Student Affairs IT Education Programs

I’ve been quite productive this weekend. One of the visible signs of my productivity is the new “Wiki” tab on my website. I’ve had a test installation of MediaWiki up for a month or two but I finally got around to getting the layout to match the rest of the website and integrating it into the navigation bar. That ties into the topic of this post as I hope to be using the wiki to work on two related and similar programs aimed at offering some basic IT education to student affairs professionals.

  • On Friday, I was notified that a pre-conference program I had submitted for the upcoming NASPA 2008 Conference was accepted. Elahe Amani, Co-Chair Elect of the NASPA Technology Knowledge Community and Director of Technology Services for Student Affairs at California State University-Fullerton, will be co-presenting the session. It’s entitled “New (And Old!) Technology You Can Use” and it will be a practical introduction to and comparison of many technological tools that may be of use to student affairs professionals: e-mail, listservs, blogs, wikis, RSS, etc. You can read the program information as it was submitted to and accepted by NASPA in the wiki entry.
  • Another idea that I’ve been kicking around for a month or two is that of adapting the Learning 2.0 project to a student affairs context. The Learning 2.0 project was a project created by librarians at the Public Library of Charlotte & Mecklenburg County (PLCMC) in North Carolina. It was a series of weekly educational topics and exercises posted in a blog with each week’s activities focused on different “Web 2.0” tools. The entire series was scheduled to unfold over a period of 8.5 weeks. Other organizations have adapted these exercises and the wonderful folks at PLCMC have even posted some lessons learned and tips on how to “de-PLCMC” the activities. The basic structure and content are sound and I aim to adapt the activities for student affairs professionals with the goals of (a) running the activities for a group of professionals, possibly through NASPA, and (b) making the content useful enough that institutions can take the content, tweak it, and use it on their own campuses. I’ve mentioned this idea to others and several people have expressed interest in working on this project.

Given that I hope to be collaborating with others on both of these projects, I think you can see why I am eager to use a wiki as a tool for these projects.

In addition, the two projects are very similar to one another and I sincerely hope that no one thinks that I am in any way trying to get others to do my own work for the NASPA pre-conference program! It’s inevitable that there will be significant crossover and sharing between these two projects given how close they are to one another; one could almost look at them as being the same except one program will be conducted in 3 hours in a face-to-face session in Boston in a few months and the other will occur at some time over a period of several weeks over the web.

(Here’s a brief glimpse into how I attempt to weave things together: (a) Given those already involved, I am classifying these projects as NASPA Technology Knowledge Community projects; that means that Leslie and I can put them in the Technology Knowledge Community’s upcoming board report and say “Look – we’re doing things! Productive and interesting things, too!” (b) For both projects, we’ll be able to use the wiki and this blog post as real live examples of how these tools are used by professionals working on real projects.)

On a very loosely-related note, the work I put in to get MediaWiki to look like and fit into the navigation scheme of the rest of my webpage has made me rethink the design of this website. It’s not bad but as I shove more tools into this color scheme and setup, the more shortcomings are revealed. I doubt that I will be making significant changes anytime soon as that would entail a lot of work and there is no guarantee the end result would be any better. If nothing else, maintaining and expanding this webpage is meeting one of my goals which is to continue to “get my hands dirty” with technical issues and retain some level of competence in web development and maintenance; it would be very easy to neglect those skills while in graduate school and I must actively work to retain them.