Two weeks ago I had the privilege of attending the second #NASPAtech conference in Indianapolis, IN. Having attended the inaugural conference in Rhode Island last year and been inspired by the innovative ideas and energy of my student affairs colleagues throughout the country, I was looking forward to see what was in store for version 2012. It was #NASPAtech 2011 that introduced me to such great professionals as Ed Cabellon, Joe Ginese, Kristen Abell, and Debra Sanborn, among others. It was also the first time I was able to see Kevin Kruger and Eric Stoller in action. While I was already immersed in the social media world, #NASPAtech 2011 encouraged me to start my own blog as well as begin working on one for my department and to push those in my area to expand their social media outreach and communication. With the excellent take-aways and the connections I made last year, it was with great anticipation that I landed in Indianapolis, bringing a colleague from my department as well, Michelle Shea, our coordinator for communications and social media.
From the moment I walked into the opening session, it was obvious that this was a different kind of professional conference, one that was energized and encouraging people to interact. Entering the ballroom, the standard Twitter feed was displayed on the wall and Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Call Me Maybe” was playing through the sound system when James Guaranga tweets, “hey i just got here! and this is crazy… but i’m at
#NASPAtech so tweet me maybe?” That single message, while humorous given the music playing, reflected the simultaneous complexity and simplicity of the next 48 hours that would be #NASPAtech 2012: engage your colleagues and friends on Twitter, contribute to each others learning through online dialogue, and enjoy yourselves. Yet the complexity of that statement would materialize as participants would attend concurrent sessions, participate in that session through Twitter while following and participating in the other concurrent sessions. To say that Twitter encourages increased learning by increasing time on task seems like an understatement for this conference!
Throughout the next two days, #NASPAtech 2012 did not let me down. The breadth of session topics ranged from social media and cloud computing, to web accessibility and online conduct. Keynote and plenary sessions included a legal lesson on electronic privacy, the future of technology in student affairs, and the role of social media in corporate communication. The unsessions allowed us to discuss those issues important to us, such as innovative ways to use tablets in students affairs, discussing technology as a competency, and web accessiblity. Guest presenters participated from across the country through the use of Google Hangouts. In each facet, #NASPAtech delivered by posing ideas and questions that are imperative for our field to contemplate and answer. I was able to engage colleagues not present at the conference, such as Joe Ginese and Joe Sabado, while connecting either in person or via Twitter with a range of colleagues such Levester Johnson, Bryan Koval, Julie Payne-Kirchmeier, and Todd Cox, just to name a few.
Student affairs needs to adopt new technologies, shunning the fear of its use. It is those of us who attend #NASPAtech that can make the arguments on our campuses for the change needed in our higher education worlds. It is those of us who attend the conference who want to see these topics grow and mature, while remaining unsession worthy. I am confident that that this will occur because NASPA is committed to evolving with the times, as evidenced in Kevin Kruger’s comments during a plenary session to see the annual NASPA conference change to permit more responsive sessions that demonstrate innovation on our campuses. Once you open yourself up to technology, you begin to realize how vital it is. Now that NASPA has opened its doors to two #NASPAtech conferences, technology is acknowledged as permeating our world – to remove it would be akin to giving your iPhone (or Android smartphone) to your neighbor and walking away. It is just not something we can do easily. We are interested in the latest and greatest and seeking ways to integrate it onto our work. We seek to figure out how we can use the newest technology to work more efficiently and build connections with students and our colleagues across the country.
Congratulations to NASPA for putting together another great conference that explored new topics and inspired those in attendance. If you attended #NASPAtech this year and learned something new or made some new connections, share them below so we can keep the conversation going!