Tag Archives: #lurkingislearning

Need Not be Present to Learn: Distance Learning from #ACPA15

I had a great ACPA experience. I learned a ton, I was challenged, I connected with other student affairs professionals, I debated the merits of ideas in the field, and I widened my professional circle. I supported my friends, asked questions to presenters, connected an awesome SA grad with an equally awesome SA pro, and I already have ideas of how to take my conference experience back to my campus.

The catch is that I accomplished all of this from the comfort of my apartment. I cooked dinner, took my dog for a walk, worked on a blog, called a friend, and in between, grew as a professional. This is all because of the vibrant Twitter backchannel, generous pros who documented their “a-ha” moments, as well as their struggles with the conference experience through blog posts and copious tweets. While I wasn’t able to feel the energy in the room of the annual Cabaret, I caught snippets of Instagram videos and more pictures than I knew what to do with. And you had better believe I will watch every single Pecha Kucha once they are posted online.

The days of in person conference attendance being a requirement for learning are over. There’s no excuse. Can’t afford to go to both national conferences or any conferences at all? So what. Get online. Engage. Ask questions. Critically reflect. I didn’t spend a single dime and still feel like I had one of the most fruitful conference experiences of my career.

Does my online experience take the place of sitting in a session and dialoguing in person? Of course not. The feeling of seeing an old friend, being challenged by a mentor, or running into a faculty member in the hallway will never be recreated online, but learning? Learning is always on the table. It’s up to you whether or not you take a seat. 

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It’s About Time

That’s it. I’ve been lurking for far too long. I’m leaning in or jumping in or any other analogy you would like to use about leaving fears behind and just doing.

Whew, now that that’s out of the way, let’s get down to business. I have been intrigued by the #SAchat community for some time. About a year ago, I found the hashtag and for many Thursdays after that I would scroll through posts and nod my head in silent agreement. This was all within the safety of my office. It wasn’t until a few weeks ago that I decided to participate. I must say it was one of the more immediately rewarding professional development opportunities I have experienced. There was no “conference high” to come down from, no stack of business cards to follow-up with, no sense of “Sure, that was great on YOUR campus, but it would never work here.” In short, it was a reflective dialogue within a community of colleagues, most of which I have never met in person.

This initial experience made me want to explore even further. It turned on a light somewhere and made me realize what a wealth of knowledge exists from the comfort of our own computers. I was also particularly inspired by the Student Affairs women bloggers who quite simply put.it.out.there. (I’m looking at you Stacy Oliver, Becca Obergefel, Ann Marie Klotz, Renee Piquette Dowdy, and many others.)

I was fired up and ready to post. But then the voice in the back of my head started nagging me with sentiments like “Will anyone actually read anything you post?” “What could you possibly have to offer the field?” “You are in no position to share ‘wisdom’ with others.” It was at about this time that Cindy Kane posted an excellent post on the “Imposter Syndrome.” In a rare moment of seeing beyond my own self-imposed limitations, I realized I was talking myself out of blogging, of sharing my point of view, of contributing to this field that I love so much.

So here I am. Blogging. Posting. Worrying more about content and less about format. Realizing that I’m making a commitment to reflection and contribution to the conversation. If nary a soul ever sees these posts, as least I will have quieted that voice in my head that says I wasn’t able to do it.

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