This January, I am taking my first intentional dip into the MOOC pool. After having to quit a statistics course last fall over a major software issue (namely, I could not take the course on a Mac- yuck!), I’m excited to see what the massive open online course world is like, to see the actual process behind the hype.
I’m opting to take Colorado State’s forthcoming course, “Exploring the Student Affairs in Higher Education Profession“. But I’m not taking it alone. A few students who have approached me about entering the field will be taking it as well- my main motivation to participate is to follow along with what they’ll be seeing and learning. I’ve spoken many times about my tentativeness to recommend students to the field, hoping to ensure that their decision to join the field has some element of objectivity. My experience in, and perspective on, our work is a unique one. I want to make sure that any student who I play a part in bringing into this field, has all the information they need- not just what we explain and model, but the history, current trends, challenges, and more.
But taking the course isn’t enough. I want to talk about the content that’s presented. The description of the course reads as follows:
Do you enjoy working with college students and are looking for a career where you can make an impact within their lives? Or maybe you’re a student affairs professional needing a brush up on some of the latest practices in the field? Exploring the Student Affairs in Higher Education Profession free online course is designed for both audiences.
If you’ve ever considered what it might be like to work in areas such as admissions, campus recreation, enrollment services, Greek life, housing and dining, or other student affairs departments, take this risk-free opportunity to:
Learn about the field of Student Affairs
Discover guiding and foundational theories
Practice networking on your own campuses, with professional organizations and even current staff members
Obtain strategies for a successful search when it comes to finding a job or graduate program
Investigate future trends within the field of Student Affairs
Understand the role Student Affairs plays in student success
Learn about the internationalization of Student Affairs/Student Services
I want to talk about how the information the course presents plays out in real life, comparing what is taught to my experiences and those of other professionals on our campus and in our lives. I’m particularly interested in the last three bullets of the description. What sort of a future will this course predict for our work? How do these instructors feel that our work contributes to student affairs success? And what do they mean by the internalization of student affairs and student services?
A lot of confusion, frustration, and even outright cynicism exists about how we present this field to our prospective successors. I am fully aware of the manner in which I contribute to that dialogue at times, and wish that I could sometimes go back to the aspirational and boundlessly hopeful view that I held when I first came into this work. I sometimes wish that I had gotten to have frank discussions with a number of professionals doing this work each day- in initiating this dialogue with students pondering an entry to student affairs, it seems the responsible thing to do to make this course an informed conversation.
I plan to extend the offer to chat to any other professionals, paraprofessionals, and especially aspiring student affairs professionals taking the course; and ultimately blog about my thoughts on each module. I hope you’ll join me as I dive into this introduction to the profession, but this time with a set of eyes that is at once fresh (not having taken this course before, and certainly not in this format!), and seasoned (having had the opportunity to live many of these lessons for a few years now).
Is anyone else planning to take the course? Are you directing prospective pros to do the same?