Efficiency is important. Being more efficient usually means that you have more time. Having more time generally allows additional space for innovation, planning, conversing, thinking, creativity, etc. Technology can be instrumental in making us more efficient. For Student Affairs professionals, efficiency is something that we can usually increase. Proficiency with technology leads to enhanced efficiency which helps us in creating better programs, increasing data flow, and utilizing systems creatively. When Jeff Lail tweeted at me that "we" (I read it as Student Affairs) needed a blog post about technology and efficiency, I literally felt his pain.
@EricStoller we need a blog post on how much time is wasted by not understanding technology (double work, etc).You're the man for this.— Jeff Lail (@jefflail) December 20, 2011
Because technology proficiency isn't something that is generally measured or assessed prior to hiring (and this isn't just limited to Student Affairs), it's no wonder that efficiency often falls short of its potential in Student Affairs. I recently spoke with a first-year cohort of Student Affairs graduate students. When I asked them where they were learning about "#SAtech," they didn't have much to say. To make my query a bit more challenging, I made it clear that reading this blog was a given. I wanted them to share what they were reading, which classes were #SAtech-heavy, and who they were talking to about how technology impacts Student Affairs. Unfortunately, technology was not strategically present in their program.
We have a technology competency problem in Student Affairs. This leads to a lack of proficiency. Efficiency suffers because of this issue. I realize that pointing out the problem might make some readers label me as "Captain Obvious" while others shrug with indifference or a sense that "it's not as bad as he makes it sound." Well, without core competencies that address technology and student affairs, we are staggering ourselves further and further behind other areas in higher education.
When I was working as an academic advisor, I engaged in various "techficiencies." My computer's ram was upgraded. I installed XOBNI so that I could efficiently search for resources buried away in long forgotten Outlook folders. Even the use of my left hand and the various keyboard shortcuts that it allowed was all part of my method of being more efficient. Being more efficient as an academic advisor meant that I had more time to work with my advisees. Less time wasted on a lack of knowledge about various technologies and more time spent working with my students...it's really a simple formula. Competency --> Proficiency --> Efficiency.
At the end of each day, experiencing various technologies as efficiently as possible means that we get more time to create better programs, engage in more advanced assessment, enhance our communications efforts, build community, and match what we do with the mission of our institution.
What are you doing to be more efficient with technology within your position, unit, or Student Affairs division?
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