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Normalizing the Cutting Edge
November 30, 2011 - 7:30pm

Brene Brown's talk on vulnerability resonates with me for a variety of reasons. My blog posts at my personal site generally have a bit of vulnerability in them. Being vulnerable in professional spaces is something that I have explored in-person and in online conversations. However, vulnerability is difficult to maintain when you are on a deadline or you just don't feel like sharing a bit of yourself in a blog post. In the spirit of being more vulnerable, here is me sharing a little more... 

A recent email conversation with a professional colleague (we've known each other for quite some time via social networks) led me down some introspective pathways that made me question the audience for whom I am writing this Student Affairs and Technology blog. I've always considered this IHE blog to be a kind of professional workbench of sorts. I get to tinker, experiment, build, destroy, create, question, critique, and share ideas. It's my sandbox sans Tonka trucks.

The aforementioned email called me out for using tech speak without defining it or of coming across as condescending. I have always struggled with this aspect of my blogging style. Epiphanies rarely make scheduled visits. After re-reading the email (for the 10th time or so), I realized why I write the way I do on this blog. It's not entirely easy to say this, but I don't see myself as a teacher when I write for IHE. The realization makes me feel ill in a way. My masters degree is in education after all. How did I get to this point? I think it has to do with the fact that Student Affairs and Technology has been my "thing" for a very long time. It's personal and professional. When I wrote this post about Student Affairs and Twitter, I was teaching. When I wrote about hashtags and backchannels in 2009, I was teaching. In 2008, when I made a virtual appeal for student affairs to get more technical and to "boldly go," I was mixing attitude, teaching, and some serious emotion. I am not sure if I would make it as a fulltime teacher. I get bored with going over the same stuff year after year after year. I have friends who have this ability. They can share the basics of technology over and over and over again. My skills reside in information curation and in being able to meld the cutting edge into spaces where it can be most impactful. My words are supremely techie at times. My attitude can be brazen and overtly nerdy. I want to normalize the cutting edge.

As a self-identified "Student Affairs Pro without a campus", I suppose my strengths (as identified via the StrengthsQuest assessment) have something to do with how I am wired (how quaint, really, can't I be wireless?). According to SQ, my strengths are: strategic, ideation, maximizer, individualization, and intellection. With this blog, I am trying to nudge the conversation about student affairs and technology past the basics and into a more advanced place. Feeling like an outlier is the norm for me. My consulting business has thrived because I exist in a niche that probably won't be fully realized for several years. When the CAS Standards list Technology and Communications as functional areas in student affairs, that will be a tremendous moment.

If I use "techie" words that you don't understand, that's okay. Swim in the dissonance of not knowing for a little bit. My own technical expertise has often come about as a result of extreme troubleshooting. Google is seriously my best friend. If you still need help, that's okay. Drop a comment and I'll get back to you ASAP. I have no issue with questions or concerns. Sometimes in my blog posts I won't give you the answers straightaway. I take umbrage when people don't take time to try to figure things out. I know we're busy, but with technology, so much learning takes place via trial and error. None of us were born with an innate ability to use technology. I'm a farm kid from Iowa. Cornfields and gravel roads were my story until I was 18. Troubleshooting is part of my core identity. Inquisitiveness is woven throughout my lifelong journey as a student affairs "techie." What's your story?

Do you tweet? Let's connect. Follow me on Twitter.

 

 

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