Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning
The posting below looks at some of the new uses of technology in student advising. It is from Chapter 24, Advising and Consulting, by Patrick Love and Sue Maxam in the book, Student Services, by John H. Schuh, Susan R. Jones, Shaun R. Harper, and Associates. Published by Jossey-Bass: A Wiley Imprint [www.josseybass.com] 989 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94203-1741. ©Copyright 2011 by John Wiley & Sons, Inc. All rights reserved. Reprinted with permission.
UP NEXT: Institutional Interventions That Promote Sophomore Success
Tomorrow's Teaching and Learning
------------------------------------------- 1,036 words ------------------------------------
Technology and Advising
Technology is playing an increasingly important, even integral role in advising. It has been used to support both advising systems (such as degree audit programs, advising Web sites, and transfer articulation systems) and the actual delivery of advising (such as through social networking, blogs, and instant messaging). (Leonard, 2008). Using both synchronous and asynchronous technology appropriately allows for effective planning, preparation, information sharing, record keeping, and follow-up while facilitating ongoing communication with students. Because it is convenient, instantaneous (in many cases), user-friendly, and accessible for most, technology can actually enhance advisor-advisee relationships by providing additional ways to communicate while building a sense of community and even school spirit. Therefore, it is incumbent upon advisors to stay up-to-date on the effective use of technology. Carter (2007) notes that this is especially vital because students increasingly prefer using technology-driven communication to more traditional modes.
A continually growing number of technologies support delivery of academic and student organization advising:
Instant messaging (IM) provides a means of instantaneous communication for simple and quick questions, answers, updates, or comments.
E-mail and listservs allow advisors to reach out to one, selected, or all advisees quickly, easily, and efficiently.
Social networking sites, such as Facebook (www.facebook.com) and MySpace (www.myspace.com), are online communities that allow users to create and customize their own profiles with photos, videos, and information about themselves, while linking to other members of each site. This has become the preferred method of communication among today's students, more so than traditional e-mail (Leonard, 2008). Advising offices can set up pages, and advisors can use social networking sites to post such pertinent information as office hours, advising philosophies, news, programs, policies, procedures, upcoming events, and frequently asked questions. These sites are also used to create discussion groups.
Blogs are online commentaries on a particular subject that allow readers to respond to their authors' writings. Advisors can use blogs to post academic information, viewpoints, and notes from meetings on a rolling basis, while also engaging students in discussions of relevant academic topics.
Wikis are collections of work designed to enable different authors to contribute to, edit, delete, or modify the content. Like blogs, wikis allow advisors to promote discussion of pertinent issues.
Really simple syndication (RSS) feeds are automatic announcements that there is something new on the Web that may be of interest to subscribers. Advisors can use RSS feeds to provide updates on academic policies or procedures, registration information, and upcoming events.
Podcasts are audio or video files that can be played or downloaded or to which users subscribe. Advisors can use podcasts to address academic topics such as registration instructions and academic progress information.
Skype is a software program that allows users to make inexpensive or free voice and video calls, do instant messaging, and transfer files, all from the user's computer. This is a very useful tool, especially for distance advising.
Course management systems, such as Blackboard (www.blackboard.com) or Moodle (www.moodle.com), although typically course driven, can be used to create a community among a group of individuals who share a common interest or bond. Student organizations and academic advisors use these online communities for discussions, postings, information sharing, online chats, and e-mail exchanges.
Electronic portfolios (e-portfolios) are Web-based collections of evidence assembled and managed by users. Such documentation, which is maintained dynamically, can include electronic files, multimedia, blog entries, hyperlinks, images, and so on. E-portfolios provide students with opportunities to showcase their course work, achievements, and professional growth. They facilitate students' reflection on their own learning, leading to more awareness of the connections among their curricular, co-curricular, and other relevant experiences. E-portfolios can be an important advising tool, helping students stay on track, understand how their experiences fit together, and prepare for their careers.
Twitter (www.twitter.com) is a free social networking and microblogging service that enables users to send and read short messages known as "tweets." Advisors can use Twitter to provide students with brief but important information and news as quickly as possible.
Second Life (www.secondlife.com) is a free online virtual world that enables its users to network and interact with each other using avatars. Colleges sometimes use this system to set up virtual campuses mimicking their own as a means of sharing information, running seminars, holding advising sessions, and so on.
Mobile computing describes the use of small, portable, and wireless computing and communication devices, such as laptops, mobile phones, wearable computers, personal digital assistants (PDA's) with Bluetooth or IRDA interfaces, and USB flash drives. Fuelled by the increasing availability of mobile devices among students, advisors, and faculty, mobile computing is gaining popularity because it can be accessed anytime, anywhere, while promoting a collaborative and open learning environment.
Although students often expect immediacy in communication and tend to prefer using technologies such as those listed above, it is important to employ a multifaceted communication approach in advising, combining these tools with face-to-face communication. The personal relationship that develops from one-on-one contact cannot be replicated online. Important nonverbal and subverbal elements of advising relationships are missing in many technology-based interactions. In addition, there are lost opportunities for discussions about other issues that may inadvertently arise during face-to-face conversations. Technologies such as instant messaging, e-mail, podcasts, and blogs tend to deal with the specific issues at hand, whereas personal exchanges can reveal so much more than was originally intended, providing additional insights and information that advisors can use to better serve and connect with students. Further, Carter (2007) maintains that advisors must also be cognizant of the fact that some students may not have immediate access to technology (possibly due to their socioeconomic backgrounds), and others may be reluctant to use it for a variety of reasons. Thus technology is not a substitute and should be used in conjunction with personal contact so that advisors and advisees can build and maintain meaningful relationships.
Technology has taken advising to a new level by simplifying, expediting, and increasing access to information while allowing advisors to enhance relationships with their advisees through online dialogues. Technology, when used properly, frees up an advisor's time for more long-term educational planning and mentoring with their advisees. Advisors need to realize that technology can never replace personal, face-to-face interactions, but rather can supplement them.
Carter, J. (2007). Utilizing technology in academic advising. NACDA Clearinghouse of Academic
Advising Resources www.nacada.ksu.edu/Clearinghouse/AdvisingIssues/Technology.htm#tech.
Leonard, M. J. (2008), Advising delivery: Using technology. In V. N. Gordon, W. R. Habley, & T. J. Grites (Eds.) Academic advising: A comprehensive handbook (2nd ed., pp. 292-306). San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.