Technology and the SAPRO Conundrum

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Student Affairs Professionals are not simply required to keep up with the trends that shape their institutions. They are trendsetters, leading the way through new frontiers in student engagement and success. Student Affairs Professionals are also life-long learners, constantly growing to meet the demands of their profession, and most importantly, their students. So, are Student Affairs Professionals best regarded as experts of all things student-related (i.e. student professionals)? Or are they learners first, continuously expanding and updating their student engagement knowledge and expertise (professional students)? Yes, I went there. Why not both? Just as students have found ways to utilize technology as one of many tools for success in higher education, it seems natural that Student Affairs Professionals would benefit from a similar approach. Although these respective technological “tools for success” may bare some notable differences, their effectiveness is ultimately rooted in many of the same key features: Mobility – AKA Device Agnosticism Device-agnostic applications are designed for seamless access and utilization across various systems, from mobile phones to a desktop computers. With numerous obligations throughout campus and after-hours, the ability to access calendars, communications, and other work-related content through multiple devices is prudent for Student Affairs Professionals. Quality – More Bang for Your Buck Students and professionals alike, find themselves creating opportunities for learning and personal development where they didn’t previously exist due to increasingly hectic lifestyles, not to mention the emergence of Web 2.0 and networked learning. Concise and quality-dense resources such as podcasts and easy-to-read articles are both appealing and informative, in accordance with modern and traditional approaches to professional development. Flexibility -  Opening the Lines of Communication Effective communication within and across departments should take place through synchronous and asynchronous channels that support multimodality. A seamless flow of information and content, whether in a time-crunch or throughout the workday, allows for a natural organization and progression of ideas in a manner that supports user-flexibility. Particularly so, if all shared content and communications are contained within a single, easy-to-navigate platform. Centrality – A One-Stop Shop An overarching need for centrality is particularly relevant for Student Affairs Professionals, as the ability to access tools for personal organization, cross-collaboration, and professional development within a single location, is ideal. Any effort to consolidate information, eliminate disjunction, and facilitate a natural flow from one task to the next, has the potential to enhance overall organization and productivity. Technology carries great potential to assist in the management of all facets of Student Life, right down to each individual task of the awesome folks in charge. Of course, the true value of technology within this context is contingent on continuous collaboration among staff and faculty, strengthened through meaningful insights and expertise.

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