March Magic: Reflections on ACPA 2012

Image of the 2012 ACPA Convention Logo

In my last installment of “March Magic” this week, I wanted share my reflections on the 2012 ACPA Convention in Louisville, where I continued my role as ACPA 2013 Technology Chair, presented on Social Media Tools as part of an Institute, and reconnected with friends that I met on Twitter and in living color just three short years ago.  What a great end to a month filled with magic :-)

This was the fourth ACPA Convention I had been to (2000 in DC, 2010 in Boston, 2011 in Baltimore) and I’ve enjoyed the opportunities to network and learn from a wide range of Student Affairs and Higher Educational professionals and faculty.  As I gain more experience in the field, its important that I network with folks who currently hold positions that I aspire to hold someday.  The Senior Student Affairs Officers I’ve met in ACPA  have always been so supportive and I’ve appreciated that greatly!  I started the convention being invited by Teri Bump and Cissy Petty to a Senior Student Affairs Officer meeting where I got to share my perspectives on Social Media and why more of them needed to be on board.  I was honored to be invited and with folks like Patrick Love in the room, it was a great opportunity with many rich follow up conversations.

As the Convention started, I knew I had two specific roles.  First was to present in part one of the Convention Social Media Institute with some amazing Student Affairs colleagues & friends.  While we were given a 7:30am slot (wow, was that ever early), we still had a modest showing and a great conversation. Kathy Petras did a great job coordinating this year’s institute which showcased five different sessions including:

Use of Social Media Tools in Higher Education“:  Bruce Mann, Keegin Mills, Melissa RoccoKristen Rupert, and I
Engaging First Year Students on Facebook”: Tom Krieglstein & Kathy Petras
“Social Media and the Job Search:  Becca Obergefell & Mike Severy
“Social Media and Leadership Programs”: Chris ConzenBecca Obergefell & Mike Severy:
Accessibility and Social Media:  Rachel Luna

The Institute model for teaching Social Media was a great one, and something I hope we can expand in Las Vegas.  If you combine this institute with teaching stations and “technology labs” where folks can play with the latest gear and online tools, this could be a powerful formula for growth in technology literacy and which implementation excitement.  I’m confident in Kathy and the newly formed Technology Workgroup/Task Force/Commission and our partnerships for the 2013 Convention to push the association forward in technology.

Second, as the Chair of Technology for the 2013 Convention, I was asked to observe how the association used technology and devise a plan for 2013.  I was humbled last fall when Keith Humphrey reached out and invited me to join (Convention Chair) Karen Warren Coleman and be part of the CPT, so I am focused on doing an excellent job for the association.  I’m excited to be working with Karen, Heather GasserPaulette Dalpes and the many others on the team, as they bring such fantastic energy and excitement to the planning process.  I am focused on working closely with each of the committee’s chairs since Technology will be finely woven into each of their areas, as well as with Jon Gilmore, who is Director of Information Technology for ACPA.  As the Convention Planning Team (CPT) met regularly, both formally and informally, I got a real sense for what was currently being done and thought about which pieces made sense moving forward.

I have already generated a lot of great ideas and am looking for a team of people to help pull it all together in Las Vegas.  Let me know if you are interested in joining the fun!

Taking into consideration what I learned at SXSW and ACUI, my goals for Technology use at the ACPA 2013 Convention are as follows:

1.  Data Gathering: I want to find out WHAT people know about Technology, HOW people are using it, & WHY some people are hesitant on using it.  Pre and post Convention assessment will be necessary as part of this goal.
2.  Education: Discover what level (Beginner, Intermediate, Advanced) people are at and show them how to advance levels.  If you are already advanced, find out together how to we best teach others? How do we centralize this knowledge base so content is easy to find and share?
3.  Customer Service: If you have a question or concern at Convention, use technology for a prompt response.  I envision the team I’m pulling together working closely with the ACPA International Office (IO) to make sure we can accomplish this.
4.   Member Engagement: Whether you are in Las Vegas or not, we will use technology that will engage our membership to inspire action.  Whether that be through Social Media, video streaming of sessions, or the ability to provide instant feedback to presenters through Guidebook or other app, we will find a way that works best for you.

Finally, I really enjoyed reconnecting with a community of friends I’ve made thanks to Twitter, especially Chris, Tom, Kristen, Kathy, Becca, Mike, Eric, Teri, Kenn, Dan, & Jenna.  I also enjoyed getting to know Melissa, Bruce, Kat, and Laura better thanks to our evening hangouts :-) … as well as meeting Kevin, Ciji, Eric, Erica, and Kari for the first time!

As I flew back to Boston, I started writing this post originally with the question, “Would I even be in ACPA right now if it weren’t for Twitter?”  It’s no secret that I have been heavily committed and involved in ACUI since graduate school in the, *cough cough*, “late 90′s”, so why get involved with ACPA now? Simple, because of serendipity in the form of 140 characters: Twitter. I became active on Twitter in the summer of 2009 and connected with Tom and many other Student Affairs professionals that happened to be coming to Boston in the spring of 2010 for the ACPA Convention. Since it was local, I decided to go to the Convention, in large part, to meet the very people I had grown quite fond of!  I remember vividly meeting Kathy,  BeccaKristen, and Kat after the opening keynote and then meeting them, along with Mike and others at California Pizza Kitchen and thinking… there is something to this Twitter thing after all! :) Last year in Baltimore, thanks to Teri‘s ability to be the ultimate connector, I got to meet Heather & Keith, and was reconnected with my old friend Gavin, whom I worked with at the University of New Hampshire (a long time ago!) and all of a sudden, I’m hooked in.

Add in the 2010 ACPA Tweetup, the 2011 ACPA Tweetup, three years of twitter conversations, and a great 2012 Convention, and what you have is me… completely committed to these amazing people and ACPA.  I can’t wait to see what we all build, together. :-)

What do you want to see out of the 2013 ACPA Convention in Las Vegas? How has technology played a role in your professional development?  Should our respective Associations adjust their programs to support more peer-peer learning opportunities or keep things status quo?

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