The day before Hurricane Irene made landfall along the Eastern Seaboard, a friend asked my wife and I to help volunteer setting up an evacuation center in NYC. While helping out, I was trying to be as nice as possible to the people coming in seeking shelter. I’d stop my work to help people carry luggage up stairs, answer questions, and clean up water spills. All of which I thought was part of my job as a volunteer.
After helping a family carry their luggage up some stairs, a supervisor stopped me and said…
“You shouldn’t be helping the evacuees as much because we need to train them to know that this is a self-help facility. They need to do things on their own. Training them that we will help them with everything is just setting us up for failure because there will soon be a lot more of them then there are of us and we won’t be able to help everyone.”
As soon as she said that, I flashbacked to the day before when I was doing an orientation training at a school and the president spoke before me. In his closing remarks to the orientation leaders, he said…
“No matter what, make sure to never, ever, ever let a parent pick up any luggage.”
Then a couple days ago on Twitter I saw this Tweet…
So my questions are, are we doing too much for our new students? Are we training them that no matter what they need, we are going to make it happen for them? Are we turning college into a daycare facility verses a place where you are expected to carry your own bag because after all, it’s your life?
A couple weeks ago, I attended the inaugural #140edu conference in NYC which brought together several hundred educators for two days to talk about the future of education. Modeled after TED, each person was given roughly 10 minutes to talk about his/her topic. My topic was on leveraging social media to increase student engagement outside the classroom. You can watch my keynote here.
After the first day of the conference it was clear that the focus of my talk was different than almost everyone else. While everyone was involved in education some how and had a desire to improve it, almost all the topics involved how to make “in-classroom” learning better, while my focus was on “out-of-classroom” learning. In higher ed this is often an area managed by a Student Affairs department.
I’ve attended dozens of education reform/revolution type conferences over the years, and I always end up feeling like the lone wolf talking about the “out-of-classroom” learning space. The informal learning moments that happen in-between classes.
Higher education analyst, Thomas G. Mortenson, revealed that a typical student will spend 15% of their day in class or working on classroom work and 35% of their day sleeping. That leaves 50% of the day for working or hanging around the campus community.
According to a UCLA national study of college seniors 4 out of 5 seniors say their most significant learning moments happened outside the classroom.
Academic researchers Astin, Tinto, and several others, conclude that the more socially involved a student is within the campus community, the higher his/her retention and graduation rates are.
With such strong data to support the work I’m doing, why do I always feel like an outsider at the education reform conferences where the conversation is dominated by in-classroom learning?
Harvard Business Review writers Linda Hill & Kent Lineback recently wrote an article titled “The Three Networks You Need.” Here’s a quick overview of each network:
The article argues that operational and developmental networks happen naturally, but strategic networks don’t but are equally as important because…
“the forces that drive change in your field will probably come from outside your current world.”
Education is known for its walled gardens, but with shifting times and increasing external pressures, the need for Educators to build up their strategic network is extremely important so they can better be prepared for the outside forces that are driving change in their field. This theme was echoed at the last Student Affairs conference I attended:
It’s an honor to have so many Educators include me in their strategic network and respect my opinion and thoughts even though I don’t work day-to-day at an institution. Instead, my time is spent working on identity development, technology, social media, and online engagement with hundreds of institutions and businesses. My view, and world, are different but often very relevant to the shift happening in Education. Some value my view, others refuse to listen.
I consider many within the #SAchat community to be a part of my strategic network because they DO work day-to-day at an institution. I lean on many educators almost daily for advice and suggestions. Some of my best ideas come from people who are totally outside the work I do.
What about you? If you were to map out your strategic network, what people from what worlds would you want to include?
Yesterday I spent a couple hours at Andrews AFB working with Liberty Program Managers from around the world on solving apathy among Single-Sailors on their Naval Bases. Single-Sailors tend to be within the same age range as college students and in many ways the challenges and solutions are similar to those faced by Student Affairs professionals within the college environment. But unlike Student Affairs professionals who spend countless hours in masters programs learning, discussing, and practicing their profession, Liberty Program Managers come from a variety of different backgrounds, but none include degrees in Student Affairs.
APCA courted MWR, which is the umbrella operation for the Liberty Program, several years ago which is where I originally met them and have developed an amazing relationship over the years. But APCA doesn’t stand close to the the professional development provided by NASPA or ACPA and I’d love to see one of those two organizations reach out to MWR and bring them into their world.