Archive for the ‘Higher Education’ Category

Furniture Delivery + Student Affairs

March 4, 2011 1 comment

@RKaplan13 and I received our bedroom set this week and as it turns out, the room and the furniture aren’t getting along too well. Our furniture is HUGE! Our bedroom, not so much.

As we looked, thought, fought, rearranged, looked, thought, fought, I couldn’t help but have a voice in the back of my head saying, “you know this can relate to student affairs right?” Sometimes I really dislike the voice, other times, I love the fact that my passion for student affairs is so deep that I can relate any everyday experience to it.

First off, we did NOT run into this issue (luckily).

Now let’s dig into the metaphor shall we?

Think of orientation, residence life, or any other large community/event on your campus that is looked upon as the cure-all for your campus woes or highlights. Every department/division wants a piece of it; they want to put their dresser, their love seat, their night stand into your room.

Wanting to be the collaborator on campus, you welcome and work the politics of wanting to make everyone support of your program while you support their causes. Here is where things can get sticky.

Some rooms (programs) simply are not equipped to fit everyones furniture (more programs).

Sometimes, a living only needs a sofa, love seat, coffee table, and desk. That’s what a living room mainly needs to be equipped with; it gives you a place to converse, relax, and enjoy company. A living room does not need a sofa, love seat, end tables, coffee table, recliner, TV, bookshelf, desk, ottoman, decorative flowers, art on the walls, fine carpet, and a sofa table. That is no longer a living room, it is a over crowded, cluttered, mess that no longer is a comfortable place to relax never mind attempt to live.

That being said, when it comes time to plan your course, living learning community, orientation, or even your floor program – just remember what the purpose of your program is and stick to it. Simple rooms often say more than rooms that have it all.

In the meantime, we must find a place for our second night stand.

Rock on,


Was Daniel Pink educated by the Jesuits?

February 17, 2011 Leave a comment

I read Daniel Pink. I love the Pink Blog. I love Drive. I think his studies and TED talk on motivation are interesting, moving, and a hot plate for new research in higher education. Personally, his mention of “grit” in Drive has led to a small campus project revolving around what could possibly make my institution’s students stand out amongst superior business school students.

Along with this blog, I also try to do a small quote of the day e-mail to a group of people who first showed interest in it 2 years ago when I started it. Since I have taken over a director position, it has been extremely difficult to keep up and maintain it. However, I try at least once a week to send the small group a quote, a story, or a link to a blog post I found interesting. The last one I sent the group was a series of questions that Daniel Pink wants us to ask ourselves at the end of our day. Here they are:

How did the day go? What success did I experience? What challenges did I endure?

What did I learn today? About myself? About others? What do I plan to do — differently or the same — tomorrow?

Who did I interact with? Anyone I need to update? Thank? Ask a question? Share feedback?
Read them again. If you are Jesuit trained having worked at an institution and/or have been educated at an institution that is affiliated with the Jesuits, you could see this:

How did the day go? (Contemplatives in Action) What success did I experience? (MAGIS: Striving for Excellence) What challenges did I endure (Contemplatives in Action, MAGIS)

What did I learn today? (Care for the Whole Person) About myself ? (Contemplatives in Action) About others? (Being Men & Women for Others)

Who did I interact with? (Being Men & Women for Others) Anyone I need to update? Thank? Ask a question? Share feedback? (Contemplatives in Action)

So while Mr. Pink may not have been educated by the Jesuits, it certainly sent a message that fits right into their values. Or…perhaps it wasn’t his education or his thought process in making them. Maybe it was my own education and “lens” of processing that has led me to see things in light of the Jesuit values.

Either way, those series of questions are important and interesting to ask yourself – even just once a week. Try it out and see what your answers are…were you surprised?

Rock on,



Special thanks to Deb Cady Melzer, life coach, mentor, and former supervisor for pointing out the Jesuit message in every day occurrences and surroundings.

Snow/Ice Day + Tweetdeck = Reflection

February 2, 2011 3 comments

I write about Twitter perhaps more than I should. I could write about my 52 books in 52 weeks journey that many others are also doing. I could write some responses to some of the articles in my Gmail from the Chronicle of Higher Education because they are usually good for starting ideas. I could write about what is it like to live in a house with two 100lb dogs, 3 cats, and 1 ferret. I could write movie reviews. I could, I could, I could…but I choose Twitter because there is just SO much that comes from this service that you can talk about.

Today I have a few simple words: community, growth, gratitude.

I’ll elaborate briefly on each because if I don’t limit myself, this would turn into an e-book of cliches, raves, and analogies.


I use Tweetdeck and currently have about 15 columns on the desktop application. When I open it I immediately see feeds for #SAchat, #StudentActivites, #highered, #edtech, #saLEAD, amongst a few others. My favorite part about this is that Twitter went from being a professional development and news delivery service to something resembling a block party. No longer is it necessary to wait for a regional/national conference to discuss higher ed with colleagues. No more is there the need to stalk Facebook to start conversations or catch up on what is going on in your colleagues lives.  No more is there a need to count on the newsletters from professional organizations to hear about the latest practices in the field. Twitter is now an on-demand, at your desktop, come and get it venue for all of those! When I open Tweetdeck…it is like opening my front door to see the neighbors and say hello. While we may not see their faces or some may not follow you back, people are sharing, teaching, and learning. I can’t help but think that sometimes looking at the #SAchat feed is like Tim Allen on Home Improvement walking into his backyard to talk to Wilson, the sage who never showed more than his eyes from behind the fence.

If you want to see this community in action, watch some of the self made hashtags some have created to support each other including: #saGrow #saDOC and a much smaller, more focused one that is great to follow to keep some #saDOCs going with support, #statsjail.


Watching Twitter and a following some of the thought leaders (@ReyJunco, @EricStoller) and social media celebrities (@EdCabellon, @StacyLOliver, @The_SA_Blog) in higher education has led, to what I think, has been the most developmental year in my professional career. I joined Twitter as an #saGrad when it first arrived on campus but did not know how to use it. I became engaged with 2 years later Twitter while in a position that had allowed me the time to explore this realm of social media. Since then, I have moved into director position at my alma mater which is a huge opportunity with lots of responsibility and an obvious need to growth professionally with my approach, thinking, and presence. Twitter has been my advisor throughout this entire process. As I continue to grow in my position and expand my reach on Twitter as well as other social media avenues – it has been those that I follow that have served as my coaches. In addition to those already mentioned, following the likes of @Kathy_Petras @OberBecca @DebraSanborn @CarolynGolz @CindyKane @jefflail @tbump and…well I could go on for a while with all of the followers that have taught me something since day 1 but remember I said keeping it brief. The point is this, Twitter has become the watering hole for professional development due to the community I follow and participate in. Twitter has become the backchannel for the larger conference that takes place in Higher Education, it’s called “everyday in the office.”


As I have already given shout outs to many Twitter users that show up on my stream and whose tweets I constantly favorite to read later, I must give thanks. I am a better professional, communicator, creator, writer, contributor, participant, supervisor, student, mentor, coach, advisor, presenter, and person for the growth, support, connections, network, skills, advice, role models, and opportunities that Twitter has afforded me.
And it should come as no surprise that the catalyst for all of this was stumbling upon 6 letters and 1 character: s-a-c-h-a-t and #.

Thanks for reading. I hope this post encourages you to reflect today if you are sitting at home on this snowy/icy day away from the office.



Living in the Backchannel: In Real Life

January 27, 2011 Leave a comment

Living in the backchannel has led us down a path of what it is like to connect with people before you leave for a conference, how the knowledge sharing in the backchannel could become overwhelming and fulfilling, and how contributing to the backchannel led to a more focused approach to note taking during sessions. Now, in the finale of the series, I will share with you what happens when the backchannel becomes a reality channel.

It started with the keynote speech during lunch which featured not only a panel including Dr. Susan Komives but a table including Chris Conzen (@clconzen), Becca Obergefell (@OberBecca), Fred Kuo (@FredjKuo), and Robyn Kaplan (@Rkaplan13). Immediately the smart devices came out and the others at our table were curious about what we were doing. They listened to our explanation of Twitter, how we used it, and how it was a resource. By the end of the keynote, they had signed up and started tweeting but the best was yet to come…

With the keynote coming to a close, the moderator offered up a Q &A session for the audience. This meant the opportunity to ask Dr. Komives a question and get the answer straight from her, IN REAL LIFE! I was overwhelmed, I had no questions. So I did what any Twitter savvy person might do…I went to the backchannel and the backchannel didn’t disappoint.

I stood up and addressed Dr. Komives, “Hi, this question is for Dr. Komives coming to you via Twitter actually from Cindy Kane at Bridgewater State….”  Snickering, she answered the question, commenting that she knew Cindy and that she didn’t know how to use Twitter but perhaps she would learn. I immediately offered to teach her if she’d like which was greeted with some subtle laughter from the audience. Nonetheless, it had happened, Twitter was brought to the forefront and people were now aware of the power behind it – the backchannel was in real life. (Social media side note: Dr. Komives mentioned that she knew Cindy because they are Facebook friends.) Still, the best was yet to come…

Throughout day 2 of the conference a tweetup was being planned and organized throughout sessions and the lunch, this would be the backchannel in real life to the nth degree. After sessions, a select group of professionals milled about the second floor lobby trying to match faces to Twitter profile pictures. At first it was like a massive blind date; you had known this person via Twitter, conversed with them via Twitter, now it was time to get together and talk. After a few familiar faces popped up and a few tweets searching for people as they stood on opposite sides of the lobby were sent – the tweetup was underway. For almost 45 minutes, opinions, knowledge, wisdom, ideas, thoughts, stories, tweets, and a few “who should I follow?” answers traveled within the amoeba shaped ring of professionals. This was the power of Twitter. It had brought conference attendees whose only contact with each other (for the most part) had been electronic communication (some of whom only knew of each other for a matter of hours!) together. This was one of the most unique experiences LEI 2010 offered yet it wasn’t on the schedule, it was purely attendee driven, and it was organized via Twitter. It had empowered new professionals, re-energized seasoned professionals, and inspired all to utilize the backchannel in the future.

As I am out of words for this post, I will leave you with an image courtesy of Mike Severy (@MikeSevery), showing upwards of over a dozen professionals networking and discussing leadership topics in more than 140 characters and in real life at the tweetup. The backchannel had become a reality channel.


Joe Ginese (@JoeGinese) is the Director of Student Activities and Orientation at Nichols College in Dudley, MA.

Living in the Backchannel: Out of Focus

January 18, 2011 1 comment

In case you missed the first two parts of this short series, you can check them out here: Living in the Backchannel: Pre-conference and Day 1, Living in the Backchannel: Day 2 of LEI 2010.

You’ve read about the pre-conference, the connections, the excitement and the engagement of #LEI10. Up until halfway through Day 2 of the conference I was connected non-stop, tweeting, reading, referencing, bookmarking, then…this happened:

That dreaded, inconvenient, hopeless icon flashed on my phone as I was about to go into an afternoon session. What did this mean, what was I to do? There was no salvation, there was no solution. I would have to go through a session without having Twitter there with me as a colleague. I would be disconnected for 75 minutes until @OberBecca rescued me in the following session with a spare charger.

This series has focused largely on using Twitter throughout the conference so why am I taking the time to talk about a time where Twitter was nowhere to be found? Because the moment I put my phone, darkened and dead, back in my pocket this is what I felt like:

Taken at the LEI Welcome Keynote

I felt as discombobulated as the new chick coming out of the egg. I paid attention to the speakers, feverishly taking notes to share later, but something was missing. When Twitter was in my hands it was not distracting but without Twitter, I felt like an artist who had all of their supplies but no canvas. All these ideas, thoughts, resources, questions, answers all in front of me…on a piece of paper written in pen. If I am the artist, I just drew a masterpiece in the sand only to have the tide sweep it away.  The notes on the paper wouldn’t be real-time if I transposed them later. I couldn’t get responses on the spot or questions to ask right then and there from other colleagues.

I look back at my notes from that session and you would think that I was writing in my opposite hand. Twitter not only served as my public notebook but when I did use a pen and paper in the sessions I also had Twitter; my notes were neat, legible, organized. Without Twitter my notebook had turned into a dry-erase board at a brainstorming session. Scribbles, shapes, lines, words all over. See for yourself: (Without Twitter on the left and with Twitter on the right)

It turns out that my phone being low on battery would in turn mean I would be low on focus. Twitter had empowered me to catch key phrases and questions from the session to intrigue and share with my followers, something a pen and paper had yet to accomplish. It was as if I had to relearn how to take notes. With Twitter, I was listening and contributing. Learning and sharing. It was a two-way street. Without Twitter, I was a sponge soaking up the information without any release or output.

After this experience, I learned two things: 1) always travel with a spare charger on your person, 2) after writing tweeting with my thumbs for over 24 hours just holding a pen to a piece of paper was a foreign feeling.

My fourth and final post will explain what Twitter “in real life” transformed into and how 140-characters and engaged followers led me to an encounter I’ll never forget.

Living in the Backchannel: Day 2 of LEI 2010

January 3, 2011 Leave a comment

In case you missed part one of this short series, you can check it out here: Living in the Backchannel: Pre-conference and Day 1.

Day 1: 152 total #LEI10 tweets.
Day 2: 422 total #LEI10 tweets.

With a difference of 270 tweets between the two days, an argument could be made two ways; 1) more people started tweeting (true) or 2) those who were already tweeting, tweeted even more (also true). It was a combination of both of these scenarios that led to the explosion of the Twitter activity on the second day of the Leadership Educators Institute (LEI) 2010. I left the first post of this of this series with a few cliffhangers of the explosion of the backchannel, what happened when my phone ran out of battery, and an epic tweet-up. Allow me first to paint the picture of what happens when a backchannel explodes with a metaphor of sorts.

Imagine you have an idea, that idea is akin to a 40-watt bulb. It lights up your desk, and perhaps your office. Others locally recognize the work you are doing and often will sit by your desk to grab some of the light from your 40-watt idea. There are literally thousands of these 40-watt ideas in higher education let alone floating around a leadership conference.  Now you might get a glimpse of what it was like to be a contributing participant of LEI – a place where my 40-watt idea joined other 15-, 25-, 50-, and 100- watt ideas and together they lit up the University of South Florida Student Union. Here these ideas led to sharing,  contributing, and brightening the light from one another to enhance, challenge, and redistribute the glow to others.

This is fantastic! However, in this scenario, only those in the room can see the light and benefit from it. This is hardly a light that you can bottle up and bring home with you. (I’m pretty sure you wouldn’t get by customs if you tried.)

But what has 2010 brought to LEI? Twitter! Twitter blew the roof off of the USF Student Union and concentrated the light of from the ideas into a beam in the sky like the Bat-signal! Only instead of Batman’s trademark symbol it was “#LEI10” that served as a beacon to follow towards resources and dialogue about leadership practices.

Now practitioners from all over could look to the sky, err Twitter, and see these illuminating ideas. No longer was the light only cast on those in the room, it was cast to the world! Or well, those paying attention to their Twitter feeds but I digress…back to the point.

The backchannel had exploded and while over 400 tweets occurred on the second day of the conference, so many more were watching. I know this because during a session where we were asked to stand up and introduce ourselves, I was greeted by unmet colleagues who responded with, “So it’s you who has been tweeting all this time.” A combination of embarrassment and achievement rose within me as my cheeks flushed. The point wasn’t that they knew who I was or recognized my name which doubles as my Twitter handle, the point was and still is as @CindyKane has so eloquently put it, they were lurking and they were learning. Perhaps at their next conference they will take the jump and contribute to the conversation.

In my next post I will illustrate how my connection to Twitter was suspended for one session due to a dead phone battery shifted the way I now think about my conference experience. Stay tuned!

Living in the Backchannel: Pre-conference and Day 1

December 15, 2010 Leave a comment

Before reading you may want to make yourself familiar with what a backchannel is by reading the #SAChat transcript from the 12/9 chat on the topic.

#LEI10. That simple six character term has completely transformed my perspective of what it means to be engaged at a conference.  It is the Twitter hashtag for the 2010 Leadership Educators Institute. The conversation started in late October by @NASPATweets and Chris Conzen (@clconzen) with reminders for registration. The Twitter stream then went silent until the end of November when the conference was just a week away. Then December arrived and #LEI10 came alive.

Think about how you’ve connected with fellow conference-goers before a service like Twitter. Perhaps you posted it on your Facebook profile status or sent an e-mail to a listserv asking who else was going. In both of those cases, you were throwing up a signal flare in a forest and hoping someone not only saw it but responded to it. With Twitter, that hashtag becomes a lighthouse, or the North Star of the conference, not just a flash in the pan call for help. The hashtag serves as a beacon to guide participants to a place where lively discussions are happening in real time and, as a result, connections are breaking through the barriers of the virtual world and being made in real life. In the days leading up to the conference, Twitter allowed me to connect and be aware of what “tweeps” were going and who I’d get a chance to meet in real life. This may seem frivolous but you can’t tell me that when you go to a party and do not know anyone else that is going your anxiety level isn’t heightened just a bit. With Twitter, a conference where you are surrounded by strangers from all over the country became a conference where you and a group of your tweeps can meet up. This made the conference not only a professional development opportunity to learn new skills but also a chance to deepen friendships and strengthen your network. It is organized, sponsored, and supported by the association running the conference (in most cases) which adds legitimacy and purpose to the usage of it.

On the first day of the conference, the backchannel provided fellow tweeps a chance to locate each other right from the start of the keynote speech with tweets like this one from @LeslieMPage:

During the opening speech 55 tweets were sent responding to questions posed by the speakers, posting resources the speaker had shared, and sharing quotes that struck a chord. A perfect example from @OberBecca:

Now, I have followed a backchannel before for other conferences so I had an idea of what types of tweets would be most helpful and what would hopefully engage those, who are not in attendance, to contribute. What I did not expect was the amount of effort and time it takes! Contributing to a backchannel can turn into a part-time job while attending a conference. You can find yourself so involved in your tweets and other participants’ tweets that you forget that you are in the room with the person providing the information. My analogy for this is going to a concert and focusing on the screens on the side of the stage that give you a close up of the performer, rather than looking at the actual performer. How is that any different than watching the performer on TV? If you are in their presence, pay attention to them! With Twitter, your mobile device can turn into that screen at the concert right in your lap and in place of being a participant of a conference, you are now a bystander. So, as great a resource as this could be, remember to be mindful of the presenters and be careful not to be rude.  Educate conference-goers of what you’re learning by tweeting resources, quotes from the presenter, or questions posed by the audience. Do not tweet that the lunch spread looks delicious or that the room is chilly.

The first day of the conference backchannel rendered 152 total tweets of which I contributed 31. The backchannel had sucked me in. It was exciting, it was fun, it was leading to more connections, more resources, and had me more engaged in a conference that I had ever been before. I’ll get into my experience of the second day of the conference in my next post which will highlight the explosion of the backchannel (over 400 conference tweets!), what happened when my phone died resulting in being cut off from the backchannel, and an epic tweet-up.