If the students with whom you work are anything like mine, they run about a mile a minute. Many students are juggling school, work, and personal lives while doing their best to prepare for their professional futures. When you add in the responsibilities of being a student leader in (often more than) one student organization, the hours in each day become taken up quickly. This leaves very little wiggle room in their busy agendas, even if they do share the same amount of time in their day as Beyonce.
Think about it. Have you ever tried scheduling a weekly meeting with a group of students? Trying to find a time that accommodates all advisors and students is easier said than done. Expecting students to find even more free time for advisement in the form of a workshop or training often proves more difficult.
I have found that when students need/want information related to student organization development, it is not always during business hours. Upon returning to the office each morning and having multiple requests for assistance navigating membership in student organizations, processes, and policies, yet seeing little to no attendance at our regularly scheduled student organization workshops, we opted to go in a different direction. Rather than planning formal workshops where students would receive education and training related to student organization policies, we decided to advise and guide them in a different way –utilizing technology.
DePaul University uses an online engagement tool for our student organizations. Through this platform, we are able to house the student organization registration process and provide useful resources to students when they need it most (read: when we are likely fast asleep). By embracing an online venue for student organization support, we are able to accomplish three goals:
- increase engagement between student leaders and our office
- improve access to student organization trainings and resources
- provide more efficient student organization support opportunities
One example of this is shifting from an in-person workshop model to providing online video tutorials. These videos increase efficiency two-fold: the information is condensed to 6 minutes or less, and it provides an audio and visual representation of the information being presented. Moreover, it can be paused, rewound, or fast forwarded, and it is available to students whenever they have an immediate need or question. Our office has created several videos to date, including but not limited to:
- Accessing Information about the Student Activity Fee
- How to Apply for Funding through the Student Activity Fee
- How to Create an On-Campus Account for your Student Organization
- How to Create an Event (and Increase Visibility)!
- How to Create a Pre-Registration form for your Event
- How to Request Free Pepsi Products for your Student Organization
- Registering a New Organization
- Renewing Your Student Organization
We continue to seek feedback from students and colleagues about other opportunities to use these video tutorials as part of the educational student organization advising process. [Have one? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org!]
While we cannot track physical student attendance using this method, we are able to track page views on the YouTube account where these videos are housed. All videos were created [FOR FREE!] through a program called Screencast-o-matic and are shareable via social media, email, or during an in-person interaction within our office.
This is not to say that videos are an alternative to advising.
Instead, we have seen more students take advantage of the services and resources our office provides. They spend less time trudging through the snow, catching the train between our two urban campuses, or taking time away from more pressing needs throughout their day. They work smarter, not harder, to get the information and support necessary to operate effectively as a student organization leader. Additionally, we are able to better utilize the time spent by the graduate student, undergraduate students, and full-time employees who oversee student organizations. The students we advise are now able to get the “meat and potatoes” necessary for effective student organization operations, both online and at their convenience. Now the time they spend in our physical office locations are saved primarily for one-on-one meetings, executive board meetings, and general student support.
How can you incorporate online learning opportunities for the student organizations you advise?
How can you work smarter (rather than harder) with the time you have to spend with your student leaders?
This post is part of our month-long series #OrgAdvising, an in-depth look at the different aspects of the student organization advisor role. This series hopes to bring front-and-center a role otherwise overlooked or forgotten in the discussion of “advisor.” For more information, see the intro post by Cindy Kane! Check out the other posts in this series too!