#ACPA15 & #NASPA15 Presentation: #SAwrites: Blogging in Student Affairs and Higher Education

I am pleased to be presenting on blogging in higher education and student affairs with some amazing colleagues at the ACPA Convention this week and at the NASPA convention later in the month.  To go along with our session, we’ve created a resource page.  I’ve included it here, but you can point your browsers to SAwrites.com at any time to go to the most up-to-date permanent landing page.  Perhaps this can become a resource page for bloggers in the future?

This website was developed as a companion to two educational sessions originally presented at the 2015 ACPA and NASPA national conventions.  It is intended to serve as a resource to those in the student affairs and higher education community who are bloggers or want to start their blogging journey.  If you have resources you think will help, let us know and we’ll add them.  You can always point your browser to SAwrites.com to come back here.



The #SAwrites concept began at a 2014 NASPA conference session.  At the 2015 ACPA and NASPA National Conventions, we’re pleased to present the following programs on blogging in higher education and student affairs:

ACPA Title: #SAwrites: Professional Development Through Blogging in Student Affairs
Panelists: Kristen Abell (Blog, Twitter), Josie Ahlquist (BlogTwitter), Paul Gordon Brown (BlogTwitter), Heather Shea Gasser (Blog, Twitter), Jason L Meriwether (Blog, Twitter); Twitter Moderator: Brian Proffer (Blog, Twitter)
Saturday, March 7 (8:00 AM – 9:00 AM) Marriott Tampa Waterside – Florida Salon V

NASPA Title: Blogging Bravely: Thoughts, Tips and Advice from the Blogosphere
Panelists: Josie Ahlquist (BlogTwitter), Paul Gordon Brown (Blog, Twitter), Marci Walton (BlogTwitter), Renee Piquette Dowdy (BlogTwitter); Twitter Moderator: Kimberly White (Blog, Twitter)
Monday, March 23 (8:30 AM – 9:20 AM) Convention Center 213

Join us on the Twitter backchannel at #SAwrites!

Social and digital technologies allow everyone to put their ideas out into the world.  Blogging and establishing an online presence are an excellent way to engage in professional conversations and idea generation throughout the year.  In this session, a panel of bloggers at various stages of experience will share their thoughts about the what, how and why of blogging and how you can start or enhance your own writing.

Participants will be able to:

  • Recall current research and practices of blogging within the higher education field.
  • Recognize the tangible benefits and challenges to blogging.
  • Analyze and articulate their own goals for blogging and leave with a clear sense of voice.
  • Apply strategies for establishing or enhancing their blogs.


Pencil, Pens, Marker, HighlighterA blog is a website that is managed by an individual, group or organization, with posts that include options such as text, pictures, videos, comments and much more.  After being published, these posts can be commented on, shared and updated with more content.  They are very interactive, as authors engage with readers who leave comments, subscribe and send messages.  Examples of blogging sites include Blogger, Tumblr and WordPress.

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).  To this end, this author encourages creating blogging rules, or a blogger code of ethics to guide content.

The creation of a code of ethics for blogging should be fueled by best practices specifically for educators.  Little research exists on blogging in most disciplines, however the last few years faculty utilization of social media platforms have received scholarly attention.  This research can also be considered for non-faculty, such as student affairs administrators.  For example, Veletsianos (2013) study asked what activities and practices arise when researchers and faculty use social media, finding that usage includes both in class and professional (non-class) use.  In addition to Twitter, blogging was a major component of this activity, which included professional content such as highlighting research or presentations, as well as personal reflection on issues important to them.  This personal sharing was found to be valuable in the academic community (2013).

Unfortunately, to date no studies were found on student affairs leaders nor higher education administrators who blog.  Due to this lack in the literature, this session aims to apply related blogging and social media research for student affairs leaders pursuing a transformative blogging presence online.


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.


10 Guiding Questions a Successful Student Affairs Blogger Can Answer:

  1. What is your niche?
    1.  Pick an area of focus that you are passionate about.
    2.  Think about what others are interested in reading.
  2. What is your brand?  Your identity?
    1.  Be strategic in choosing focal areas that enhance your career.
    2.  Think about the types of posts for which you want to be known.
  3. What platform and technological tools should you use?
    1.  Purchase a domain name that reflects you and/or your blog content.
    2.  Pick a domain name registrar.
    3.  Pick a blogging platform.
  4. What is your blog design and what does it convey?
    1.  Pick a blog theme/design.
    2.  Think about what you want it to convey.  Whimsical?  Modern?  Serious?
    3.  Think ahead to the functionalities you want in a design.
    4. Think about accessibility and universal design.
  5. shutterstock_69881668-2How can you be authentic in the way you represent yourself?
    1.  Acknowledge all comments and tweets.
    2.  Don’t humblebrag.
  1. How will you promote your blog?
    1.  Tweet new posts with appropriate hashtags.
    2.  Enable sharing on your blog posts.
  2. How can you unify all of our digital presences? (And do you want to?)
    1.  Cross link and weave your presence together for greater lift.
    2.  Think about which audiences your different channels target.
  3. How can you interpret your traffic data and analytics?
    1.  Determine which post topics gain the most traction.
    2.  Determine the best times to post for your audience.
    3.  Explore links to your blog and popular search terms.
  4. How can you responsibly write, cite, and give credit?
    1.  Give credit and mentions liberally.
    2.  Understand Creative Commons licensing.
  5. How can you engage the community?
    1.  Engage in conversations that arise from your posts.
    2.  Deal with negative comments constructively and don’t take it personally.



Suggested platforms for publishing a blog:


SAC-PodcastThe Student Affairs Spectacular Podcast

Topic: Paul Gordon Brown on Blogging in Student Affairs (12/2/2014)


How To Become A More Confident Blogger:


Our “Favorite” Blogs:

We asked each of our panelists to name one (only one… it was hard!) of their favorite blogs.  Here are ours:

Higher Ed and SA Bloggers:

Group Blogs:

Other Blogs:

A listing of bloggers who write on topics related to higher education, student affairs, and related topics.


The Presenters:

Kristen Abell

1007_KristenHeadshots_0135-2Kristen Abell is a web developer at the University of Missouri-Kansas City and has been in student affairs for fifteen years, in a variety of roles. She’s worked primarily in housing and women’s centers at three different universities over that time. She has a bachelor’s degree in psychology, women’s studies and English and a master’s in social welfare from the University of Kansas.  Kristen currently serves on the ACPA Digital Technology Task Force, and served previously as the Information Technology Coordinator for the IV-West Region of NASPA and webmaster for the NASPA Technology Knowledge Community. Kristen has been blogging since 2006, and she is a cofounder of and blogger at the Student Affairs Women Talk Tech collaborative blog. She is also the cofounder of the #SAtech weekly chat on Twitter. She has presented both regionally and nationally on technology in student affairs. In addition to technology, Kristen blogs frequently about the issue of mental illness, especially depression. She edited and contributed to the Committed e-series and book on mental illness in student affairs with colleague Sue Caulfield.

Josie Ahlquist

dfPvb02jJosie Ahlquist is a doctoral candidate at California Lutheran University, studying Higher Education Leadership.  She is very attuned to the landscape of higher education as well as developing leadership capacity of college students, as well as administrators.   She brings over a decade of experience in the field of Higher Education in areas such as student activities, campus recreation, student unions, marketing, residence life, judicial affairs, student leadership and new student orientation.  She is an alumnus of Northern Arizona University with a Masters degree in Counseling and undergraduate degrees from South Dakota State University where she double-majored in Sociology and Human Development and Family Studies.  She has served on the 2014 NASPA (National Association of Student Personnel Administrators) Technology Summit and current is the NASPA Technology Knowledge Community Emerging Practices Coordinator.  Recently Josie was appointed to the ACPA (American College Personnel Association) President’s Task Force on Digital Technology, chairing the Research and Scholarship team.  Recently named to the “Top 50 Must Read Higher Education Technology Blogs” by Ed Tech in 2014, she blogs weekly at http://www.josieahlquist.com.  As a writer, she is a co-author in the Handbook of Student Affairs Administration textbook, writing the chapter on Computer-Mediated Communication and Social Media.  She is also published in The Journal of Leadership Studies, in a thought piece called Trending Now: Digital Leadership Education using Social Media and the Social Change Model.

Paul Gordon Brown

10848981_10102129843338748_468820750530185943_oPaul Gordon Brown is a scholar, consultant and speaker working on the fringes of where student learning and development intersect with technology, social media and design. Paul has over 10 years of professional experience in higher education and student affairs in a diverse array of functional areas including residential education, honors programs, academic advising, and student activities.  Currently serving as an instructor in the Higher Education programs at Boston College and Merrimack College, Paul has extensive experience in the classroom and working in blended student and academic affairs environments.  An experienced presenter, Paul has had accepted and given over 40 refereed presentations at national and regional conferences and is a recognized Keynote Author from LinkedIn’s SlideShare.  Paul is also a contributing author Erik Qualman’s book, “What Happens On Campus Stays On YouTube,” serves on the governing board of ACPA-College Student Educators International and is a member of  ACPA’s Presidential Task Force on Digital Technology.  He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Philosophy from the State University of New York College at Geneseo, and a Master of Science degree in College Student Personnel from Western Illinois University.  Paul has also studied at Miami University in Oxford, OH and at New College, Oxford University, in the United Kingdom.  Paul is currently a full time PhD student at Boston College in the Higher Education program.  Find out more at www.paulgordonbrown.com and follow along at @paulgordonbrown.

Renee Piquette Dowdy

_OGk_U5gRenee Piquette Dowdy works for Synergos, AMC where she serves as the Assistant Director of Education & Curriculum Design. Her work is focused on the fraternal industry working with such clients as the Association of Fraternity & Sorority Adivsors (AFA), Association of Fraternal Leadership & Values (AFLV), Phi Sigma Kappa Fraternity, the University of Denver, Colorado State University, and the Fraternal Values Society. Prior to Synergos, Renee worked in residence life and housing at the University of Chicago and Marquette University. While Renee currently blogs on student affairs career development, office culture, and current higher education trends from http://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. She has guest blogged for WISA, the Student Affairs Feature, and Pi Kappa Phi Fraternity. Her research interests specific to social media began in her graduate work at Bowling Green State University where she assisted a Pop Culture Department professor on her work focused on grieving in online communities and has continued as she explores the intersection of online identity with personal branding, storytelling, and community.

Heather Shea Gasser

newHSGheadshot2Heather Shea Gasser’s career in student affairs spans 16+ years and five different campuses, and involves experience in many different functional areas including residence life, multicultural affairs, women’s centers, student activities, leadership development, and commuter/nontraditional student services. Heather is currently serving as the assistant director of RISE (Residential Initiative on the Study of the Environment), a living-learning community at Michigan State University while also a full-time doctoral student in MSU’s HALE (Higher, Adult, and Lifelong Education) Program. Prior to MSU, she worked for over five years as the Director of the Women’s Center at the University of Idaho. At the Women’s Center she began working with blogging as a form of social action and helped launch the WC’s blog in 2011. Heather currently blogs at http://heathersheagasser.com and co-edits and contributes to https://studentaffairsfeminists.wordpress.com.  She is also the co-host of the online live-streamed show, Student Affairs Live, which broadcasts bi-monthly on the HigherEdLive.com network. She graduated from Colorado State University with degrees in graphic design and marketing and also received her master’s degree from CSU in the SAHE (Student Affairs in Higher Education) program in 2000. Heather is extensively involved with ACPA-College Student Educators International, currently serving as the Director of Membership Development. She was the Program Chair for the 2014 ACPA Convention in Indianapolis, Assembly Coordinator of Commissions, Multiracial Network Chair, and chair of the Commission for Commuter Students and Adult Learners and was recognized with the ACPA Diamond Honoree, Standing Committee Advocate, and Annuit Coeptis Awards. Connect with Heather on Twitter at @heathergasser.

Jason L. Meriwether

uhdLWDZAJason L. Meriwether is the Vice Chancellor for Enrollment Management & Student Affairs at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany, Indiana. Currently, Jason serves the American College Personnel Association as a member of the Presidential Task Force on Digital Technology in Student Affairs and the Directorate for the Commission for Student Conduct and Legal Issues.  In 2014, Jason was elected to the ACPA Governing Board as Director of External Relations. Jason has presented at numerous national and regional conferences on topics such as digital media trends, legal issues in social media, retention & persistence, LGBT connectedness, assessment, strategic planning, career trajectory, and hazing prevention.  A seasoned consultant on enrollment management and anti-hazing policy, Jason is also a Higher Education & Social Media contributor for Socialnomics.net and has been a guest blogger for the NASPA Technology Knowledge Community Blog and for the Student Affairs Collective.  Jason is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Administration at Indiana State University, which he is expected to complete in 2015.  You can learn more about Jason by visiting his website at www.jasonlmeriwether.com, following him on Twitter at @JLMeriwether06, or connecting on LinkedIN at JasonLMeriwether.

Marci Walton

7f7844b999604bb34ffe0b3069ae87bcMarci Walton is the Assistant Director for Academic Support and Learning Communities for the Loyola University Chicago Department of Residence Life. Prior to Loyola, she staked her claim at Santa Clara University and Loyola Marymount University.  She is an alumnus of Bowling Green State University with a Masters degree in College Student Personnel and has an undergraduate degree from Wittenberg University where she majored in Early Childhood Education and Africana Studies. Marci is active member of the #SAchat community and has began blogging about authenticity, social justice, service, and student affairs. She is particularly interested in growing the definition of “storytelling” in our field through innovative technology and growing your personal network through engaging in online storytelling. In her free time she also manages the social media feeds for the Jesuit Association of Student Personnel Administrator and blogs about her transition from entry-level to mid-level professional. Connect with Marci at www.marcikwalton.com or interact on Twitter at @MarciKWalton.

Brian Proffer, ACPA Twitter Moderator

BDPBrian D. Proffer currently serves as the Assistant Manager for the University Activities Board at Michigan State University. Prior to joining the MSU family, Brian has been fortunate to be able to call Marygrove College, Concordia University-Ann Arbor and University of Michigan-Flint home. With a B.A. in Communication-Mass Media from the University of Michigan-Flint and a M.A. in Educational Leadership, Higher Education-Student Affairs from Eastern Michigan University  Brian has found his niche in student activities, leadership programs and social media. While active with the Michigan College Personnel Association and HighEdWeb Association Brian also serves as a volunteer Moderator for periodic Evening #SAChats. Brian first began blogging as a regular guest blogger for studentaffiars.com about his graduate school experience. After his stint with studentaffairs.com he authored several guest blogs for sacollective.com and his alma mater the University of Michigan-Flint. Now, Brian blogs on his own blog site, bdproffer.wordpress.com on current issues in higher education, student affairs, web 2.0, LGBT issues and general life inspirations and observations. Amongst his professional life and time with his partner, Brian volunteers his time as the State of Michigan District President of Kappa Sigma International Fraternity. You can connect with Brian on Twitter at @bdproffer.

Kimberly White, NASPA Twitter Moderator

KWKimberly White is the Internship Coordinator for the rise3 Initiative at Birmingham-Southern College, an experiential learning and critical reflection opportunity for students in the domains of faculty-student research, internships, and service-learning. She also serves as the BSC Campus Advisor to the Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women, Alabama Alpha chapter. She is a recent graduate of the HESA program at Boston College and resides in Birmingham, Alabama. You can find Kimberly on Twitter at @whiteoi and follow her blog.iStock_000005290703Small

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