#satechBOS UnConference 2011
Last Friday, I attended what’s believed to be the first Student Affairs Technology UnConference (follow on Twitter via #satechBOS). It was hosted by Boston University, so I could not turn down the chance to attend something like this just miles away. The event ran from 11am-5pm in a classroom in BU’s School of Management and drew about 75 people, most of whom work in Student Affairs or represent a vendor who serves the SA Profession.
The day got started with everyone introducing themselves by giving their name, institution/company, functional area and Twitter handle (though not every attendee had one). @EdCabellon facilitated the discussions throughout the day, having sent out a Twtpoll two days prior with a range of topics people could select interest in or fill in their own suggestions. The first topic was “Best Practices in Social Media” and everyone was invited to give their perspective on their usage of social media in connecting with students, prospective students and more. One interesting question that came up was “Should use Facebook differently from Twitter and Google+?” While we did not solve this issue, more discussion came from sharing about meeting different needs because the same users are not often using all three forms of social media. One other fascinating discussion broke out when the question was asked “Why are you using social media? Is it in your job description or do you just have an affinity for it?” We talked further about how social media should be written into job descriptions so that it isn’t a fad and continues to be used as a way to engage students.
Another exciting thing about the UnConference experience is that it was not only taking place among those in the room, but the conversations also took place via Twitter and extended well outside of New England. Those joining the conversation on Twitter soon asked for a Ustream of the event and tuned in from their work stations. This only added to the discussion; over 1,000 tweets were generated.
Here is my list of take-aways from the event:
- Use social media to engage with students, rather than an extension of your website (i.e. don’t post the same info that’s on your departmental website). Use it to create community via discussion.
- Consider ways to future-proof social media and write it into job descriptions rather than allowing whoever is interested to just do it.
- Develop social media guidelines for your division or department and make them accessible.
- Accessibility is key, even in technology. @EricStoller led the discussion on ways to make websites more accessible to students with visual impairments, commenting “we wouldn’t build a building without an elevator.”
- Consider why you use social media and how to help others benefit from it. @DeanElmore shared his knowledge with us “Shape technology to honor what matters in our lives.”
A sincere thank you to @SportsGirKat and @DeanElmore of Boston University and @EdCabellon for making this event possible. While I did not know what to expect going into it, I was blown away by the content shared and connections made. I hope this becomes an annual event and grows beyond the city of Boston.