September 11, 2012
When we traditionally think of the skill set Communications Among Cultures under Intercultural Proficiency, we think of various ethnic groups on campus. However, during a recent discussion with my supervisor, we began discussing other “cultures.” The Culture of Technology, as I will refer to it.
Have you found that many of you student programmers or employees will not respond to email but will respond to your text message? How about your full-time staff? When they are going to be running behind, do they call your office, text, or send an email from their smartphone?
When we opened our new Student Union in 2009, we added the task of social media to my position. My supervisor and myself did not expect this to turn into a part of my job that can take up to 50% or more of my time. This is just for student union operations and does not include our programming side of the house. How does this compare to your social media presence in your building?
This is the new reality of the Culture of Technology, learning how to interact with your staff and students in a constantly changing digital world. In our building, we make sure students get announcements through Facebook, Twitter, email, and text in regards to their work schedules and events on campus. I recently polled a group of students we were interviewing for various positions within the union on what they considered today’s “word of mouth,” and most first- and second-year students told me it was Twitter and other social media methods.
Our results from our annual survey showed an increase of 6% in the use of social media as a way to find out about activities, programs, and services in the building. We also included the institutional specific question of “What is your most frequent form of social media communication?” We found that more than 68% of our students who answered the question were using at least Facebook and Twitter regularly.
With the increase in smartphones and other mobile devices, our students are submerged in a a Culture of Technology in the classroom, at work, and in a social setting. Think back to your college years. How has technology impacted your daily life? Has it become a part of your culture? In your next staff meeting, look around to see who is using a pen and paper and which staff members are there with iPads, smartphones, laptops, and other electronic devices?
Is it time to look at the way we communicate in this Culture of Technology? I recommend looking at the now not so untraditional ways of communication and how they apply in the workplace. Is there something you or your staff need to change in the way they communicate? How do you have to adapt to the various groups of staff and students you work with on a daily basis?
As we look at the skill sets associated with Communications Among Cultures, should we begin to include a technology culture component?
- Basic understanding and awareness of cultural differences as they relate to the perceptions of nonverbal behavior cues in human interaction within one’s own culture as well as those of others
Skills and abilities required:
- Provide a variety of social and educational opportunities for student employees, paraprofessional, and professional staff members surrounding social justice issues
- Accurately represent diverse cultural groups in campus media, including virtual and print media
- Make available culturally diverse selections of resources (e.g., printed materials, food)
- Develop effective partnerships with academic and other campus administrative units in an effort to maintain a collaborative effort around issues of cultural diversity
Please take the time to join us for a more in-depth examination of this skill set on the next College Unions and Activities Discussion (CUAD) podcast Sept. 13 at 2 p.m. Eastern and then further discussions on Twitter by following #ACUICC.
is the Assistant Director, Administration and Support at University of North Carolina–Charlotte.
Sarah Stroud has been at the University of North Carolina–Charlotte since 2007. In her current position as assistant director, administration and support services, she oversees student employee hiring, onboarding, and training; union assessment; and social media. Prior to her current role, she oversaw the transition process during construction of the student union, which opened in 2009. Most recently, Sarah has served as the2011 conference co-chair for Region 5. In her “free” time, she can be found out at the ball fields watching her three new step-daughters play. She was married in August 2011.