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Starting a New Chapter

by on November 15, 2011

I am so very pleased that Region II is launching this new Blog initiative. This is part of our goal to expand the ways in which we network and communicate across the Region. In fact, as I reflect on communication it is striking to me how it has changed so quickly and dramatically over recent years. While on one hand it is great that we have so many new outlets to use to facilitate communication there are also new challenges to us as a profession. On the positive side, certainly the speed and variety of ways that we can communicate with our students and between ourselves has opened numerous opportunities for expanded creativity and student development. The use of social media has created a whole new world. The new strategies for connecting with students, even well before they arrive on our campuses, has enormous potential to build opportunities for engagement, information exchange, and student retention.

It also makes me wonder about the impact on the nature of our work as it relates to community development, interpersonal skills development, information overload. How many of us have actually thought through the transformative nature that these new social media channels are having on the student experience? While we may be struggling to keep up with the pace of the new technologies….Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare, Yelp, the list goes on and on are we also considering the “social” side of the technology?

The Regional Advisory Board and I have made a commitment to increase our communication with the region and to strengthen opportunities for professional networking. Our interest of course was to ensure that we increased the communication that was both coming out from the Advisory Board and the communication that was coming in from our membership. To that end we have solicited feedback through two surveys. Both surveys came back with a few consistent themes: more opportunities to connect and more opportunities for local one day programs.

As a result we have offered programs in multiple locations throughout the Region for Careers in Student Affairs month and have successfully launched MetroMoments in several sites across the Region. The level of participation has been terrific! In addition to offering these programs in the “real world” we are also trying to advance the goals of networking and professional development in a virtual context.

In this inaugural blog I am putting forth some thoughts for your collective consideration. How are these new media channels providing new opportunities and challenges? Are our conversations and policies keeping pace with new forms of misbehavior? Cyberbullying, cyberstalking, first amendment, academic integrity, privacy, access for the disabled, cyberslacking and copyrighting and intellectual property issues are just a few of the new things we are called to think about and respond to. In addition to these new areas to explore we are also seeing extraordinary demands being placed upon us in terms of the communication expectations from multiple stakeholders (e.g. parents, students, Department of Education, colleagues etc.) that are intertwined with our work. Is it really ever possible to be offline?

I am also struck by the many new ways we have available to creatively engage our students and bridge time and space. We have so many new ways to ensure that students will have access to information, assistance and to “connect” with others like never before. How is this new communication environment impacting the social milieu of our campuses?
What are your thoughts on our changing professional environment as it relates to communication and the new media? I would love to receive your thoughts on these and other aspects of communication, social networking and the profession. What have you found exciting or challenging?

Dr. Laura Wankel
Vice President of Student Affairs, Seton Hall University
NASPA II Regional Vice President


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