Archive for April, 2013

Reflections on NASPA ’13

The NASPA Technology Knowledge Community (KC) enjoyed an exciting and fruitful opportunity to meet, connect with and learn from new and returning KC members. Our team is gearing up for an exciting year ahead, and the NASPA Annual Conference in Orlando, Florida was one of our first opportunities to share and pilot ideas.

In reflecting on our time in Orlando, thoughts and questions emerged around what technology was all about at NASPA 2013, and what it was for. What were the issues, challenges and ideas being discussed at the conference, and how was technology being used to support a better conference experience?

What’s technology all about?

The Tech KC sponsored five technology unsessions at this year’s conference, discussing online communities, digital identity development, technology in student affairs graduate programs and managing information overload.

Throughout the many engaging conversations sparked by these unsessions, two important questions emerged:

How do we teach technology?

Recognizing the far from emerging trend in the use of technology in student affairs, many conference discussions centered on how to teach important skills in technology to emerging professionals while also identifying innovative ways for all professionals to continuously develop skills and gain new knowledge. The ‘how’ quickly became a broader conversation about the ‘what’ of technology we’re teaching. Are there core competencies in technology we should be teaching and, if so, what are they? The Tech KC has started documenting some potential competencies in a recent blog post. Have a look and share your feedback with us here.

How do we know the technology we’re using is working?

This isn’t as simple as turning it off and turning it back on again. Technology has offered and expanded new ways of teaching, but, at its core, remains the fundamental question of whether or not these new tools help or hinder the learning process. We use technology in assessment, but how do we assess the technology?

        What are we using technology for?

The conference in Orlando featured a Social Media Hub, a space that served as a venue for the KC sponsored Tweet Up as well as a gathering place throughout the event.  This physical space served as an important reminder of the power of connection and conversation in the digital realm, serving as an in person reminder that there is always space to spark and share ideas – if only we can find and fill it.

An excellent example of the merging of these two often starkly divided spaces began with a single Facebook status update and culminated in an engaging Tweet Up activity. Out of curiosity, and more than a little hopefulness, I shared a question on my Facebook profile a couple of weeks before the conference. Was anyone planning on recreating the NASPA BINGO game that was such a hit the year before? In yet another nod to the reach and power of technology, my single status update created #NASPA13 BINGO, with special thanks to Stephanie Wintling, Deb Schmidt-Rogers  & Matthew Brinton, as well as Torry Bruce for sparking the idea at last year’s conference. NASPA BINGO , the tweet up and all of the random spaces and places for connecting during the conference emulated the enduring opportunities for professionals to meet and share in the digital space.

NASPA 2013 was an important first step for some and middle of the road for others as we travel together in charting a new course in student affairs technology. Now that the dust has settled and the temperatures are (unfortunately and still) a little bit cooler, what ‘tech lessons’ from the conference are you using back at your home institution? Where will you go from here?

–          Lisa Endersby is the Student Development Coordinator with the Student Experience Centre at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology (UOIT) in Ontario, Canada. She is also working to connect and engage NASPA technology friends and fans in her role supporting Community Engagement in the NASPA Technology Knowledge Community.


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#SATech Tweets of the Week!

Getting behind on your twitter feed? Here are some of the top #SATech Tweets for the week of April 22nd!

Kathy Sisneros@sisneros623 8h

A Great Guide on Teaching Students about Digital Footprint…do you know yours?  #satech #edutech

Joe Sabado@JoeSabado 24 Apr

Some thoughts on Technology in Student Affairs Course.  #satech

Bruce Mann@brucebmann 24 Apr

Another great resource for design/image/presentation inspiration is –@niiceapp – An inspiration search engine #salive #satech

Laura Pasquini@laurapasquini 22 Apr

For my #advtech & #satech tweeps: How Can I Survive a Job that Makes Me Use Outdated Technology?  asks @lifehacker

And don’t forget to tune in next week for a special discussion!

SATechTalk@SATechTalk 24 Apr

Join #satech chat next week for a special #sareads edition discussing “Alone Together!” Same bat-time, same bat-hashtag…or something.

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Proposed Student Affairs Grad Technology Competencies

Hello everyone!

Over the last few weeks, NASPA TKC Grad Liaisons Kevin Vailliere and Ryan Michaud have been working very diligently to create some draft technology competencies for Students Affairs graduate students. Please take some time to read through their proposal!

A new student affairs professional should be able to…


Put forth a positive, professional identity on social media sites
Manage a departmental, divisional, or program-based blog
Create an engaging PowerPoint (or similar form of media) presentation
Operate Microsoft Office and similar programs in an efficient manner
Operate Adobe Acrobat, especially when using PDFs
Create and manage strong passwords
Teach colleagues how to use technologies mentioned above


Code in basic languages such as HTML, CSS, or JavaScript
Utilize advanced features in standard computer software such as Microsoft
Excel, Publisher, and Word
Create interactive, engaging social media/marketing campaigns
Operate design programs such as InDesign and Adobe PhotoShop
Implement new technology (e.g. tablets and SMART Boards) into educational
and instructional settings
Stay abreast of new trends in technology and social media
Teach colleagues how to use technologies mentioned above


Code in advanced languages such as Perl or C++
Create a viable social media presence for departments or divisions that (a)
engages students and interested parties in an appropriate manner (b) creates
content and (c) keeps interested parties in touch with events and relevant
Use design programs to create aesthetically pleasing flyers, advertisements, and
images that convey important information and enhance departmental reputation
Create a university-approved app for iOS or Android
Teach colleagues how to use technologies mentioned above

Things to include:
Other social media presence
SEO (and SEM)/Marketing tactics (hire marketing firm?)
Internet browser usage? (i.e. Chrome vs. Firefox vs. IE)

If you have comments, questions, or other feedback about this proposal, please send it to or

We are VERY excited about the possibility of having grad competencies in technology, and look forward to hearing your thoughts!

– Ryan Michaud is a graduate student at the University of Maine; Kevin Vailliere is a graduate student at Texas A&M University



#SATech Tweets of the Week

Lisa Endersby@lmendersby

Educational Institutions are Increasingly Using Social Media to Reach Donors, Alumni and Students  #satech #sachat

Joe Sabado@JoeSabado

Conference privileges – really good stuff here by @MarciKWalton #sachat #satech …

Ed Cabellon@EdCabellon

For the #SAtechOR croud: the @bridgestateu Student Affairs Social Media Handbook: … #satech

Wimer Alberto@WimerAlberto

6 Ways to Spring Clean Your #LinkedIn Profile  #satech

Christopher Conzen@clconzen

Text Messages Can Increase Enrollment of Low-Income Students –  #SATech

See an awesome #SATech tweet you’d like to share? Tweet @elisabeth_poling!

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Conceptboard (@ConceptboardApp) is an on-line, open-source collaboration tool that gives users the ability to share and discuss documents, provide feedback, develop ideas, and organize projects and meetings all in real-time with colleagues or students. The program, based in Stuttgart, Germany, provides users with a nearly infinite amount of space on a virtual whiteboard to add content, comments and more. Dan Toma (@toma_dan), Vice President of Sales and Marketing with Conceptboard, adds, “(Conceptboard’s) usability is limited only by the imagination of the users.” When asked about how Conceptboard compares to other online collaboration software, Toma notes two main advantages. “First of all it makes the users think in a non-linear way and second of all it engages them in virtual team management.

I am currently using Conceptboard to collaborate with a co-presenter on a workshop to be presented at the NASPA conference in Phoenix this March. Lisa Endersby (@lmendersby) is a Student Experience Advisor at the University of Ontario Institute of Technology, and our workshop discusses the need to create a more collaborative and connected campus. “The information and ideas we work with on Conceptboard come alive – making research and writing a much more dynamic, engaging process,” says Endersby. “I’m impressed,” she continues, “by the use of Conceptboard in collaborating on research projects as a single space to house multiple ideas and pieces of information.” The software allows us to communicate quickly and easily, live and in real-time, even though we are separated by several times zones and an international boarder. And this is exactly was Conceptboard was created to do. According to Toma, “We are all aware that in today’s ever changing global environment, the need for professionals that can ‘think outside of the box’ in a non-linear way and be able to manage, at the same time, cross cultural and cross continental virtual teams is greater than ever.”


Another gem of the program is its adaptive nature. “I appreciate that concept board can appeal to many diverse learning and communication styles,” Endersby noted.  “I often find myself wanting to see the big(ger) picture or hear myself ask ‘can you show me?’ and concept board allows those I’m working with to do both.” Users of different abilities are able to use Conceptboard in a variety of ways, and mold their experience to what they need out of the program. It is a game changer when looking at the development of collaborative campuses and projects. Endersby explains, “Working collaboratively becomes more effective and efficient when there is a space to share & discuss ideas in real time that can also capitalize on our own strengths in learning and communicating.”

Basic users (open-source category) can create and share up to 25 boards. Plans with increased functionality are also available for small monthly fees, and the company is exploring an educational licensing option that is currently in beta testing. Overall I find this software extremely helpful, and hope you will as well. Find out more at, and make sure to find the on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.  Keep the conversation going and share your favorite open-source programs on Twitter by using the hash tag #openoasis.

– Matt Brinton, TKC Chair

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VolunteerSpot: Doing good just got easier!

Today’s featured open source technology is VolunteerSpot (@VolunteerSpot). I was preparing to recruit a large number of volunteers for our annual homecoming week festivities and was killing myself working on developing a shared Google spreadsheet that had all of the positions I needed to fill and then an accompanying email listing those opportunities to be sent to campus. I told myself there had to be a better way. I typed “free volunteer management” into a Google search and the first result was VolunteerSpot. And from there, the rest is history. This is one of my top five favorite finds so far in 2012 and I wanted to find out more about what makes the online product so great. So I reached out to Founder and CEO Karen Bantuveris (@VSpotMom) to get the scoop.

Matt Brinton (MB): What is your vision for how VolunteerSpot can best be utilized?

Karen Bantuveris (KB): With more than 1.4 million volunteers and growing, VolunteerSpot is a simple online coordination tool that makes it easy for ANYONE to quickly organize service.  We save teachers, administrators and grass roots volunteer leaders valuable time in scheduling, signing up and reminding volunteers – while doing away with frustrating ‘reply-all’ email chains, Excel spreadsheets and paper signup sheets.  By making it easier to sign up to help, more people show up – up to 20% more!

MB: Have you worked with any higher education institutions so far?

KB: We’ve proudly supported groups at higher education institutions across the country – from Campus Kitchen – an anti-hunger program at U Mass in Boston, to organizing exam proctors at the University of Texas in Austin, to sports concessions and tournament support at Fresno State in Ca., to hack-a-thon invitational conferences for computer science students at Kennesaw State in Atlanta.

MB: What type of feedback have you received?

Recently we surveyed our VolunteerSpot organizers and learned that 99% would refer VolunteerSpot to a friend or colleague!  We’re very proud and humbled by their feedback.  When you save someone valuable time AND help them do good, it’s a win/win!  Our users are also very helpful with suggestions for improvement about what would make their experience even better, we’ve got some great new features planned in the coming year.

MB: What is the best way for a new user to get to know your product/service?

KB: VolunteerSpot was designed with tech-timid users in mind. If you can shop online, you can successfully plan activities and signup to volunteer.  Please try it out first as a volunteer would experience the website – Go to and click “Try Our Demo” and choose a sample signup. Like what you see? Create an account and get planning!

MB: Do you have any best practices from other users that you can share?

KB: When you ask for help, give people specific jobs and tasks to sign up for. Also include a few things to bring like food or supplies, so those who can’t show up can still participate. Invite volunteers to participate across multiple channels – directly via email, in an eNews blast, your website, facebook or Twitter. Ask for only the number of volunteers you need and be ready for them when they show up (they WILL show up, VolunteerSpot’s automated reminders help people keep their commitments.)  Make sure participants have a parking place and name tag on volunteer day! When you send a thank you note, include a few quick statistics about the impact of the volunteer’s work – e.g. the number of people fed, money raised or kids helped.  Send the notes soon after folks participate (via VolunteerSpot) so they consider coming back next time.

MB: I have seen some of the features and benefits on the website, but can you give me a quick rundown on what is free and what requires an upgrade?

Any activity organizer can quickly register for VolunteerSpot’s FREE service – it meets the needs of most groups and includes: 365 day calendar with easy planning wizard for shifts, jobs and supplies to bring; Participants sign up with a few clicks 24/7 – no account registration required; Quick multi-day copy; Automated email reminders; Easy smartphone signup and calendar sync; Print sign in sheets, calendar summaries and rosters, export data including basic hours; Send thank you notes; and one activity organizer

Premium service includes volunteer hours tracking reports, custom registration fields (e.g. to capture t-shirt size or group affiliation), and additional activity organizers (up to 10).  It’s priced at $4.99 – $29.99/month depending on the number of volunteers to make it easy for groups to afford the upgrade if they need it.  NASPA members can use promo code NASPA3 to get three months upgrade for the price of one, for any size group!

MB: What benefits do you believe that VolunteerSpot can have for higher education institutions?

KB: There are clear benefits to making it easy for more people to participate in service – volunteering makes a meaningful difference in the communities where our schools are resident, introduces students to new interests and career paths, powers many of our campus-life activities, and feels good!

Find out more at, and make sure to find the on Twitter (@VolunteerSpot), and Facebook (  Keep the conversation going and share your favorite open-source programs on Twitter by using the hash tag #openoasis.

– Matt Brinton, NASPA TKC Chair

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Juggling Social Media and Student Affairs

Last year I had the privilege of chairing my Department of Residence Life’s Marketing and Technology Committee. As a second year grad student fresh out of an ACUHO-I internship on marketing in Student Affairs, I was eager and excited for what was sure to be a challenging year. I had spent two and a half months learning everything under the sun about marketing plans, crafting messages for publications and press releases, and using social media as a communication tool. I just couldn’t wait to jump in and completely revamp every single thing we were doing. Well, as many of you can probably guess, this ended up being more daunting than I initially planned. There were so many questions left unanswered! Social media is, by nature, organic. With people tweeting, updating statuses, and posting in real time, there just didn’t seem like there was a way to plan or regulate every single message that goes out on our pages. How could we as professionals ensure that our online spaces were truly reflective of the beliefs and mission of our institutions? How could we craft intentional messages for our students, parents, and whoever else may stumble upon our plethora of pages, while still honoring the organic nature that so attracts students to social media in the first place? To answer these questions, I went all the way back to my marketing roots (established a whole three months before hand), did some research on what other schools were doing, and began to formulate an outline for what would best fit our department. We started with Facebook, as that was the social media most used by our students at the time, but the guidelines created could easily be applied to other media.

The first step in creating these guidelines for our staff was to accept the fact that we couldn’t actually regulate everything that went on our pages. Social media is a conversation, not a bulletin board, not a journal article, not a web page. We had to take a deep breath and allow the conversation to happen, just as we would if we were actually face to face with our students. This meant opening ourselves up to the possibility of criticism and negativity. Ultimately we came up with a very workable framework for our department that allowed us to balance social media best practices from the marketing world with our need to create some uniform messaging throughout our department.

Here is the final product:

Departmental Facebook Guidelines

1. General Guidelines

–      Maintain Confidentiality/Privacy- If you would not give out the information in a public forum, do not post it on a social media site. Remember FERPA guidelines.

–      Be Accurate- Make sure that you have all the facts before you post. Cite and link to sources when possible. (Ex. If you post housing info, link to the Housing webpage)

–      Be Authentic and Transparent- When you maintain a social media site with a departmental username, other users do not know you personally. They view what you post as coming from the department. Keep this in mind when posting content.  When addressing user concerns, mistakes, etc., be open and authentic in your responses. Use good customer service.

–      Be Timely and Consistent- regularly monitor your Facebook page. You should check content daily and post once per day (Monday-Friday).

–      Be Thoughtful- Be sure to think about what you are posting. If necessary, create a calendar and plan posts ahead of time. If you have a question about whether something is appropriate or not, ask your supervisor first.

–      Maintain a Respectful Environment- Users are free to discuss topics and disagree with one another, but they should be respectful of one another. Address issues that arise.

2. Account type: Please create a Facebook page instead of a Facebook profile for your area.

There are several reasons why a page is the preferred account type for Residence Life:

–   You can list multiple administrators

–   You can control content more easily- you can hide questionable content, control who “likes” the page, etc.

–   It is easier to pass control from year to year

–   Question and poll functions are useful

You should create one Facebook Page per traditional complex. The exception to this rule is a Living Learning Community, which should have a separate page.

If you currently have more accounts than this, or are using profiles instead of pages, you will have until January 1st to move content over to one page. A plan for doing so will be distributed to you.

3. Facebook Page administrators: The following individuals should be listed as administrators on your Facebook Page- Community Coordinator, Assistant Community Cooordinators, Assistant Director of First Year Experience.

The Assistant Director of the FYE will maintain Facebook Pages during the summer, will add appropriate new professional staff as administrators, and will post relevant welcome weekend information to pages.

Resident Assistants should not be added as administrators on pages. They should have the ability to post to the page from their own profile, but not have administrative access.

4. Who can post: RAs, professional staff, students, other campus organizations that would normally get approval to post flyers in the residence halls.

5. Who cannot post: Outside organizations who are soliciting, individuals using hate speech. If we would not let them place flyers in our buildings, they cannot post on our pages.

6. Mandatory content: Each page should include the following information.

  1. Link to either Upperclass or First Year Experience Facebook page
  2. Link to Residence Life website
  3. “Community Standards” for page- students, on-campus affiliates, off-campus affiliates

7. Negative comments: We must accept that we will sometimes have negative comments on our pages.

–   If the comment is offensive, a screenshot should be taken and it should be deleted by an administrator. There should also be some sort of follow up with that individual, either in person or via Facebook message or email. If the person is not a member of that community, they should be removed from the page.

–   If the comment is not offensive, it should be addressed publicly by an administrator.

–                      Example: Student posts “No one should ever move into XXXXX Hall. The rooms are disgusting

–          Administrator should reply on the page something like: “We’re sorry to hear that your room is not up to par. We are constantly working with Property Management to take care of the issues we are made aware of. We’d love to help! Why don’t you stop by our complex office or call the CC at X-XXXX to talk about your issue”

–          It is also a good idea to follow up personally by sending the student an email or talking with them.

–   It is important to always be transparent when using any type of social media. By addressing issues in the manner above, we show that we are aware of issues and are working on them to the best of our ability. If we delete comments like this, it makes students feel like we are trying to silence their complaints.

8. What to do when you make a mistake:

–   Be transparent and open. If it is misinformation, be sure to post the correct information, noting that you accidentally posted incorrect information previously so that those who saw the previous post will know that it was wrong

–   If you accidentally post something inappropriate, own it. Don’t just delete the post- someone will have seen it. Reply to the post with an apology or explanation, as appropriate.

9. What to post: Remember that with social media, it’s all about having a conversation with students. This is not just a virtual bulletin board. You can post about upcoming events, and info that they need to know, but that should not be the only thing you post. Here are some suggestions:

–          Event and program info

–          Important info students need to know (ex. links to break dining hours, housing sign up info, snow plowing lot closures, RA selection, etc.)

–          Links to news articles, especially if you ask a question to go with them (think Civic Engagement)

–          Links to videos (make sure they are appropriate and relevant)

–          Questions (ex. It’s a great day to outside! What’s your favorite quad activity?)

–          Pictures of programs and your buildings

–          Other interactive activities (ex. Res Hall Cribs- have students post pictures of their rooms, choose a winner)

–          Links to resources

10. When to post: Plan to post every work day, Monday- Friday, once per day. If this does not seem to meet the needs of your community, you can adjust the number of times/days of posting to do so. You will have to feel out which times of day will get the best feedback. Check your page throughout the day to be sure that any feedback you receive is appropriate.

11. Facebook Insights: Facebook provides each page with Insights, a tool that allows you to track the interactions you are having with your audience. Looking this over weekly will help you determine what content users respond to, what times of day get the most feedback, and more. Keep in mind that having a successful page is about more than the number of “likes” you get; it’s about the number of interactions.

The important things to remember when formulating guidelines are to create something that best fits the needs of your operation while incorporating best practices from marketing and communications professionals, and to treat the process like a conversation. If you do that, you will find that you can balance your departmental mission with the organic nature of social media.

–     Beth Poling is a Residence Hall Director at the University of New Hampshire (formally an Assistant Community Coordinator at the University of Maine), and the Publications Coordinator for the NASPA TKC

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