Social Media Is No Longer Just an Option

The importance of digital fluency

March 28, 2017

When I first read Isabella Villacampa's tweet about a presentation for this year's annual NASPA Annual Conference, I shook my head. I was reminded of a blog post that I wrote 11 years ago when I expressed frustration that technology in student affairs was always referred to as “an emerging discussion.”


Upon further reflection, I realized that Villacampa's tweet represented the ever-present need for an ongoing discussion about social media use within the student affairs profession.

While social media has been used for strategic communications, community building, marketing, and engagement by multitudes of student affairs practitioners, there still exist wide swaths of practitioners (and graduate programs) where digital engagement is still seen as just an option.

Hence the importance of the particular framing of social media for that particular conference presentation. Notice the inclusion of Snapchat as part of the conversation. That's important as it speaks to a particular digital channel that seems to cause quite a bit of consternation for certain higher education professionals.

It's a good thing that social media presentations happen at national conferences. Social media apps, sites, and channels continue to evolve seemingly on a daily basis. It's always a moving target. However, each presentation attended, app downloaded, and experiment taken leads to a deeper level of digital fluency. Learning is oftentimes a scaffolded experience. Learning bit by bit, level by level.

One of the advanced outcomes within the NASPA/ACPA professional competency on technology is about digital communications:

“Provide leadership for the seamless integration of social media and other digital communications with broader educational, customer service, marketing, and community engagement efforts that communicate and develop dialogue and community around shared common institutional values.”


The only way the profession will become more advanced in this area is by way of intentional learning and practice. Kudos to Villacampa for continuing the necessary push to keep things progressing with not just technology competency for student affairs, but to also advance digital engagement fluency as a necessity within the field.


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