Advising in Public Spaces

I recently recommenced my practice of posting appointment reminders for my students on Facebook. This is an advising tool I’ve used since the fall of 2005 and have never received negative feedback nor experienced adverse repercussions on my relationship with my advisees because of it. Many thoughtful questions have been put to me by my colleagues over the years, and I thought it not a bad idea to address them in this post as I have in presentations and consultations in the past.

FERPA?

First and foremost, one must appreciate that every institution has its own version of FERPA compliance protocols. Regardless, my posting of dates and times of appointments with individual students tells those who can access my Facebook profile (and each individual post) nothing more than the fact that a certain students is meant to meet with me at a specific time on a certain day. I’m not sharing registration status, the meaning of the appointment, the location of said appointment . . .etc.

Trust and Privacy?

Everything I do as a university professional and educator is undertaken with the utmost sensitivity to learner-centered teaching. this being the case, I’ve dealt my students in on this approach to communicating advising information to them in a public space. I offer them an “opt out,” in advance, if they’re uncomfortable with the idea of appointment times being posted as a note on Facebook. And they’re always welcome to exercise an unofficial “opt out” simply by “un-friending” me (something that has rarely happened in the four years I’ve been using Facebook in my day-to-day work).

Finally, there is no aspect of academic advising that should need “privacy policing.” It’s imperative to what we do as professional advisors to de-stigmatize the learning support we offer. There is nothing remedial about my institution’s approach to academic advising, students aren’t being summoned “to the principle’s office” to be lectured and they shouldn’t be viewing appointments with us as something to hide. Again, in the end it’s about each individual student and her or his expectations and desires–it’s easy to deal them in and imperative that we do so.

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About Art

I've been a higher education professional for over 15 years and an Academic Advising administrator for the past eight of those. I have a background in exploratory student advising and have spent a great deal of time guiding students through contemplating their personal college-to-career pathways. I've published, presented, and consulted on the intersection of social media and academia and am a firm believer in social media's power as a tool for engagement rather than solely information delivery. I've worked at public and private institutions as well as 2-year colleges and 4-year universities. I believe in Academic Advising as a teaching and learning activity, that learner-centered education is the key to students' academic success, and that as long as we keep students' individual goals and success at the center of our decision-making process, the problem of college-level student attrition can be solved.
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5 Responses to Advising in Public Spaces

  1. Pingback: Twitted by ericstoller

  2. Eric Stoller says:

    Do you require that your students friend you on Facebook (and have an account on Facebook, not everyone uses it :-)) in order to receive appointment reminders? Or do they get a reminder via an alternative method?

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  3. Art says:

    Hi, Eric–good question.

    I push this information into various environments. First, our automated scheduling system sends them an email reminder to their .edu address. I redouble my efforts by posting this note on Facebook AND as an announcement on our LMS as all my students are in my Blackboard Organization. The LMS announcement is also posted on our university portal. So … Read Morethere are several levels on which they’re receiving the info. I try to place it in as many locations as possible in the hope of getting my students to “stumble” upon it. At the same time exercising caution to not “clog the drain” and be relegated to the spam file.. .it’s tricky.

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  4. Eric Stoller says:

    Do students have a preferred contact method or is it hit or miss depending on each student’s preference?

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  5. Art says:

    It’s hit or miss, really. I’ve run assessments before to see if I can forecast which sorts of students will respond best in which environment. . .once I was even able to identify successful change of behavior in a percentage of my population. Lately, I’ve been content knowing that if I spend fifteen minutes on the front end of sending announcements out in this manner, I have a strong chance of reaching 100% of my population.

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