According to the hosts of SXSW, the conferences and festivals that take place in March in Austin, Texas are all about "fostering creative and professional growth" and that SXSW is "the premier destination for discovery." Sounds pretty good to me. While those who work in higher education have often made the trek to SXSW, one group of professionals has been relatively absent. At last year's event, there were very few sessions by student affairs professionals. The current slate of panels in the "panel picker" include about the same amount of student affairs oriented content. SXSW panels are selected based on a weighting system. Selection comes from 30% staff, 30% public votes, and 40% via the SXSW advisory board. Digging around the panel search page, I managed to discover 3 student affairs sessions at SXSW. Take a look and feel free to vote if you think they offer valuable content to our profession:
- Effective Social Media Presence in Higher Ed: Admissions and recruitment folks should pay attention to this session. Want to know "what are the best social media tactics to reach prospective students"? This is your session. It's being put on by Deborah Maue - Depaul University, Liz Gross - University of Wisconsin -- Waukesha, and Ed Cabellon - Bridgewater State University. They are superb when it comes to offering up concrete examples of social media use in higher education.
- #NoFailWhale: Tweet More, Drop Out Less: Certainly one of the more creative titles, this session is all about Twitter and engagement. This will most-likely be Rey Junco's (Lock Haven University) second go-round at SXSW. The claim that there is "compelling data" that shows that Twitter can "reduce the college dropout rate after the first year" should ping anyone who works in student affairs retention programs. I know I'm curious.
- Alternative Professional Development Networks: Full disclosure with this one: I was asked by Sue Beckingham - Sheffield Hallam University, Laura Pasquini - University of North Texas, and Jeff Jackson - University of Texas Health Science Center to be a co-panelist on this session on alternative forms of professional development (hashtag: #AltProDev). Our session is pretty straightforward. Professional development funds are being slashed at most institutions. The future of higher education / student affairs is all about #AltProDev. While we realize that it will be exceedingly ironic for our panel to present alternatives to events like SXSW (whilst presenting at SXSW), we strongly believe in our message about personal learning networks (PLNs). We will share how higher education institutions can utilize PLNs for their campus community.
If you get a free moment during the next few days, I know that all of us would appreciate a "thumbs up" vote on the SXSW panel picker system. Student Affairs can have an impact at SXSW with your support.
Do you know of any other student affairs related sessions at SXSW? Please feel free to add a link in the comments. Will you be attending SXSW in 2012?
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