A trusted colleague who was interested in the new ACUHO-I Online Community asked me some questions about how the online community differs from other forms of communication, such as list servs, Facebook groups related to residential life and housing, Twitter, etc. My response to her can be found below. I thought I would share it with all of you as well.
The 2015 ACUHO-I Strategic Plan is the guiding document that serves as our “road map” as an association. The plan outlines four strategic goals, which are defined as: 1) Education, 2) Knowledge Resources, 3) Community, and 4) Influential Leadership and Advocacy. The plan describes the second strategic goal (our responsibility to our community) as follows:
Community: The campus housing profession will benefit from expanded opportunities of engagement and connection that transcend practice, affinity, geography, career levels, and roles.
- To enhance the intentional communication message of who ACUHO-I is for members
- To increase visibility of ACUHO-I and campus housing professionals
- To expand ACUHO-I’s reach, influence, and accessibility.
- To improve the connection between ACUHO-I and other regional and international housing associations.
- To expand opportunities for individual engagement around practice, affinity, geography, and career level or role.
With this additional context as a backdrop, it comes as no surprise that the new ACUHO-I Online Community is a tool through which to further develop, enhance and engage with our own “real life” community. The advantages that the new online community provides over social media platforms are many:
- In addition to the large open forum conversation, the ACUHO-I Online Community allows for members to join tailored conversations within affinity groups that interest them. Whereas social media platforms like Facebook groups tend to only have a consortium of threads that are related to various different topics, the ACUHO-I Online Community allows for the best of both worlds – granular conversations around different knowledge domains and a large open discussion that is designed everyone. Members can join and leave affinity groups based on their changing needs and interests. Members can also set notifications (e-mail digests) to be sent on a daily or weekly basis depending on their personal preference.
- As opposed to micro-blogging sites like Twitter, community posts aren’t limited to a short number of characters. In turn, this allows for members to have in depth conversations around subjects that interest them.
- Members also have the option of responding to conversations directly via their email in addition to having the option of responding via the platform itself.
- As opposed to list-serv emails, the community is also fully searchable by subject. This is an advantage for those in our profession, where transitioning to new institutions is a common practice. Transitioning to new institutions no longer implies losing out valuable professional resources because one no longer has access to previous email accounts where listserv conversations are often stored.
- The platform for allows members to upload and download documents directly to and from the platform. Room change documents, marketing materials, spreadsheets, license agreements and other valuable documents are only a click away and can now be found in a centralized place for the entire global membership to take advantage of.
- Finally, the community allows members to build profiles that allow members to associate a name to a face. I have already called, emailed and have video chatted with a number of new members on the community. I even plan on meeting some of them in real life at upcoming conferences. Being able to associate a name to face is a great advantage over a list-serv, where some conversations can sometimes feel impersonal.
In the end, the new ACUHO-I Online Community is a tool that will help us fortify the professional community that we know and care about. Will it replace the value of having face-to face conversations with other members? No, nothing will. However, as outlined in the ACUHO-I’s strategic objectives, it will help us continue to build community on a global scale regardless of one’s practice, affinity, geography, and career level or role. Personally, that seems like a goal worth working toward.
Interested in continuing this conversation? Don’t know where to start when it comes to joining the community? I am here to help. Feel free to email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.