Posts by Jeff Jackson
It was not that long ago I graduated from college. Granted current freshman were only 6 years old at the time, but I remember it vividly. I remember the ensuing job search and the difficulties of finding my first “real world” employment. People made it sound like I could walk off stage with my diploma in hand, and employers would line up to offer me a job. The reality was much different.
OrgSync works with many great student leaders, and we want to help them find their first job. Students, given the current economic situation, we understand that times are tough. So you should be prepared and at your best. OrgSync will be providing resources for showcasing your skills to future employers including resume writing, co-curricular transcripts, and more. In the coming weeks, several guest bloggers will be giving their take on career preparation and their insight into conquering the job search.
OrgSync will be publishing several eBooks this fall. We want to give the higher ed community an opportunity to contribute to our eBooks in an effort to help other Student Affairs Administrators across the country. It is becoming increasingly important for Student Affairs Professionals to have a voice and find publishing opportunities so we have made it easy for you!
We are currently taking submissions for the following eBooks:
Best Practices for Programming on a Tight Budget
By sharing your department’s process for programming on a tight budget, you are helping campuses sustain their co-curricular programs! As budgets are still getting cut, we realize the importance of implementing successful programs that connect students and help build a community on campus. How has your department adjusted to recent budget cuts to offer free or cheap programming on your campus?
You can submit entries here
Deadline: Sept 30th
You can submit your entries here
Deadline: September 30th
Today’s Guest blogger is Glen Baumgart, a longtime friend of mine in higher education. Glen has been working with higher education community engagement programs for over 12 years, and currently serves as the Director of the Volunteer and Service Learning Center at The University of Texas at Austin.
If you work in higher education, then you have heard this line before, “I learned more outside the classroom than in the classroom” as students reflect on what they have learned and how they have grown. There is a lot of truth to that statement. In the classroom, students wrap their minds around theories, concepts, lessons, and content. But it is outside the classroom in student organizations, internships, community service activities, leadership programs, and other experiences where students are challenged with putting this new knowledge into action. And its not just putting knowledge to action, but integrating this new knowledge into the fabric of their lives, their morals, values, goals, and social interactions.
Universities and colleges seem to be well aware of this. Look at any institution of higher learning, and you will see a number of professional positions aimed at outside the classroom learning and programming. And the learning is very intentional. Ask any leadership, housing, community service, career, or programming staff what students learn through their programs, and they are sure to rattle off a laundry list of learning outcomes. But ask how that learning is measured, and you would likely hear staff mention a lack of assessment, or mention reliance on evaluation surveys or on quick reflection discussions. The assessment or measure of learning seems much less rigorous than that of an academic course with its grades, assignments, measures, and evaluations.
But it is possible to beef up the rigor of co-curricular programs in a way that matches the rigor often seen in academic coursework. To do this, we start by looking at the abundant research on college classroom learning. We know what works, and can identify the most important elements in classroom instruction that lead to learning. So, lets apply what works to achieve learning outcomes in the classroom, and apply them to our co-curricular programs.
The following components are used most often by teaching effectiveness professionals in higher education and used in research on classroom learning to help faculty improve their course structures. Lets use these elements, but adjust them to fit or co-curricular programs. Think of it as creating a co-curricular syllabus:
1. Identify the learning outcomes
Sounds easy, but this is likely the hardest part. Most college courses only have three to five learning outcomes – understand this theory, know this lab skill, etc. Three to five, and that’s when the instructor has three hours of student attention per week. In co-curricular terms, its wise to start with just one specific learning outcome. What is the most important learning outcome your program teaches?
2. Evaluation or measurement system
How will the student know they have met the desired outcomes? Try to describe in measurable terms what the learning outcome would look like. Is there a certain behavior? Do students respond to a survey in a certain way? How would they demonstrate the desired outcome?
It is important to start with these two components. It is from here that one build the rest of the co-curricular syllabus.
3. Students MUST understand the learning goals
This is the most missed component in college courses, but one of the most important. If your goal is for students to learn a specific outcome, then tell them that at the start. Students who understand the goals from the start are more likely to cue into the instructional techniques. A good practice for this is to make sure the outcome is part of the recruitment / application process.
4. Estimate prior knowledge
What do the students know in regards to your learning outcome prior to joining the program? A simple survey or questions on an application can help you understand where your students are coming from. In course lingo, we call these “prerequisites”, and most co-curricular programs have them too, but are seldom stated. What experiences or knowledge should the students in the program bring with them? If a certain prior knowledge is important, then that should be part of your recruitment or advertising.
5. Estimate motivation and interest in the learning outcome
Any course should be designed to peak the student’s interest by not being too difficult, but not being too easy either. This is why the prior knowledge is so important. Students must have some motivation or interest in the topic, otherwise it unlikely they will learn. This will help in designing the logistics of the program to help determine what might be boring, or what might be overwhelming. How does your program maximize students’ interest? How will it keep them motivated to finish?
6. Now develop the actual instruction logistics
Huge mistake by instructors and program coordinators alike, we tend to jump into the program’s logistics before we think about learning outcomes, measures, prior knowledge, or motivation. We tend to start creating a program, then looking back to what is being learned. Try, and its hard to do, but try to answer the first five components first before any thoughts on how you’ll do it.
7. Identify the learning moments
Another often missed component in course construction as well as co-curricular. As you plan the instruction, think hard about when instruction is actually taking place. If it’s a course, then you know you have time in a classroom when the instructor teaches, and that assignments must be done for grades. So, it is during these times you know students are interacting with material. In co-curricular it is much harder to identify the time. Some groups meet only once a week. So, during that hour meeting, when is it and under what circumstances do you know students are paying attention to instruction? Is there a time for reflection? What about online chats? Tweets? If you can identify the most likely time the student learns, the more impactful the program will be.
8. Evaluate and adjust
Look at your measurement instruments, your surveys, and make adjustments for next time. Try to be creative in your evaluation. Lets say your learning outcome was the understanding of a certain leadership concept. Then send the students an online survey during the following semester. See if they still have that understanding. If so, success! Now you can really say that they learned that concept.
These steps are often used to help increase the effectiveness in college courses. Shifting them a little, one can use them to help ensure a rigorous learning experience in the co-curricular program.
Also See our interview with Glen when we were on the UT campus this past summer.
It happens to everyone eventually. If it has not happened to you, it will; and when it does it will floor you. There is that time and moment when you realize you are no-longer young. It may happen when you make a cultural reference and no one around you knows what you are talking about. I still remember a couple of years ago referencing the “Turkey Drop” Episode from WKRP and everyone around me said “what is WKRP” (some of you are probably saying that now).
Well Beloit College helps me feel a little older everyday when they publish their College Mindset List. The list provides a look at the cultural touchstones that shape the lives of students entering college. I think this list is vital and valuable information to start the year off with. Is there anything that surprises you about the list? What would you add to the list?
The Beloit College Mindset List for the Class of 2013
Most students entering college for the first time this fall were born in 1991.
- For these students, Martha Graham, Pan American Airways, Michael Landon, Dr. Seuss, Miles Davis, The Dallas Times Herald, Gene Roddenberry, and Freddie Mercury have always been dead.
- Dan Rostenkowski, Jack Kevorkian, and Mike Tyson have always been felons.
- The Green Giant has always been Shrek, not the big guy picking vegetables.
- They have never used a card catalog to find a book.
- Margaret Thatcher has always been a former prime minister.
- Salsa has always outsold ketchup.
- Earvin “Magic” Johnson has always been HIV-positive.
- Tattoos have always been very chic and highly visible.
- They have been preparing for the arrival of HDTV all their lives.
- Rap music has always been main stream.
- Chocolate chip cookie dough ice cream has always been a flavor choice.
- Someone has always been building something taller than the Willis (née Sears) Tower in Chicago.
- The KGB has never officially existed.
- Text has always been hyper.
- They never saw the “Scud Stud” (but there have always been electromagnetic stud finders.)
- Babies have always had a Social Security Number.
- They have never had to “shake down” an oral thermometer.
- Bungee jumping has always been socially acceptable.
- They have never understood the meaning of R.S.V.P.
- American students have always lived anxiously with high-stakes educational testing.
- Except for the present incumbent, the President has never inhaled.
- State abbreviations in addresses have never had periods.
- The European Union has always existed.
- McDonald’s has always been serving Happy Meals in China.
- Condoms have always been advertised on television.
- Cable television systems have always offered telephone service and vice versa.
- Christopher Columbus has always been getting a bad rap.
- The American health care system has always been in critical condition.
- Bobby Cox has always managed the Atlanta Braves.
- Desperate smokers have always been able to turn to Nicoderm skin patches.
- There has always been a Cartoon Network.
- The nation’s key economic indicator has always been the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
- Their folks could always reach for a Zoloft.
- They have always been able to read books on an electronic screen.
- Women have always outnumbered men in college.
- We have always watched wars, coups, and police arrests unfold on television in real time.
- Amateur radio operators have never needed to know Morse code.
- Belarus, Moldova, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Armenia, Latvia, Georgia, Lithuania, and Estonia have always been independent nations.
- It’s always been official: President Zachary Taylor did not die of arsenic poisoning.
- Madonna’s perspective on Sex has always been well documented.
- Phil Jackson has always been coaching championship basketball.
- Ozzy Osbourne has always been coming back.
- Kevin Costner has always been Dancing with Wolves, especially on cable.
- There have always been flat screen televisions.
- They have always eaten Berry Berry Kix.
- Disney’s Fantasia has always been available on video, and It’s a Wonderful Life has always been on Moscow television.
- Smokers have never been promoted as an economic force that deserves respect.
- Elite American colleges have never been able to fix the price of tuition.
- Nobody has been able to make a deposit in the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI).
- Everyone has always known what the evening news was before the Evening News came on.
- Britney Spears has always been heard on classic rock stations.
- They have never been Saved by the Bell
- Someone has always been asking: “Was Iraq worth a war?”
- Most communities have always had a mega-church.
- Natalie Cole has always been singing with her father.
- The status of gays in the military has always been a topic of political debate.
- Elizabeth Taylor has always reeked of White Diamonds.
- There has always been a Planet Hollywood.
- For one reason or another, California’s future has always been in doubt.
- Agent Starling has always feared the Silence of the Lambs.
- “Womyn” and “waitperson” have always been in the dictionary.
- Members of Congress have always had to keep their checkbooks balanced since the closing of the House Bank.
- There has always been a computer in the Oval Office.
- CDs have never been sold in cardboard packaging.
- Avon has always been “calling” in a catalog.
- NATO has always been looking for a role.
- Two Koreas have always been members of the UN.
- Official racial classifications in South Africa have always been outlawed.
- The NBC Today Show has always been seen on weekends.
- Vice presidents of the United States have always had real power.
- Conflict in Northern Ireland has always been slowly winding down.
- Migration of once independent media like radio, TV, videos and compact discs to the computer has never amazed them.
- Nobody has ever responded to “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up.”
- Congress could never give itself a mid-term raise.
- There has always been blue Jell-O.
The sound of birds chirping or the sound of people talking?
These days, no matter what I’m watching or reading, Twitter seems to be a major topic. But what exactly is twitter?
Twitter is similar to a lot of things, but unlike anything. It is like blogging, but there is a 140 character limit. It is like the Facebook status, but is not limited to just friends. It is like instant messaging, but all your followers can read it. Simply put, it is a universal status message answering the question “What are you doing?”
Twitter has a strange name and a stranger vernacular surrounding it. People use words and phrases like: “twitterati,” “tweple,” or “I just tweeted.” Before I decided to try Twitter, I was warned that initially it would seem completely stupid, and as a newbie, it did seem stupid. I did not and could not see the point of the hype of it; however, now, it is my most used social network.
I first realized the power of Twitter and the power of an online community when a US Airways plane landed in the Hudson River. Instantaneously, this message was tweeted with a photo of the plane in the Hudson. It was then forwarded (or in Twitter terms, “retweeted”) throughout the twittersphere before traditional media outlets even heard about the event.
Nielsen Online reported that at the end of 2008, social networking surpassed the popularity of email. For those of you still trying to communicate with listserves , there is still time. If you want to effectively communicate with an audience then go to the audience.
Twitter’s capabilities are infinite! I have a constant twitter search for OrgSync, so I always know what people are saying about us. Comcast and Dell, creatively use Twitter for customer service request. At conferences, speakers take questions through Twitter and participants are then able to engage in discussion during the session. Twitter enables you to send notifications, updates, and reminders out instantly.
What are other ways you are using Twitter on your campus?
If you have specific questions please leave a comment and we would love to address them. It will help guide us in future posts.