Academic Advising + Technology

Excerpt from an interview that I just participated in…a few thoughts on technology and academic advising:

I have heard a number of advisors at conferences, who attend a session about technology in advising, and say something to the effect of This is nice, but how much time is this going to take up? I don’t have enough time as it is!” How do you answer that?

I really hope that we start redefining the paradigms of technology use in advising…it’s part of our toolkit, we need to embed a high level of use/competency in our positions.The time issue/question is interesting as it conflates increased technology use with decreased amounts of time. I always say that technology and its use actually increases our time…makes us better connected, more efficient, etc. It’s that initial learning curve that people confuse as time wasting when it is really just a small part of increasing their overall time. Folks in our profession (academic advising) seem to have been conditioned that learning new technology is somehow a burden or something that is “in addition” to the norm…we really need to re-define this or our future is not looking very good.

4 thoughts on “Academic Advising + Technology”

  1. Eric –

    I get this push back all the time in professional development settings. Facebook is seen as a huge “time waster” as is twitter.

    The respective stereotypes of “farmville” and “this is what I had for lunch” are used as a defense for actually trying these things. Other web 2.0 tools just get lumped as “that’s even more stuff I don’t have time for!”

    What I’ve found helps is listing the different stages of change acceptance, right up front of the conversation.

    Stage 1: Ignorance. It’s the easiest.

    Stage 2: Reaction. Various arguments against change. This sounds like “What I have works fine. I’m tool old for this. (Or a variant – this is for kids). I don’t have time for this. Etc.” (Search for “moral panic” in wikipedia for other reactionary dynamics in this phase that are well documented – these sound like “this change will destroy us”)

    Stage 3: Learning. Weighing pros and cons. Peer comparison. New stories. Assessment.

    Stage 4: Take it for granted.

    It’s easy to list changes that are now Stage 4 – computers, cell phones, etc. The main message is that we will make it through.

    Once these stages are listed up front, it allows people to be in Stage 2 “I don’t have time” and not be wrong. They’re just at stage 2. Everyone will move through the stages at their pace. Addressing the argument up front, and setting it within a natural human response to change, defuses most of the power.

  2. If you’ll pardon the implications of the old expression, I think the trick to teaching old dogs new tricks is teaching the old dogs HOW to learn new tricks. I’ve been to several workshops on technology and it seems like they are always about what you can do, which can be cool and exciting, but ignores the very basic introductions that some people need to the different tools. Hopefully we can work to effect the paradigm in ways that we do more to get people started with technology instead of expecting them to make that step on their own.

  3. @Kevin – I may borrow your stages model for future presentations ;-)

    @Zack – your comment brings up a very important point: technology competency – specifically how to use the Windows/Mac operating system, MS Office, and basic web skills. A lot of people say on their resume that they have these skills. However, we generally do not test them to see if they really are competent. The “basic instructions”/skills are lacking because we assume that people already have them…perhaps we should see if people truly have the skills that they claim to have prior to hiring them.

    The non-skilled crowd often dictates the level of tech discourse at conferences. I am seeking to change that paradigm by pushing the limits of the “crowd.”

  4. Part of the productivity challenge around advising is the time spent scheduling appointments. You might want to suggest professors and student check out (client of mine). It is an online scheduling application ( that gets rid of the back and forth emails/phone calls it takes to schedule meetings and makes scheduling appointments easier. is now used in over 700 universities, you can read more here: Check it out.

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