Memory and Technology

For the Master of Education in Student Affairs program at Iowa State University, students are evaluated based off their growth in the ACPA/NASPA (2015) competencies. The purpose of ACPA/NASPA (2015) is to provide ten competencies to guide student affairs professionals as we navigate our profession. The competencies are divided into three sections of evaluation; foundational level, intermediate level and advanced level. The goal of the two-year program is to see progression of our understanding of theory to practical appliance of the competencies from our first academic semester to the last academic semester. The ten ACPA/NASPA (2015) competencies are as follows: Advising and Supporting, Assessment Evaluation and Research, Law, Policy and Governance, Leadership, Organizational and Human Resources, Personal and Ethical Foundations, Social Justice and Inclusion, Student Learning and Development, Technology, and Values, Philosophy and History. 

Entering into my last semester of the Student Affairs program I began to analyze my growth within the ACPA/NASPA (2015) competencies to begin preparing for my final evaluation. While thinking, I came to the realization that I have not grown within the Technology competency. Because of this realization, I began to actively seek out opportunities on campus that I can gain theory and practical technological understanding. With the help of reliable practitioners on Iowa States campus, Andra Castle, Assistant Director of the Margaret Sloss Center for Women and Gender Equity, and Rosie Rowe, AV and Film Preservation Specialist, I was put in contact with Tammy Troup, Digital Preservation Librarian. From there, Tammy scheduled a meeting with me to discuss my learning objectives and then she graciously created a practicum learning experience for me. In this blog post, I endeavor to use the ACPA/NASPA (2015) Technology competency levels to demonstrate my growth within the Digital Preservation practicum.  

“Our memory is longer than our lifespan.”

Kristie Dotson

I believe technology in Student Affairs is overlooked and not taken as seriously as the other nine competencies are. ACPA/NASPA (2015), Technology competency focuses on areas of  “digital tools, resources, and technologies for the advancement of student learning, development, and success as well as the improved performance of student affairs professionals”. However, I make the claim that technology is not taken as seriously because when the 2020 Pandemic occurred student affairs professionals were scrambling to learn digital platforms and put into practice the foundational outcomes of the Technology competency.  

A sub-section of the Technology competency is Technical Tools and Software, which is the knowledge of current tools and technologies and the ability to troubleshoot the technologies as situations occur. During the practicum, I was able to grapple with “why” higher education practitioners were not prepared to switch their teaching and program curriculum to an online platform and use current technology to create learning opportunities for students. To inform my understanding, I was tasked with reading a set of articles about the complexities and inequalities that inform technology and the library systems. I was afforded the opportunity to read articles like “Never Neutral: Libraries, technology, and inclusion” by Chris Bourg and “Locating the Library in Institutional Oppression” by nina de jesus. Both articles make arguments that Libraries are not neutral but that they are grounded and built by systems of oppression, inequalities, and power imbalances thus excluding minoritized populations from achieving societal standards of scholarship and information access. nina de jesus and Chris Bourg further grapple with the conclusion that the library systems and technology is exclusive because of the lack of diversity of staff within the field. This lack of diversity affects the perspectives and lens molding, which affects the creation and categorization of information and influencing technology that is and is not available. 

“Time and the march of progress is used to justify a stunning degree of violence towards our most vulnerable populations, who, being perceived as space-takers rather than world-makers, are moved out of the places where they live, in service of bringing them into the 21st century.”

Brittney Cooper

Another sub-section of the Technology competency is Data Use and Compliance. The Data Use and Compliance section is about the understanding of compliance laws and policies related to technology and navigating legal and ethical standard while also utilizing inclusive practices when creating online tools (ACPA/NASPA, 2015). For the practicum, I was tasked with creating a tool for undergraduate students to summarize the knowledge I gained within the practicum. The tool I created was a library guide called Own Your ISU Experience. The purpose of the guide is to equip students with resources to own their curations from their academic journey. The guide focuses on the following concepts; tokenism, white gaze, the importance of preserving personal history, digital curation, accessibility and collecting institutions. The Own Your ISU Experience was created with the mindset of centering marginalized students because I believe these students are often used as tokens on campus which can result in under-paid (often times free labor), and students who are traumatized by their campus experience.  

“Digital stewardship doesn’t belong to the institution; it belongs to the curators — students.”

Tammy Troup

While creating the library guide, I had to take into account compliance laws and policies and inclusive practices. For example, while selecting pictures to use I made sure to find pictures that adhered to the creative commons licenses. I used inclusive practices by creating a video about white gaze with text instead of audible speaking. I will add that while making the library guide it was difficult to think about the population of students who have disabilities. This is a flaw and critique of my work because since I do not hold that identity it was not at the forefront of my work. However, within my practicum, Tammy guided me to the observation that some people create projects with the assumption “what population of students are you okay leaving out.” This stuck with me because I was not fine with leaving out another marginalized group who is frequently left out of the conversations surrounding technology. After this moment with Tammy, my focused centered around equipping students with the tools to make their work more inclusive to serve students who have disabilities.  

Image shows young Black woman on a park bench near a pond.
“Living in the moment is only sufficient in the moment”
Taylor Lee, ISU ’21 MEd Student Affairs

Moving forward I hope to actively seek out opportunities to continue my learning about technology. Specifically, I would like to create space to bring attention to the inequities within technology and how the white gaze of the curators informs the user’s experience. I am grateful for the opportunity that Tammy provided me with the Digital Preservation Program. Not only did I learn another avenue of discussion of social justice advocacy but I also learned about the usefulness of Library services.  

*The quotes included within the blog are key memories that informed my learning throughout my practicum journey.

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