AcAdv, ACPA, ACPAdigital, Blended Learning, Higher Education, Learning, Learning Technologies, Online Learning, Professional Development

Academic Support In A Digital Age

Although you might not advise or support students in an online degree program, there are increasing efforts for teaching and learning technology. Learning delivery and design does impact how we support our students, and we mediate much of our work in higher education using digital tools and platforms. That being said, any adoption of technology should be led with informed decisions on modifying pedagogical methods (Bates, 2015), which is directly related to our advising models and programs we offer in the post-secondary. Our students want the same flexibility, access, and online support.

Our students want the same flexibility, access, and online support they often receive from instruction and other services they use. When learning with technology, our students are accustomed to having access to student support or other features alongside their online/blended coursework; however, the digital student success side is frequently an afterthought for these technology determinations. We need to have more student success and academic advising programs consider the best technology to provide advising content and service delivery (Steele, 2015) for a more learner-centered approach.

digital DNA

Digital DNA by Adriana Varella and Nilton Malz 

Whether you are leveraging technology to optimize your student support services or your campus is transitioning to either a blended or online learning model, there is both a need and desire to improve technology for academic advisors and student support practices in higher education (Pasquini & Steele, 2015). During your planning, it will be critical for your institution to ask the following questions before selecting technology-mediated environments for advising and learner support: 

  • What technologies is your institution currently utilizing for academic advising or student support?
  • How does your division or unit on campus decide on the most appropriate mode of technology delivery? [Will this be a campus-wide decision?]
  • What factors should be determined when designing technology in advising program and/or student support functional area?
  • What other strategies and structural support might benefit your campus in preparing  staff as they support learners digitally?  (e.g. training, skill development, etc.)

Join me as I discuss this further next Wednesday, September 14th from 12-1 pm EDT for the ACPA Commission for Academic Support in Higher Education (CASHE) Presents Webinar: “Selecting Technology for Advising and Supporting Your Students.” During this online event, I will be sharing a few evidence-based ideas and practical resources to help your advising team address these questions. This webinar will introduce your campus planning group to a few strategies and structures as they select technology for advising and student support. Sign up for this FREE webinar sponsored by ACPA CASHE here: http://goo.gl/tR8THa 

References

Bates, A. W., (2015). Chapter 9: Modes of delivery. In Guidelines for designing teaching and learning for a digital age. Open Text BC.

Pasquini, L. A., & Steele, G. (2016). Technology in academic advising: Perceptions and practices in higher education. figshare. Retrieved from https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.3053569.v7

Steele, G. (2015). Using Technology for Intentional Student Evaluation and Program AssessmentNACADA Clearinghouse of Academic Advising Resources. 

AcAdv, AdvTech, StudentAffairs

Supporting Learners with Technology: Perceptions and Practices of Technology in Advising

It is a critical time to assess how campus stakeholders are employing digital resources to scaffold learners beyond the course curriculum and learning environments. A growing number of colleges and universities want to advance how they offer student support using technology outside the “classroom.” This campus change is impacting more student success and academic advising programs as they consider the best technology to provide advising content and service delivery for learner-centered approaches. By researching technological trends and challenges, conducting campus-wide assessments, and establishing strategic plans, higher education stakeholders can effectively integrate technology into student support practices to align with individual advising objectives and to further the goals of the institution.

#advtech

Surveying Institutional Perceptions and Practices on Advising
 To understand the impact technology has on student support and practice The Global Community for Academic Advising (NACADA) association, specifically the NACADA Technology in Advising Commission sponsors semi-regular surveys for the NACADA membership (e.g. 2002, 2007, and 2011). In 2013 a new survey instrument was designed to capture data, specifically to identify how higher education advising staff and senior administration employ technology to support their practices. A total of 990 respondents completed the survey; however 65% identified as an academic advisor/counselor. The other respondent’s role on campus included advising administrators (22%) and faculty (4%).

Key findings from this study:

  • Top 3 advising technologies: desktop computers, campus storage networks, & Wi-Fi
  • Technology tools/platforms the institution wants advisors to use: learning management systems (46%) and laptops (40%)
  • Technology tools/platforms utilized by advisors: 24% use scanners and 23% use social networks (e.g. Twitter and Facebook).
  • Advisors communicate with technology (daily) primarily with: other academic advisors/counselors (86.35%) and students (89.88%).
  • Advisors less frequently use technology to communicate with: academic administrators (58.08%), faculty (47.22%), & student affairs administrators (37%).
  • Daily advising practices include: e-mail (99%); face-to-face interactions (91%); locally installed word processor, spreadsheets, etc. (80%); phone (73%) and Facebook (30%).
  • Less frequently used advising technology (< 2%): licensed video-conferencing (e.g. Adobe Connect, Wimba, Zoom), retention software, photo-sharing websites, and podcasts.

Overall, we found the advising community communicates with campus stakeholders across their institutions and to stay connected to professional peers outside the institution:

  • 70-90% think advising technology supports information distribution on campus, and sharing knowledge and maintaining connections within higher education.
  • 24% indicated that advising technology tools do not help with communication and student scheduling.
  • 80-92% believe advising technology helps them work faster and more efficiently, produce higher quality work, store advising information, simplifies the academic advising administrative processes, and contributes positively to their academic advising role.

Technology Needs to be Location-Free, Build Rapport, and Use Current Systems

When asked what their “ideal technology in advising practice” to support students and advising functions, respondents wanted advising technology to:

  • Be integrated into current systems and existing campus technologies.
  • Create opportunity and access for student support and advising regardless of physical location, time, etc.
  • Help build an advising rapport, make connections, and support communication.
  • Support transparent knowledge sharing and degree completion information.
  • Scaffold effective online and blended models of academic advising.
  • Address the needs and challenges related to advisor and learner preferences and/or practices for student support/services.
  • Capture the holistic view of the student learning experience, which is essential to enhance academic advising practices and institutional outcomes.

It is imperative that campus decisions about technology and learning also include design and delivery methods that are inclusive of academic advising needs. From this research, it there is both a need and desire to improve front-line advising and student support practices in higher education using technology. Beyond soliciting input during the technology purchasing and implementation phase, institutions need to consider HOW student support is organized and ASSESS current advising practices and models.

To integrate or update technology for advising, our institutions will need to also consider how they will provide additional support, offer advisors training, and create job aids or resources to scaffold technology use for the students, staff, and faculty user experience. In the efforts to expand this research and distribute this knowledge for higher education technology for advising, the survey instrument, data, and white paper (also shared on Academia.edu) from this study are shared by the researchers with a Creative Commons license. Thanks for the support of the NACADA #AdvTech Commission, and co-author George Steele.

Reference:
Pasquini, L. A., & Steele, G. (2016). Technology in academic advising: Perceptions and practices in higher education. figshare. Retrieved from https://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.3053569.v7

Note: A version of this blog post was also shared on the NACADA Blog and the WCET Blog. In the coming months, I look forward to working with research collaborators on an updated version and replication of this study.  

AcAdv, Higher Education

The Future of Advising

This week I am at the NACADA’s International Conference, Melbourne, Australia (#NACADAmelb) with The Global Community for Academic Advising. Today our panel (George, Catherine, Jennifer, and myself) started a conversation around the following prompt: “The Future of Advising: Current and Past Predictions to Shape Our Future.” This panel was designed to poke at the issues and uses of technology in higher education for student support, academic advising, and personal tutoring. Much of the discussion was focussed on the Lowenstein’s chapter, Envisioning the Future (as shared in What’s On the Horizon for Academic Advising? recorded lecture), and Steele’s article, Five Possible Future Work Profiles for Full-time Academic Advisors, specifically to address the following issues with advising:

  1. If advising is teaching, how will technology assist in its delivery?
  2. How will technology shape the role of advising as a profession?
  3. How will current trends such as “big data,” “predictive/learning analytics,” and financial support in higher education impact advising? 

Although this international conference holds a variety of perspectives and definitions for academic advising, students support needs and challenges in our post-secondary institutions are very similar. Regardless of geographic location or educational systems, collaboratively we can benefit from our collective experiences just like the innovators who created the digital revolution (Isaacson, 2014).

Themes emerging from our discussions included student support needs, advising responsibility and workflow, peer tutoring/advising roles and models, change literacy, leadership strategy with change, and cultural considerations. Most often people want to talk about the shiny, bullet (technology) solution, but really there are a number of other considerations for the future of advising and students support in higher ed that go beyond a platform or application.  With this panel discussion, we really wanted to provide a springboard to dive into the issues relevant to advising, beyond technological solutionism.

RobotsJob

Fortunately for us, we had a number of brilliant administrators and faculty at our #NACADAmelb session who asked insightful questions and prompts we should think deeper about. I will leave these questions here for you to ponder as you consider what lies ahead for the future of advising and student support in higher education:

    • Will there be a future?
    • Advising is such a personal, developmental relationship. How can technology – any technology – deliver better than a real person?
    • How do we engage and keep students engaged in online advising?
    • Will academic advising ever be part of a strategic plan?
    • Will advising ever be rewarded like research or teaching?
    • How do we effectively support students?
    • How do we use our data to predict future trends and be more proactive in a digital and physical advising environment?
    • How can technology be used to support student advising?
    • What are the best exemplars in the field?
    • How do we keep the pace with the communication styles and needs for our learners?
    • What are the best tips and tricks for distance education advising?
    • How will the status of advising, as a profession worldwide, be valued?
    • What are the pedagogical and theoretical underpinnings the global community of advising (NACADA) should consider?
    • When will robots be able to do my job? [Find out.]

References

Isaacson, W. (2014). The Innovators. How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution. New York: Simon & Shuster.

Lowenstein, M. (2013). Chapter 14: Envisioning the future. In J. K. Drake, P.   Jordan, M. A. Miller(Eds.), Academic advising approaches: Strategies that teach students to make the most of college. (pp. 243-258). San Francisco,  CA: Jossey-Bass

Pasquini, L. A. (2015, February 22). What’s on the horizon for academic advising? [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vkGgsJrRZMg

Steele, G.E. (2006). Five possible future work profiles for full-time academic advisors, NACADA Journal, 26(2), 48-64.

AcAdv, nacada

What’s On the Horizon for Academic Advising?

Last week, I shared my thoughts about what academic advising might look in the future in higher education with an advising group.

Based on Lowenstein’s (2013) “Vision, Not a Prediction” description in his Academic Advising Approaches chapter, I shared my ideas of how the field of academic advising COULD contribute to evolution of post-secondary education. Lowenstein shares a number of insights and examples about how advising as a profession can move forward, so my talk focussed on HOW (specifically with examples) where faculty and professional advisors can enhance student development in terms of:

  1. Interaction with students to  contribute and encourage learning outside their curriculum.
  2. Influence to changes and developments on their own campuses.
  3. Integration into the broader focus and purpose of academia.

Much of this session discussed how higher education institutions and administrators would be the only ones to lead advising changes, unless the advising profession asked the following questions themselves:

  • What is the role of advising or the advisor in post-secondary education?
  • What will advising look like in 5, 10, or 20 years?
  • What do YOU want the profession of advising to look like?
  • What sort of advising “profession” do YOU want to participate in?
  • How can YOU contribute to the change and develops occurring in higher ed, specifically with regards to how advising is organized?

In thinking about my own responses to the above prompts, I know that advisors can be at the forefront of institutional and organizational change. A number of advisors I interact with and know are very forward thinking, innovative problem-solvers who want to contribute to research, teaching, or service initiatives for the profession. It is this type of critical thinking and resilience of this generation of advisors, that we need to step up to debate practices, contribute ideas, and become active participants in how the role of advising at our institutions.  Does this mean increased advising training and development, enhance qualifications, or greater expectations for advisors? Perhaps. I think the advising community of practice can decide that, and should before some one else in the post-secondary sector decides to take this challenge on without consulting advisors altogether.

 

Reference

Lowenstein, M. (2013). Chapter 14: Envisioning the future. In J. K. Drake, P. Jordan, & M. A. Miller (Eds.), Academic advising approaches: Strategies that   teach students to make the most of college. (pp. 243-258). San Francisco,   CA: Jossey-Bass.