Student Advocates Office and Social Media Studentaffairs.com Virtual Case Study By: Amanda Bonilla, Brittany Graham, and Whitney Watkins Indiana University
Student Advocates Office Mission Statement- “The purpose of the Student Advocates Office is to assist students in resolving personal and academic problems so that they may maintain progress toward earning a degree. The Student Advocates Office promotes the growth and development of individual students and seeks to protect the rights of the student in a large and complex academic institution” (Student Advocate Report 2010-2011, 2010)
What are student advocates? Advocates are retired faculty and administrators who volunteer their time to serve as an expert for student issues. Advocates work individually with students to support them in solving problems by fostering: • effective written and verbal communication with faculty and administrators, • realistic expectations for outcomes, • a clear sense of personal responsibility and values, • respect for others and the university community, • assertive, independent decision making about personal and educational goals, • healthy choices, • full use of student service resources to promote academic success and • a collaborative approach to resolving problems and addressing challenges. (Student Advocate Report 2010-2011, 2010)
Issues the Advocates address: • I stopped attending classes last semester because of medical or family problems. Now I have F’s on my transcript for the semester, what are my options? • I have been assaulted while attending IU, what do I do? • I have a hold on my account and I need to register for classes, what do I do? (http://studentaffairs.iub.edu/advocates/ )
Based on the Student Advocates 2009-2010 Annual Report, the office listed specific goals for the 2010-2011 school year. Goals to be met by social media: • Find ways to update access to office services through technology. • Create a hub of training documents to expand training on student development issues for advocatesand staff. • Update website to mirror other student support service departments on campus. (Student Advocate Report 2010-2011, 2010)
What is social media? “Social media-networked digital media such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and wikis-enable people to socialize, organize, learn, play and engage in commerce. The part that makes social media social is that technical skills need to be exercised in concert with others: encoding, decoding, and community” (Rheingold, 2010, p. 16)
Why Social Media? “1.5 billion people are on the Internet. The number of mobile phone subscriptions is expected to reach 5 billion this year” Understanding that students are using technology and social media at rapidly increasing rates creates the need for student affairs professionals to make connections with the “new college student”. (Boyd & Ellison, 2007, p.220)
Goal #1: Find ways to provide access to office services through technology Social Media Opportunities- • Understanding the limited physical resources of the Student Advocate’s Office juxtaposed with student usage of social media; Facebook/Blogger/Twitter will help facilitate immediate access to deadlines and upcoming events for the office.
Utilizing Facebook can also connect the Student Advocates Office to other university departments using the site. Status updates serve as a medium for projecting important information to a large amount of students in a short period of time. Facebook is a quick, efficient way to connect to today’s students. Over four million people today use Facebook on a regular basis (Boyd & Ellison, 2007).
Ask an Advocate can serve as an interactive chat where students can ask questions and receive an instant response creating immediate connections to be enhanced through face to face contact. Ask and Advocate can also serve as another virtual resource for university information for students.
Another popular form of social media, twitter can connect with a wider range of students at a faster rate due to its simplistic format. Facebook and Twitter can be linked to disseminate information with minimal effort from the author.
Goal #2: Create a hub of training documents to expand training on student development issues for advocates and staff. Social Media Opportunities • To create a comprehensive source for all training manuals and useful documents, chatter.com can be used as a centralized site.
Chatter.com • Allows for training documents to be kept in a centralized location for access by trainees and trainers. • Members may use this site to upload links to useful sites and webinars created to help facilitate training. • This chatter.com group site is private, accessible only to those individuals invited for membership (this feature will help with the protection of sensitive information).
Invite coworkers to the group to share resources. Create a profile status to update current projects and connect with coworkers. Create your own profile within the Student Advocate Office Group. Share files such as training documents and staff resources.
Goal #3: Update website to mirror other student support service departments on campus. Social Media Opportunities- • Incorporating social media will enhance the overall revisions of the website by creating multiple avenues to connect to the students they serve. • All of the added features to the already existing website serve as a step towards meeting this particular goal for the organization. Starting here will help to revamp the organization website, as this will allow more accessibility and convenience for student users.
By adding icons to link to Facebook ,“Ask an Advocate” , and Twitter students have quick access to important deadlines and quick answers to questions.
Possible Challenges • Staffing issues • Staff are not trained in social media usage • Hesitation to integrate new forms of communication with students • Concerns with upkeep • Who will update the social media sites, as current staffing responsibilities may not allow time to do so • Not having enough information to consistently update the social media sites
Relevance of social media to Student Affairs Envisioning the Future of Student Affairs (2010) literature states: • Utilizing social media networks beyond the physical office space can enhance student organizational skills. • “Developing electronic technologies multiply the modes and accelerate the speed of communications" (p.6). • Expanding social network structures have implications for teaching, learning, and education services.
References • Facebook. Facebook.com. 2011. http://www.facebook.com/index.php?lh=dae890d0ec827db7c0d1948e8d50 (accessed February 23, 2011). • Google. Blogger.2011. https://www.google.com/accounts/ServiceLogin?service=blogger&continue (accessed February 23, 2011). • Rheingold, Howard. "Attention, and other 21st-Century Social Media Literacies.“ EDUCAUSE Review, 2010: 14-24. • Salesforce. Chatter.com. 2011. https://www.chatter.com/ (accessed February 23, 2011). • Twitter. Twitter.com. 2011. http://twitter.com/ (accessed February 23, 2011). • University, Indiana. Office of Student Advocates Annual report 2009-2010 • University, Indiana. Student Advocates Office. 2010. http://studentaffairs.iub.edu/advocates/ (accessed February 23, 2011). • ACPA & NASPA Task Force. (2010). Envisioning the future of student affairs. http://webhost.bridgew.edu/tesposito/asatt/Task_Force_Final_Report%20_Narrative.pdf (accessed February 23, 2011).