Full disclosure: I am currently an academic advisor. It’s my first full-time academic advising experience. I actually was quite pro-active about avoiding academic advising experiences when I was in graduate school. I never thought that I would be an academic advisor. I’ve been in my current advising position for 3 years. It’s been an incredible experience. Having said that, this post is not about me. It’s for anyone who has ever been an academic advisor who has dealt with the subject matter of this post.
A friend of mine is an academic advisor. She’s currently looking for a new position within student affairs. Having applied for several positions that have not yielded an offer. She came to the conclusion that having “academic advisor” at the top of her most recent experiences on her resume was resulting in her application being ignored or devalued. We chatted about how her resume could be re-worked to be more of a skills-based document. While I wasn’t happy about the apparent devaluing of academic advising that seemed to be occurring, I could empathize with both my friend and prospective hiring departments.
The state of academic advising in higher education is that it is a field that is predominantly seen as being in academic affairs. What this means is that while academic advisors may do exactly the same kinds of work as their student affairs colleagues, they might not be recognized for this due to the “silo effect” in higher education.
I am thrilled to announce that I’m going to be blogging about Student Affairs and Technology for Inside Higher Ed (IHE). As an avid reader of IHE, I am very excited to join the IHE blogging team. I think that my posts on student affairs + technology will complement Joshua Kim’s blog on Technology and Learning.
Recently, I held a contest via Twitter to name my new blog. The incentive — a $100 Amazon gift card — courtesy of Inside Higher Ed. Several folks came up with interesting/creative blog names. I think the #SAChat Community provided the majority of ideas. Student Affairs folks are uber creative.
Here are my 3 favorite submissions:
Jeff Jackson: The Stoller Strikes Back, Return of the Blogosphere, Student Affairs….I am Your Blogger
Choosing a winner from these 3 has been extremely challenging. Star Wars references, Sanford, and an entire Association…how cool is that?!! After more than a week of deliberate (intentional ;-) ) deliberating I have decided that the winner of the gift card is:
Zack Ford’s submission made me laugh. It’s subtle….and I love subtlety. The obvious nod / homage to Nevitt Sanford warms the heart. Challenge and Support is one of my all-time favorite, and oft-used, student development theories.
It should be noted that Julie Larsen was correct…the official name of my new blog is going to be: Student Affairs and Technology. The name needed to be something that would be simple enough that any IHE reader would know exactly what it was about. The blog also needed to be search engine friendly…”Students Affairs + Technology” is simple and searchable.
Stay tuned for my first official post on Inside Higher Ed!
The purpose of these recommendations is to provide guidance to Academic Advisors contemplating the inclusion of on-line social communication tools in their personal or programmatic advising design.
For the purposes of this discussion, Online Social Communications will be understood as externally hosted Web environments, sometimes referred to as Social Media Environments, in which information is aggregated, presented and shared. Further, where functionality exist, the environments allow you to document and filter connections between individuals, maintain profiles, support multimedia, and facilitate communication with a time shift supporting response at user-defined times. On-Line Social Communication environments include Facebook and other Online Social Networks, Twitter, YouTube, personal blogs and wiki pages. Since Facebook’s introduction in 2004, an ever-increasing number of advisors, student services specialists, academic units and universities have been leveraging the benefits of an on-line presence.
The expanding use of on-line social communication by advisors and advising offices, evidenced by numerous publications and presentations over the past five years, encouraged the NACADA Commission for Technology in Advising to proffer the following recommendations when considering inclusion of Social Communication tools in the delivery of advising information:
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.
The NACADA Region 8 Conference Technology Seminar will be a hands on, interactive advising technology experience with a focus on utilizing the latest web-based technologies including: Blogs, Wikis, Twitter, Facebook Pages, RSS/Content Re-purposing, MS Outlook Enhancements, Web Statistics/Assessment, Online Surveys/Forms, Web Video/Audio and Social Bookmarking. In addition to learning how to use these tools, attendees will be given the tools to implement an academic advising oriented social media communications planning framework.
This seminar is for advisors who identify as having an intermediate to advanced comfort level with technology. Participants will be expected to bring a wi-fi capable laptop. This seminar is for advisors who want to go beyond signing up for a Facebook profile and boldly go forward with expanding their technology implementations/expertise.
I recently received an invite to the Google Wave beta. The day after I received my invite, I demoed Google Wave to some of the faculty at OSU. We started brainstorming ways in which we could use Google Wave. (It should be noted that the limitations of Blackboard were frequently mentioned in this conversation.) I immediately started pondering how Google Wave could be useful for Academic Advisors in academic advising.
The initial question after I showed my Google Wave account on the big screen was quite simple — what is it? The answer is very complicated. Google Wave is a new way of communicating and collaborating that uses a lot of the elements in current web tools.
Google Wave overview:
Google Wave has the potential to be an exciting new web tool for group advising, content repurposing via Wave embeds, classroom discussions, shared academic advising knowledge bases, collaborative document creation/sharing between advisors/students and distance advising.
The list of Google Wave possibilities is seemingly limited to one’s imagination and creativity.
One of the topics that is frequently making the rounds in my head is the need for an academic advising management system in higher education. SunGard Higher Education’s DegreeWorks appears to offer a comprehensive platform for academic advisors. However, DegreeWorks, like most of the products that SunGard offers, seems to be about as user-friendly as Banner ;-) and it costs a lot of money. AdvisorTrac can be used for appointment scheduling and appointment tracking. Unfortunately, AdvisorTrac was not originally created with academic advising in mind. It’s a scheduling platform that has “advisor” in its name and is thus an industry leader. This is mostly due to the extremely empty sphere that is the world of academic advising management systems.
I would love to have an academic advising system that is extremely functional, user-friendly and aesthetically appealing. Something like Survs, Flickr, or anything from 37signals, but for academic advisors.
At the recent NACADA National Conference, Joshua Barron, a super tech savvy advising colleague, debuted an open source academic advising management system. I wasn’t able to attend the conference, but it turns out that Joshua is looking for collaborators for this new system.
My dream academic advising system would include: integration with university student information system, note taking, built in credit articulation, appointment scheduling, assessment functionality, degree audits, future course planning/forecasting, and more!
Basically, I am fed up with paper-based advising systems. And, please note that document management is not the solution. Scanning in a bunch of paper files is not my idea of high-tech.
Here are some notes regarding the system that Joshua presented at NACADA:
I will be giving the keynote speech for the Oklahoma ACademic ADvising Association (OACADA) Fall Conference in Broken Arrow, Oklahoma next month. The conference theme is “Using Technology to Navigate Student Success” and I think that it provides a terrific continuation to the academic advising technology conversations that came out of the NACADA Technology Seminar. In addition to the keynote address, I will be facilitating a question and answer session in the afternoon.
One of the most successful components of the NACADA Technology Seminar was the use of Twitter amongst the seminar attendees. Every tweet for the event was tagged with this hashtag: #nacadatech09. The hashtag allowed us to aggregate all tagged tweets into the NACADA Tech website via a widget from monitter.com.
This year, due to a multitude of financial issues, a lot of NACADA members will most likely not be able to attend the NACADA Annual Conference in San Antonio, Texas.
The following hashtag has been “created” to enable non-attendees the opportunity to virtually follow the action in San Antonio: #nacada09
How can you participate as either a NACADA Annual Conference Tweeter or as a virtual follower?
Academic advisors tend to get cold sweats over this type of thing. Fortunately, the institution where I work has a pretty solid degree audit system that is bulwarked by a solid system of humans. Class substitutions and transfer course equivalencies are part of my daily routine. Plus, I have my abacus at the ready in case of emergencies.
The investigation began in the wake of a degree scandal at the University in which Heather Bresch, Gov. Joe Manchin’s daughter, was inappropriately awarded an Executive Master’s in Business Administration degree.
Along with Bresch’s degree, AACRAO Consulting found that 27 students in the WVU College of Business and Economics, and 261 additional undergraduate degrees either fell short of credits or had other discrepancies.
Degree requirement discrepancies stemmed from several sources, said Jonathan Cumming, assistant vice president of Graduate Education. The discrepancies originated because the records-keeping process was incomplete. Credit-hour deficiencies could also be due to errors in class substitutions or mistakes made in recording transfer credits.
The mission of AACRAO Consulting’s work at WVU is to “provide professional development, guidelines and voluntary standards to be used by higher education officials regarding the best practices in records management, admissions, enrollment management, administrative information technology and student services,” according to the final report.
The final report from AACRAO Consulting is quite lengthy but it’s worth reading as it provides a lot of insights into what went wrong at WVU. The Registrar’s position at WVU was probably fast-tracked at light speed. The position description is already online! One of the requirements for the position is that your degree cannot be one of the 288….just kidding ;-)
Lastly, I wanted to point out this quote from the AACRAO Consulting report: “Many faculty find the Banner system difficult to use, instead opting to keep records in paper form.”
SunGard Higher Education, ARE YOU LISTENING? The interface for Banner is horrendous. I would say that it’s horrible, but I don’t want to insult horrible! Let it be known that if anyone can create an interface/system that does what Banner does, and is actually friendly to humans, the higher education institutions of the world will grant you immortality and a cash prize!