Southern New Hampshire University (SNHU) was the only higher education institution to be included in Fast Company's 2012 list of "The World's 50 Most Innovative Companies." Whether or not that is a "good thing" or a "bad thing" is a matter of debate. SNHU's inclusion does showcase the visionary leadership of their president, especially when it comes to their goal of becoming "the country’s biggest online not-for-profit education system."
How does this relate to Student Affairs? Well, when I first wrote about whether we were ready to support online learners, the response via the comments was fairly mixed. So what happens when a non-profit institution like SNHU decides that they are going to have tens of thousands of online-only students? Where does Student Affairs fit into that mix? Are there even student affairs graduate programs that are preparing practitioners to practice in this type of space?
Who will be engaging in Student Affairs work within SNHU's online learning space? "Customer service" is mentioned in the Fast Company piece. I didn't see anything about student development or engagement. Brick-and-mortar educational spaces are not going to disappear. However, online has emerged as a viable place for learning and degree attainment. If we are preparing our future Student Affairs practitioners for brick-based careers, what happens when our students are digital?
Last month, I asked "where are the radical (student affairs) practitioners," perhaps I should ask a parallel question: Who is relentlessly reinventing Student Affairs (in the context of online learning)?
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