5 Ways to Give on Valentine’s Day

February 14, 2012

Valentine’s Day is that one special day each year to express love and friendship with the people in your life.  This is also a perfect opportunity for your campus organization to spread love and friendship in your community through volunteering, donating, and participating in charity work.

1. Organize or attend a V-Day Event. V-Day is a world-wide movement created to end violence against all women and girls. Click here to read more about V-Day. See how the University of Cincinnati has organized their V-Day Event this year.

2. Collect new and / or unopened perfume, bubble bath, lotions, and make-up. Any kind of feminine luxury item that a person in crisis could find comforting will do. Donate these items to a women’s shelter. “College Feminist Connect” posted an article describing their call to Action: Break-up to Make-up.

3. Maybe your closet is overflowing with Valentine Teddy Bears or other stuffed animals given to you by all of your admirers. Organize a “Teddy Bear and Friends” stuffed animal drive. Donate the assortment to a homeless or women’s shelter where there are bound to be children that can take comfort in a cuddly toy during a time of need. Here is how Connecticut College and Amherst joined forces in their Teddy Bear Drive to benefit a local Children’s Hospital.

4. If you have creative flare, you can make Valentine cards and centerpieces to take to a senior care facility. Here are several links with great craft ideas: Family Fun, Kaboose, Martha Stewart, All Free CraftsOrigami, Candy Free Cards, Valentine’s Day Messages. Talk to coordinators at the senior care facility to work out specific needs at the facility. For instance, candy may be off limits do to dietary regulations.

5. Many hall councils and other campus organizations sell some kind of flowers, candy-grams, or Valentine wishes. Here is a social media take on a traditional idea: Sell Facebook-grams or Twitter-grams on your organizations page or account. For a nominal fee (like $1.00) students can place orders prior to the holiday. Post or tweet the Valentine wishes and donate the money raised to an animal shelter like the ASPCA. Here are some examples of Valentine SMS.

What are some ways your campus organization gives back to the community on Valentine’s Day or any day during the year?  Our readers want to know. Please share your comments below!

Happy Valentine’s Day 2012 from StudentLifeGuru.com.
We LOVE our readers!
@studentlifeguru @reslifesynergy @mhelfrich98


Social Media as a Programming Strategy (*free resource handout*)

January 13, 2012

My Assistant Director, Justin Schiefelbein, (@ResLifeSynergy) and I have decided to use social media as component of our new community programming model with our community assistant staff. While most student affairs departments use Twitter, Facebook, blogs, and the like as a means to simply market or communicate departmental announcements, social media can be used as a platform for facilitating and assessing student learning outcomes.

We have decided to think “outside of the box” and incorporate the use of social media as a programming requirement with our community assistants. While the “traditional” programming model still has merit (which will we will continue to use), the opportunity to engage students online to educate and encourage dialogue is ripe with opportunity. This is even more so particularly because we are in charge of a large student apartment community, in which traditional programming can be a challenge.

Our community assistants are each required to develop two social media programs per semester. Each is given access to the community’s WordPress.com account (http://vulcanvillage.wordpress.com) so they can easily write blog posts related to their program. We provide them training so they know how to public using WordPress. Their submissions are first approved by us prior to us actually submitting them (i.e., they do not have direct access to publish). Access to other social media account are coordinated through all of our full-time staff so the CA’s have access.

Here are the guidelines / requirements that we are using for developing a social media program:

  • Utilize social media as a vehicle for the program (i.e., Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, blogging, LinkedIn, etc.)
  • Thoughtful, focused, and developed
  • Primarily educational in nature
  • Must include interaction in some form
  • Must be planned at least two weeks in advance, including sumission of program proposal
  • Cost = Maximum of $50 for any materials and / or prizes to induce participation and interaction (with prior approval); will be specific to your institution’s budgetary arrangements
  • Marketing: Use all avenues, including social media, email announcements, invitations, signage, etc.

Social media program examples:

  • Participating in Green Practices
  • Online Harassment & Bullying
  • Sex Ed: Are You Being Smart & Safe?
  • Alcohol Use & Abuse: When Enough is Too Much
  • How to Develop a Resume

Suggested tips:

  • Social media programs can be either one time or part of a semester-wide campaign. Example: our “Green Education” programming will continue over the course of the semester with multiple blog posts, Facebook and Twitter advice, YouTube videos, and educational webinars.
  • You can do polling and simple surveying to see what students want to learn at your college or university (“What do you hope to learn while here?” could be a simple Tweet or Facebook comment.)
  • Tie your social media programming to student learning outcomes based upon CAS and Learning Reconsidered Outcomes.
  • Assessment efforts can be utilized by using SurveyMonkey.com or another survey tool to pre-test and / or post-test participants. You can also simply use comments from Facebook and Twitter as qualitative and quantitative assessment data.

Here is a free Social Media Programming handout, which illustrates guidelines, programming examples, modes of interaction, how to encourage participation, and ways to assess.

Please feel free to share this resource with your student affairs colleagues.


10 Uses for Twitter within Student Affairs (free educational handout)

January 6, 2012

Twitter is a very powerful resource that all Student Affairs professionals should embrace and utilize on a daily basis to enhance their work. While many individuals within Student Affairs feel that Twitter is merely a novelty or distraction, there are in fact many purposeful ways in which Twitter can be used to advocate, educate, empower, and network with students and other Student Affairs professionals from across the globe. Here are 10 ways in which you can use Twitter within your department and division: 

  1. Program Publicity – One of the most practical and least complicated ways in which you can use Twitter is to publicize any and all events and programs that you may have. Tweeting event information days and hours prior to the actual program can serve as an easy event reminder. Program announcement tweets can also include website links for more details about the program, including registration information if applicable.
  2. Advising / Mentoring – Because Twitter is based on an SMS system (messaging), you can use it in order to communicate with students whom you advise and / or mentor. Simple tweets of encouragement or advice with those students who “follow” you can prove helpful in developing meaningful relationships. This can be done publicly for everyone to see or you can “direct message” the individual privately so only they can see the tweet.
  3. Program Assessment – Mining tweets for qualitative and quantitative data can be invaluable for program assessment and even departmental reviews. After a program, simply ask the students who attended to tweet the most important thing they learned and one question that they have remaining in 140 characters or less (or two tweets if necessary); this practice is called a “One Minute Paper.” Create and give them a “hashtag” associated with the program (e.g., #Greeklife12; #AOD12; #Wellness12; etc.) to include within their tweets so that you can track everyone’s tweets afterward. To encourage participation, those who tweet are eligible to win a raffled prize. You can aggregate tweets from over the course of a semester to illustrate evidence of the various student learning outcomes you have developed.
  4. Club & Organization Communication – Organization advisers and student leaders alike can tweet valuable information to the student members of their curricular and extracurricular clubs and organizations. Content related to the club’s interests can be tweeted and even discussed during regular club meetings.
  5. Staff & Student Recognition – Public displays of recognition for both staff and student achievements and contributions can mean the world to them. Tweeting a few words of kudos is a free and simple way to recognize students among their peers. As a bonus, this can help them to acquire more Twitter followers in the process.
  6. Staff Development & Training – Twitter is a wonderful way to find and share a wealth of resourceful information related to literally any topic. Using a “hashtag” along with a keyword in a twitter search (e.g., #leadership; #reslife; #greeklife; #studentaffairs; etc.) can help to easily find resources that others are tweeting and re-tweeting.
  7. Vendor Discounts – Tweets can be use as a marketing platform to create and spread bookstore, campus eatery, and special event (i.e., concerts, comedians) discounts. This tactic can be combined with various contests to reward those who respond to trivia questions 
  8. Leadership Development – Many tips, blog articles, and other associated leadership resources can be shared and discussed through Twitter. Students can tweet about their leadership experiences throughout the semester.
  9. Advice, Facts, and Tips – Twitter is a free and easy way to distribute department-specific educative information. Tweets related to student learning outcomes can be utilized as a part of a semester-long educational campaign. These tweets can include links to online resources for more extensive reading.
  10. Emergency Announcements – Twitter can be used as an effective way to send out emergency announcements to a large amount of students, faculty, and staffers. Keep in mind that individuals must follow you in order to receive the tweet. Obviously this emergency announcement strategy should be used in junction with other options such as mass texting, website updates, and email given that not everyone uses Twitter. 
Downlaod the FREE Twitter 101 for Student Affairs Professionals 9-page PDF handout. Please feel free to share this with your colleagues and students.
 

140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form (book review)

November 3, 2011

In 2009, one of the founders of Twitter, Dom Sagolla (@Dom), wrote the book 140 Characters: A Style Guide for the Short Form. This is a fun little read that not only has a sense of humor, but is also practical for those who are new to or are veterans of the Twitterverse.

The book is broken up in five parts (Lead, Value, Master, Evolve, and Accelerate) and 19 separate chapters. The titles of the chapters serve as snippets of advice themselves and is a nod to Strunk and White’s Elements of Style (you may remember this from high school or college composition or English). Here are a few examples:

  • Simplify: Say More with Less
  • Avoid: Don’t Become a Fable about Too Much Information
  • Reach: Understand Your Audience
  • Mention: Stamp Your Own Currency
  • Open: Give and You Shall Receive
  • Increase: Do More
  • Fragment: Do It Smaller

As is the case with many of the “self-help” Twitter books that I have read, 140 Characters comes complete with a short history of the founding of Twitter, practical tips, and recommended individuals to follow.

This is a nice resource for both professors and student affairs professionals alike. It is a short read (179 pages) that can be completed in one sitting and applied to various student learning applications, such as networking (career services), composition and writing (English / poetry / creative writing) and communication skills (leadership development / Greek Life / Residence Life / clubs & organizations).

Thanks for reading, and I encourage you to sign up for our blog updates to receive exclusive content and special offers. You can follow me on Twitter by clicking HERE.


10 Reasons to Blog in Student Affairs

July 26, 2011

No matter if you are an administrator or student leader, your department or organization should have a blog. Listed below are 10 reasons your student affairs organization should have a blog.

1. Connection: Blogs extend your reach. Students are attracted to the way blogs disseminate information. They can quickly scan and get the information they need. Students can also “Like” or “Tweet” information, pictures, videos, or web links posted to your blog to all the people they are connected with. This sharing of your groups information really helps to extend your mission to a larger audience. Don’t forget PARENTS! Your parents will also find your organizational blog a beneficial way to stay connected.

2. Current Information: By blogging you are getting your students the most current information instantly.  There is plenty of information you need to get your students quickly that could be educational, informative, imperative, or just plain fun.

Flood or loss of power? Post procedures and links to campus and town safety resources. Program this week? Post details to publicize and generate excitement. Afterwards, summarize the program and allow for extended learning and discussion. Your Greek Organization is volunteering? Post your blog reminders and updates. Take video or pictures during the event and post on your blog after the event.

3. Support:  Through your blog your students will have access to helpful information 24/7.  One part of your blog is the blog itself. There is also a “website” portion where you can add pages just like you would to a traditional website. Your pages contain your permanent information such as links to campus website, off-campus resources, student code of conduct, check in/out procedures, how to’s, do’s and don’ts, staff pictures and bios, and much more. Standard information that students need access to can be posted to the mainly static pages and the new, timely information will post to your blog on a regular basis. Blogs also allow for comments. This is another way that a student can approach your organization for assistance.  Just be certain to return comments in a timely manner.

4. Engagement: Blogs are interactive and engaging to your students!  Your blog can be full of pictures, videos, polls, comments, twitter feed, web links, and posting buttons for other types of social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn).

5. Exchange: Blogs are very useful in soliciting feedback. Blog comments and polls are very valuable in extending conversation between staff and students, students and students, or your organization and its broader world audience.

Of course kudos and positive comments are always welcome. The challenging and most beneficial comments can be those that are contrary, critical, or unfounded. If you take things too personally you might consider these to be “bad” comments.  But there are no bad comments, just good conversation.  Often a “bad” comment can come from a student that has a need or may feel slighted in some way. The way a blogger replies to comments can help shape opinions, educate, and diffuse situations.  Opportunities can spawn from blog comments like connections made, problems solved, face-to-face interactions created, and educational moments.

6. Scheduling: A blog that is updated with events, calendars, agendas, contests, and promotions will keep your students informed of what is going on in your residence hall, department, club or organization.

7. Predictability: When you update your blog daily, weekly, or on a routine basis, your students will know how and when to expect information.

8. Human Touch: Your blog will bring a personal nature to your technological web presence. Blogs are conversational and less formal in how information is presented. There can be a sense of fun with a blog, and it provides a “human touch” to an increasingly technologically-oriented student.

9. Assessment: Your organizational blog is an informal tool to assess what your students are learning, what goals are being met, and what changes you need to make. You can use comments and quick polls to gauge what students are learning from programs or other educational initiatives. If you use a free WordPress blog format such as this one, (StudentLifeGuru.com) you can track the effectiveness of your blog through statistics, track backs, and search terms.

10. Eco-Friendly:  Yes, it is time to kiss that monthly paper newsletter good-bye! Go green! Save some trees and start a blog for your organization.


Are you already blogging for your organization? What suggestions would you add to this top ten list to encourage others to begin a blog for their area? Have you received similar results from your blogging experiences?


Guest post for TheSABloggers.org: Content Rules (Social Media Book Review)

January 5, 2011

 I have written a new post for The Student Affairs Collaborative regarding a newly published (2011) book titled Content Rules: How to Create Killer Blogs, Podcasts, Videos, Ebooks, Webinars (and More) that Engage Customers and Ignite Your Business by Ann Handley (@MarketingProfs) and C. C. Chapman (@cc_chapman). Although the book is primarily written for entrepeneurs, the 282 page book would definitely benefit student affairs professionals and student leaders alike who are looking to develop and market educational and social program initiatives on campus.

Click HERE to read the entire article.


10 Resourceful Leadership Tweeps You Should Follow

November 12, 2010

Twitter has established itself as a critical and useful social media tool.  Simply by using the # (hash sign) coupled with your choice topic, you can tune into a global conversation with immediate results. As student leaders, graduate assistants, and higher education professionals, your interest in leadership and getting the most up-to-date and best leadership content is paramount to your work. 

@Studentlifeguru has been following #Leadership for nearly a year.  Below is a listing of the Top 10 Tweeters of quality leadership resources:

1. @LeadershipNow – Michael McKinney from Pasadena, CA posts great leadership insight, quotes, articles and resources. Profile: Lead From Where You Are. LeadershipNow works to build leaders at all levels and in all contexts. http://www.leadershipnow.com

2. @TheLeaderLab – With over 10,000 followers, LeaderLab prides itself in the advancement of leadership theory and practice. Profile: LeaderLab is a community of resources dedicated to the advancement of leadership theory. http://theleaderlab.org

3. @LeaderInfluence – LeaderInfluence is hosting an online event by posting video of 30 influential leaders for you to view for free. Profile: LEADERSHIP & INFLUENCE SUMMIT. A free online event. 30+ Leading Experts Share Strategies on How To Maximize Leadership and Influence Effectiveness. http://www.LeadershipAndInfluenceSummit.com

4. @LeadershipFreak – Dan Rockwell is the face behind LeadershipFreak and hosts a comprehensive blog that covers leadership topics ranging from conflict resolution to personal growth. Profile: Blogger, committed to helping leaders reach higher in 300 words or less. Connecting, listening, learning. MBA-Happily married. http://www.leadershipfreak.wordpress.com

5. @DrJohnMcGinn – Dr. John McGinn publishes a free newsletter, and as an incentive for signing up for his newsletter, you can receive a free e-book entitled “How to Build Self-Esteem.” Profile: Executive Coach, Leadership Consultant: Helping others achieve a more compelling, goal-oriented life, filled with significance and success. http://drjohnmcginn.com

6. @JohnCMaxwell – John C. Maxwell is one of foremost authorites on leadership on the globe. He is most well-known for his books, including The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership: Follow Them and People Will Follow You and The 360 Degree Leader: Developing Your Influence from Anywhere in the Organization. Profile: Bestselling author & speaker on leadership. Christian. Blogger. World traveler. Assisted here by Stephanie Wetzel (SW) admin@johnmaxwellonleadership.com http://johnmaxwellonleadership.com

7. @LeaderTalk – LeaderTalk is an awesome leadership blog  hosted by Mountain State University’s School of Leadership & Professional Development in Beckley, WV. They offer advice and free resources that you’ll find helpful! Profile: Mountain State University’s leadership blog. http://leadertalk.mountainstate.edu

8. @simonsinek – Simon Sinek hails from New York and offers insightful nuggets of information that are thought-provoking and useful in working with and leading people. Profile: To run and jump and laugh and cry and love and hope and imagine…to experience as much as I can all for one purpose: to inspire. http://www.simonsinek.com

9. @BrianKDodd – Brian Dodd is from Woodstock, GA and has an interesting and neat spin on leadership with a religious flair and a penchant for sports and pop culture. Profile: Brian Dodd is a church stewardship & leadership consultant. http://www.briandoddonleadership.com

10. @Nunavut_Teacher – Our friend from the Great White North (Nunavut, Canada) is a dedicated educator. I contend that leaders are teachers, and Brian offers great Tweets that any leader can benefit from! Profile: Grade9Teacher, thinker, change advocate, idea man, guitar man, technology guy, self directed learner, adding creativity into everything I do. http://nunavutteacher.blogspot.com/

Feel free to comment to this post, and let us know who you follow that offers great leadership advice, resources, and inspiration.


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