be used in higher education graduate programs to facilitate learning in multiple contexts.

The conference will be at the Crowne Plaza Hotel near Union Square. I’m excited about presenting with JW. She’s been a terrific advisor and mentor to me. I wonder if she’ll mind if I place a sign that says “Eric Stoller, available for hire” on my chest… I could become a freelance student affairs techie and create blogs for colleges and universities…

Program Abstract:

Participants are invited to engage in dialogue about the use of blogs (web logs) as a unique student learning experience. Presenters will briefly discuss the phenomenon of blogs and then share examples of student blogs created as the capstone experience within Oregon State University’s student affairs master’s program. Presenters will facilitate conversation around the challenges and opportunities in using blogs and ways in which student affairs professionals may utilize blogs beyond the classroom to serve students better.

According to a program reviewer:

This well-prepared proposal effectively conveys the presenters’ knowledge, practices, and enthusiasm. The presentation has the tremendous potential of starting a blogging epidemic among faculty members and student affairs practitioners who strive to improve student learning.

I’ve never started an epidemic before. No pressure…