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Do we need a technology in student affairs book?
January 13, 2011 - 8:45pm

"The literature and research on the use of technology in student affairs is still very limited." This is the lead sentence in the description from one of the few student affairs technology texts that I know about. This particular issue of a New Directions in Student Services journal published in 2006 has been the go-to technology "book" for a lot of student affairs practitioners. While several books have been published that can be adopted/adapted for student affairs professionals, a definitive text on "#satech" seems remarkably absent.

When I was in graduate school, I read books on student development theory, multicultural competency, leadership development, assessment/evaluation, legal issues in higher education, and the history of higher education. Technology in student affairs was largely absent from my program. In fact, I even created a technology workshop series "back in the day" to try to fill this knowledge gap.

I've been mulling over the idea of what a technology in student affairs book would look like in 2011. One of the central tenets of the 2006 journal was that technology innovations occur so rapidly that covering specific technologies would cause the material to age far faster than other student affairs texts. Hence, it becomes necessary to talk about the "big picture" so that things don't become out-of-date too rapidly for a publisher.

Building upon the framework of the original journal's contents, I would suggest that the following topical areas be included in a technology in student affairs book:

  • History of Student Affairs and Technology: We have to know where we've been in order to know where we are and where we want to be.
  • Senior Student Affairs Officers and Technology: What do SSAO's need to know about technology in order to effectively lead their units.
  • Management of Technology in Student Affairs: Do we engage in IT purchases? Negotiate contracts with IT vendors? Student Affairs practitioners are often deeply involved in these processes and yet we rarely talk about this area in our professional circles.
  • Student Affairs and Communications / Marketing: An emerging area in certain student affairs divisions...this section would include social media, digital publishing, and marketing best practices.
  • Web Accessibility and Student Affairs: A critical piece of the student affairs technology pie. There are far too many inaccessible web sites / services. We can do better.
  • Online Student Services and Distance Learners: How do we serve our students when it comes to web-based services? What are the best practices?
  • Legal / Policy Issues and Student Affairs Technology: This would include relevant case law and policy guidelines. We need to know a framework that outlines the best practices in this area for our field.
  • Collaboration - Ed Tech and Student Affairs: Educational technologist do amazing things within the context of academic affairs and teaching. We need to engage in more collaborative efforts with the educational technology crowd.
  • Student Affairs Technology and Assessment: Assessment is instrumental in measuring the successes of our programs. Outcome, goals, strategies, funding, etc. are all linked to assessment.

I realize that we may have missed our window of opportunity for a new technology in student affairs book. It's 2011 and publishing is markedly different than ever before. A student affairs technology book would of course have to be published in both paper and ebook formats. A companion blog would most-likely be associated with the book.

I think that in 2011, it is no longer acceptable for student affairs practitioners to simply shrug their shoulders and say that technology is not part of our professional competencies. If technology is a thread, then it is far too small and fine. Technology plays such a critical role in everything that we do as student affairs professionals. We need a book. A core competency text that can be used in graduate programs, administrative meetings, and team retreats.

What do you think? Do we need a technology in student affairs book? What else would you include?

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