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Technology needs to be more than a "thread"
July 29, 2010 - 4:30am

If you have worked in student affairs since 2008, you are most likely aware of the ongoing conversations around the unification of ACPA and NASPA into a consolidated association for student affairs professionals. The process began in 2008 and has literally been a riveting topic of interest for practitioners. As a member of both associations, I have been fascinated by the unification progression.

This week, a joint publication titled "Professional Competency Areas for Student Affairs Practitioners" [PDF] was released. Its purpose was to "establish one set of professional competency areas that both associations would endorse for the broad field of student affairs." A unified set of competencies brings the two associations closer together and gives practitioners a guide for the future of the profession.

As a student affairs techie, I immediately perused the document for any mentions of technology. On page six, I came upon the "competency area threads" section. The "threads" are not meant to be separate competencies but instead serve as "elements of each competency area." The competencies within the document are divided into "basic, intermediate, and advanced levels." The technology thread was defined as "the appropriate identification and use of technology resources in one’s work."

I really wish that technology had been listed as a competency. The leadership of NASPA and ACPA know that I truly care about the future of both associations. Sometimes when you care about something, you have to provide gentle nudges in order for movement to occur.

Recently, I asked my Twitter followers if technology competency was embedded in their student affairs graduate curriculum. The majority of responders told me that technology was not present in their program. Technology can only be woven into a comprehensive set of professional competencies if practitioners have previously been trained during their graduate programs. Technology cannot be a thread if the spool is empty. In addition to being present in graduate curricula, technology needs to be emphasized and presented in association-sponsored professional development opportunities. I have not seen very many technology-themed student affairs workshops, webinars, institutes, etc.

Technology needs to be a competency for student affairs practitioners. I feel that the majority of student affairs folks have a very basic level of technology competency. I truly hope that we can look towards a future where intermediate and advanced technology competency are de rigueur.

What do you think? Should technology be a thread, a competency, or something else entirely?

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