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Blogging Bravely in Student Affairs

Blogging takes bravery.  It is found in the feeling a writer gets right before pushing publish.  Or the questions, fears and doubts buzzing in your mind, wondering if the post will be received or even read by anyone, other than your mom.  Revising, deleting and starting again.  Eventually sharing original works, attempting to promote but not coming across to pushy.  Celebrating the positive reactions as well as reflecting on challenging comments from readers.  Rinse and repeat.
My Blogging Story
While I made attempts in the past, January 2013 is when I consider I really began to blog.  Past efforts always found intimidation around every corner.  So what does an achieving-strategic doctoral student do to overcome this?  Set a goal.
I would blog every day for 50 days…and I did it!  Some days I wrote a lot, finding a pocket of passion, but other days were posts I was not so proud of either because I was rushed or later found grammatical errors.  However overtime, forcing myself to write everyday and most importantly pushing myself to ‘publish’ daily, the intimidation of blogging wore off.
But I still stayed away from sharing the work I was creating in my doctoral program.  I wanted it to be a purely personal blog, which would offer me a balance outside the classroom.  I soon realized this was another area where fear was in my way.  I worked up the courage and by the summer I started writing about my research and topical interests around social media in higher education.  To my surprise and delight, my blog grew and so did my levels of bravery.
To date I have published 112 posts, attempting to release weekly.  Every post takes a bit of bravery, some more than others.  I share this post not to just share my story, but to establish the importance of blogging in my field of student affairs.  I knew that my experience of being brave as a blogger was shared among my colleagues.  So much so, that I proposed a session for a national organization called NASPA to present at their annual national conference which will be held just next week March 15th-19th.
This post will promote this session, as well as my amazing presenter team and why student affairs should care about blogging.
NASPA 2014 Educational Session: Blogging Bravely

On Monday March 17th 11:05-11:55am PST at the NASPA National Conference in Baltimore, MD I will be facilitating an educational session called Blogging Bravely, located at the Baltimore Convention Center room 332.  The session will offer the perspectives of five student affairs bloggers, the brave steps they have taken to sharing content online and how you to join the blogger community in student affairs.
Content will include blogging resources, high impact practices, blogger code of ethics and reflection activities to explore post ideas.  As the conference program lists,

Want to be an online Student Affairs Leader?  Blogging can extend your reach as an innovative and transformational leader in the field.  This type of leadership presence online takes courage.  Blogging bravely challenges higher education leaders to define purpose, voice and niche to transform higher education.  Participants will receive hands-on tools for the development and creation of their own blog.  Best practices will be highlighted from research and bloggers in higher education.

Even if you cannot attend the session, please join our backchannel at #SAwrites, as well as the entire NASPA conference backchannel at #NASPA14.  Presenters will respond on twitter before, during and after the session.
Blogging Bravely Presenter Team
Social media is a major component for bloggers to share content and globally connect with others interested on similar topics.  Following this context, when I developed the session I put a call out via twitter asking if there were any student affairs bloggers interested in presenting.  Within the day we had our team, all introduced, connected and formulated through twitter.  I simply cannot express how excited I am to bring us all together in one room.  Below is more about each of us, what we write about and how to find our blogs.
IMG_1574ccrt-2750775894-OJosie Ahlquist (that’s me!) is a doctoral student at California Lutheran University, studying Higher Education Leadership.  Her blog is found at www.josieahlquist.com.  Today she blogs about higher education and social media, showcasing her research from course projects, best practices in the field and soon two social media & leadership studies.  She also is producing a series called The Doers, where 20 women will be featured that balance a life of authentic living, while passionately pursing their life purpose.
amma fall headshotAmma Marfo is a new professional to the field of student affairs, in her third year as a student affairs professional as the Assistant Director of Student Activities, Involvement and Assessment at Emmanuel College.  She started her blog, capturing her experiences as a new profession, during her time at Florida State University. What began as an exercise in personal reflection has expanded to become a tool to discuss trends in the field, thoughts on interesting articles and other publications, and a place to encourage creativity and innovation in her work and the work of others. You can find her blog at ammamarfo.wordpress.com.
Marci Walton is the Resident Director for the Loyola Residential Learning Community at Santa Clara University. She is active member of the #SAchat community and has began blogging about social justice, service and student affairs at https://marcikwalton.wordpress.com/.  She is particularly interested in growing the definition of “storytelling” in our field through innovative technology.
Chris Conzen is the Director of Campus Activities and Student Leadership Development at Suffolk County Community College and the chair for the Region II 2014 conference. Chris served for two years as the “Communications Team Lead” for Region II, a new position on the Advisory Board tasked to manage the region’s use of social media as way to communicate with members. In addition, Chris also maintains a personal blog where he reflects on parenthood, work, and current topics in student affairs at https://www.conzen.com/.
Renee Piquette Dowdy works for Synergos, AMC where she serves as the Assistant Director of Education & Curriculum Design.  Renee currently blogs on student affairs career development, office culture, and current higher education trends from www.reneepdowdy.com, her interest in blogging began in 2001 with a Xanga account to stay in touch with high school friends. Renee currently serves as the blog editor for the Women in Student Affairs (WISA) Knowledge Community where over 1,000 unique visitors view posts each month.
Why is Blogging Important for Student Affairs Professionals?
I believe there is a growing momentum of blogging in the field of Student Affairs as a medium of professional development, expression and connection.  I hope this session, and even this post, continues to support and challenge educators to become content creators online through blogging platforms.  Student Affairs educators embracing and implementing tools of social media are setting a new bar for higher education leadership.

Blogging is one of the many resources available in exploring online and mobile platforms.  Through social media, educational leaders can “engage in the creation and development of content and gather online to share knowledge, information, and opinions using web-based applications and tools” (Grover & Stewart, 2010. p. 9).  Because of this technology, we can be chief construction officers shaping how our field utilizes professional blogging to enhance our work.

Blogging challenges leaders to be innovative, as they establish a presence and identity online.  Studying the psychology of blogging, Laura Guark and Smiljana Antonijevic (2008), found that this digital activity produces twofold communication.  First, bloggers establish their own voice and expression.  Secondly, they are transformed by interactions with their audience, which the author calls ‘rewriting oneself.’  This transformation process makes blogging a process of linking two or more individuals not known before (Guark & Antonijevic, 2008).  The potential blogging has in the field of student affairs is significant by constructing links globally for knowledge sharing, networking, advancement and much more.
However with this opportunity brings challenges.  This includes the professional role one holds at their institution, existing employer policies and personal/professional boundaries.  One must weigh the pros and cons when considering creating a blog site.  Many authors believe that the positives outweigh the risks, “Blogging allows you to speak out authentically on your own behalf, and in the long run people will recognize that. Do it consistently and they trust you” (Nackerud & Scaletta, 2008).
Join the Student Affairs Blogger Community #SAwrites
Whether you blog or not, as colleagues we should support each other.  In addition, I encourage you to join the discourse by commenting, sharing and building the momentum of student affairs writers, researchers and thought leaders in higher education.
To help support this, I’ve been curating a list of student affairs bloggers on the following twitter list: https://twitter.com/josieahlquist/lists/student-affairs-bloggers.  Please subscribe to see the inspiring work of our colleagues!  Also, contact me through direct message on twitter if you are a blogger and would like to be added to this list!
Find the slide deck (here).
Esteves, J.  (2008).  Where is your blog?  Business Strategy Review, Winter 2008.
Grover, A., & Stewart, D. W. (2010). Defining interactive social media in an educational context. In C. Wankel & M. Marovich & J. Stanaityte (Eds.), Cutting edge social media approaches to business education: Teaching with LinkedIN, Facebook, Twitter, Second Life, and Blogs (pp7-38). Charlotte, NC: Information Age Publishing.
Gurak, L. & Antonijevic, S.  (2008).  The Psychology of Blogging You, Me, and Everyone in Between.  American Behavioral Scientist, 52(1), 60-68.
Nackerud, S. & Scaletta, K.  (2008).  Blogging in the Academy.  New Directions for Student Services, 124, 71-87.

About Josie

I’m Dr. Josie Ahlquist—a digital engagement and leadership consultant, researcher, educator, and author. I’m passionate about helping people and organizations find purposeful ways to connect, engage, and tell their unique story. I provide consulting, executive coaching, and training for campuses, companies, and organizations that want to learn how to humanize technology tools and build effective and authentic online communities.

My blog and podcast have been recognized by EdTech Magazine, Inside Higher Ed and the Chronicle of Higher Education. My book, Digital Leadership in Higher Education, was published in 2020 and was listed as a #1 new release for college and university student life. I have been growing my consultancy since 2013 and am based in Los Angeles. When I’m not helping clients lead online, you might find me training for a triathlon, spoiling my nieces and nephews, or exploring with my husband and our rescue dogs in our new RV called Lady Hawk.

I’d love to connect! Find me on Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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Rebekah Tilley

Assistant Vice President, University of Iowa Center for Advancement

Rebekah Tilley is the assistant vice president of communication and marketing for the University of Iowa Center for Advancement (UICA). In that role she supports fundraising and alumni engagement efforts for the university, including its CASE Gold winning Iowa Magazine, and serves UICA in a variety of strategic communication efforts.

Previously she was the director of strategic communication for the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business, and the director of communication for the University of Kentucky College of Law. She is a Kentucky native and a proud alum of the University of Kentucky.

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