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#SAtech profile: @JoeSabado - Part 2
May 9, 2011 - 9:00pm

Here is part 2 of my interview with Joe Sabado. Joe shared a wealth of information about student affairs units and social media. And, the ever-present issue of "technology competency" is analyzed with a tremendous amount of thoughtfulness:

Social media is being implemented by student affairs divisions all over the US. How is social media being used at UC Santa Barbara?

SM is used by numerous departments for different purposes including: marketing, communicating with various audiences (students, alums, prospective students) as well as for course work. Here are some examples:

What were some of the challenges to implementing the strategic use of
social media at your institution?

While many departments use social media to some degree, there are still hesitations by some to use it for various reasons, depending on their perspectives. For example:

  • For IT security admins - social media is seen as additional risks as SM sites introduce another point of entry for viruses, phishing attacks and wasted network bandwith.
  • For managers - not clear about the resources, effort required and what are the benefits. Fear of policy violations like FERPA, HIPAA or disclosure of confidential info are also concerns.
  • Not a top priority relative to the bigger projects/issues on campus like dealing with budget cuts, consolidation of systems (financial, student info systems)

In general, I think departments see the value of using social media, but need more education on strategies, tactics, use of tools and assessments and how social media can be appropriately used for their business needs. My personal goal is to create a culture/community that embraces the use of social media at UCSB. This includes open, honest continuing discussions about the benefits and risks of using social media as well as educating staff on the use of sm tools. To start this discussion, I presented to about 90 UCSB staff from 60 departments/programs on Using Social Media.

Why do you feel that social media is important?

Social media, per Pew Research, is a big part of our customers (prospective students, students, parents, alumni) lives and if we are to engage/communicate with them, we need to be where they are and understand how and why they use social media. Social media represents a new way of thinking and doing business with our customers. Our customers, primarily Millennials (18-29 yrs old), grew up in the world of internet, including social media, and we need to recognize that this is the world and for those that try to impose their pre-social media views on our customers, it's a losing proposition. There's no certainty that major platforms like facebook will last forever, but the real-time, fast-paced, interactive nature of social media I think are here to stay and will continue to evolve and so as SA pros, we must learn to embrace it now so as not to be left behind as social media continues to evolve.

Where do you go for professional development?

Social media - I have not attended a professional conference since 2007 due to budgetary constraints so I've relied on social media (Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, Slideshare, blogs, Diigo, Delicious, Higher Ed Live, Student Affairs Live) to learn new info.

What social media has done for me is that it has introduced me to what other student affairs professionals and technologists are currently doing and what the trends are I should be aware of.

I'm also constantly reading technical, student affairs and leadership materials online and books.

Are you a member of any Student Affairs Associations?

Yes - since October 2010. I’m now serving as NASPA Region VI Tech KC Rep.

Where else do you go for knowledge and support?

Colleagues, books, social media, several mentors in student affairs.

Do you think that technology should be a competency for student affairs pros? Why? How?

I don’t have an advanced degree in Student Personnel so I’m not sure if I’m qualified enough to answer this question, but I can provide my observation as someone who has been in student affairs for nearly 20 years in technical/student service roles.

I reviewed the ACPA/NASPA Professional Competency Areas for Student Affairs Practitioners and read your blog post and comments at (Technology needs to be more than a "thread") to have some perspective on this question. The document above (ACPA/NASPA Prof Competency….) states that technology as a thread is "the appropriate identification and use of technology resources in one’s work." I read through the entire document including all areas of competency and what really stands out to me is that the roles of student affairs professionals seems to be exclusively defined as end users. There are little/no mentions of the role/participation of student affairs professionals in the integration/design/development/procurement of technology solutions. While developers can write code, and vendors can deliver packaged systems, ultimately, SA pros that deal with students and other customers in whatever capacity can best define their needs and how technology can be used. While I don’t expect SA pros to be able to code, develop databases, manage networks as these skill sets require years to master, I do think student affairs professionals need to be able to articulate their business processes at some level as they relate to SA-related (leadership, identity dev, multiculturalism, etc) theories and practices.

Even if an SA pro is to use an existing application, they still need to be able to customize the application to fit their business processes/culture or adjust their business processes to the functionality offered by the application. If a new application is being designed, SA pros must be active in the development process and define the business requirements the system is being developed for.

If technology is to remain as a thread, then I think there should be more emphasis in the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of technologies for each area of competency beyond the role of end users. Regardless if technology solutions are provided by campus IT departments, vendors, free social media platforms, SA pros must have some levels of understanding as to not only how to use these solutions but also identify and communicate the reasons behind the use of these technology systems. To be able to do this, there has to be some expected levels of competency specific not only to technology use but in the design/development/procurement of technology solutions as well.

In addition to his professional duties at UCSB, Joe even has time for a blog. Check it out at

Do you tweet? Let's connect. Follow me on Twitter.


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