You are who you tweet

About six months ago, my brother-in-law asked me, “So, what is sac hat?” More importantly, he tweeted the question to me. Many of us in student affairs spend various holidays explaining to family what it is we do for a profession. I was now trying to explain to my brother-in-law what I tweet about my profession. For him, #sachat was just good fodder for ribbing me. For me, #sachat has become my go-to place for collaboration, learning, and professional development.

Therefore, in tribute to the theoretical framework I used in my comprehensive exam for my Master’s degree many years ago and to pay homage to the #sachat community, I offer my application of William Perry’s Stages of Twitter Development (I am truly sorry, Bill):

(Me, early 2009) Twitter sounds ridiculous. It is just people telling other people what they had for breakfast. Isn’t it really just Facebook updates? What’s the point? I’ll stick with Facebook. All of my family and friends are on Facebook.

(Me, March 2009) Okay, so I hear a lot of my students talking about Twitter. That’s great for them. I’ll create a Twitter profile, but I don’t see the big deal. I follow about 30 news organizations, which feeds my news junkie side. But really, what would I use this for?

(Me, late 2009) I searched “academic advising” and came across a few other advisors on Twitter. That’s pretty cool. This @EricStoller called me out for not including student affairs in my profile. Apparently, I have a lot to learn. Maybe I can connect with a few other student affairs types on here. Whoa. What is this #sachat thing?

Commitment to Relativism
(Me, March 2010) Ok, I just got more out of a conference than ones I have actually attended, and all of it by just following #naspa10. This #sachat is amazing. There are so many student affairs professionals. I now have to figure out these lists things, given how many people I am now following. We’re talking about first year experience and orientation and professional development. So many ideas flowing, and hilarious people.

So, Tom and Debra, thank you. Thank you for providing an environment where I have moved from clinging to the wall, to tapping my toes, to busting a move right under the disco ball. I have connected with amazing people and ideas. I have received books in the mail from Teri, skype conversations from Rey, and LOL direct messages from Eric and Stacy. I have been inspired by so many, including some incredible women like Julie and Cindy. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg, and I am looking forward to all that’s next.

As @tbump once shared (via @scottmonty), “you are who you tweet.” Good to know, since I am now keeping some pretty amazing company.

Creating Partnerships without Borders

In the past few weeks, I have connecting with almost 100 new colleagues in student affairs across the country. Now, for attendance at a national conference, that would be an amazing feat of networking, but I was not able to attend NASPA this year, much to my disappointment. I happened upon #SAchat, a hashtag used on Twitter to connect student affairs professionals in a weekly chat. Then I began following other student affairs on Twitter, and so on, and so on.

But then I was reading the Joint Task Force on the Future of the Profession’s final report. For those of you student affairs professionals that have been living under a rock, NASPA and ACPA have begun discussing a merger of the two organizations. Personally, I think it is a wise move in a profession of constantly strapped resources and a role model for collaboration. What struck me about the final report was this notion of partnerships without borders.

I connected with almost 100 colleagues (and growing, every time I check Twitter) from my couch. I have shared ideas with them about student development theory, assessment, being a working mom, and even some tricks on SurveyMonkey. I don’t say this to dismiss the value of conferences (which I will be returning to after my data collection), but I am slightly in awe of the connections that can be made and how community is being redefined by the connections made with technology.

I am sure there were several programs at NASPA discussing this. I probably missed the tweets covering it.