4: Bridgewater State University’s Student Affairs Communications Technology w/ Dr. Ed Cabellon

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Dr. Ed Cabellon, Assistant to the VP of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management at Bridgewater State University discusses how to leverage technology to build capacity and more effectively engage with and retain current students.

Attracting today's new posttraditionallearners means adopting new enrolmant strategies: heeliks educations datadriven enterprise, wide approach to enrolment growth is uniquely helpingcolleges and universities thrive in this new education, landscape and Heloxhas just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook,with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's mostpressing andromant growth challenges download it today for free at Helocks,Educationcom, playbook, you're, listening to enrolment growth,university from helics education, the best professional development podcastfor higher education leaders looking to Growin Roman at their college oruniversity, whether you're looking for fresh and romant growth techniques andstrategies or tools and resources. You've come to the right place. Let'sget into the show, welcome back to anroman growth,university, I'Mari, Golson, AVP of marketing at helics education and we'rehere today with Dr Ed Gabellan Assistant to the VP of Student Affairsand En Roman management at Bridge Water State University. Had thanks so muchfor joining us today. You're very welcome thanks for having me absolutelywe're thrilled I've known Ed for a while now he's an incredibly graciousand generous thought leader in the Higherid community. He's also doingincredibly exciting things with student affairs at Bridgewater State, asrelates to student retention and therefore, overall in Roman growth, butbefore we dig it deep into that, and can you get the listeners a little bitbetter understanding of both Bridgewater State University and yourrule? There sure so. Bridgewater State University is the largest StateUniversity in Massachusetts outside of the UMSS University of MassachusettsSystem. So we have about eleven hosand students at Bridgewater State and aboutthirty five to forty percent of those folks live on campus and the rest, ourcommuters and graduate students. You know: We've experienced tremendousgrowth over the last eleven years that I've been here. So I celebrate elevenyears at Bridgewater back in January. I first started to hear, as the associatedirector for the for this campus center was promoted to the director positionand then over the last four years have served in this rule, as assistant tothe vice president for Student Affairs, in the Central Office of a divisionthat has taken on the enrollment side of the house as part of the evolutionof the division. Since I have been here so it was division of Student Affairsand en grew to the division of Student Affairs and enrolment management, andso now our colleagues from admissions financial age transfer services arepart of our division and new student Nd Family Programis, also part of ourenrollment focus as well. So it's a great place to work, love it here andI'm so grateful for bridgewater for all the opportunitis. That's provided meover the last eleven years, I've been in the field for twenty years. As ahirid administrator, I also teach in the school of business here at Pirsewater state. I teach management, a strategic management course and I teachprinciples of marketing and I also teach online at cobwell university andtheir higher redmasters program. I teach a curriculum and digitaltechnology course there, which I'm actually in the middle of right now,which, as been great so I il about bridgewater and me awesome. One of thethings that I'm really excited to talk with you today is is current studentnurturing an engagement strategies? I think a lot of universities have builtout these nurturing Caden cizen strategies to keep the perspectivestudents engaged getting them from inquiry to the first hive class. Then Ithink after graduation advancement in alumni relations have been very goodabout creating nurturing cadenesan strategies for alumni, keeping themengaged, happy and bestcase scenario participating or giving back. But canyou talk about some of the weaknesses that you see, kind of globally andHIGHR red in regards to current student nurturing strategies and in youropinion, is it simply because it's hard to know who specifically owns thatfunction, yeah as a great question Eric and something we have like mostinstitutions struggled with here at the university? So I think when you look atthe landscape of marketing...

...communications and digital engagementacross the institute, any institution, Wat Shouldn' say any most institutions.You know the Marcom folks at most institutions are focused on theexternal message or the external brand and working with constituents and stakeholders that are connected to the institution as well as our DMISSIONSfolks, who do a lot of that marketing and communications to for recruitmentfor those recruitmentcycles, and you know given the state of Hierid and theimportance of enrollment. That makes a lot of sense and to your point aroundan alumnian development. You know, depending on the staff structure, you know somealumni development folts only have staff who do event based marketing andcommunications for the alumni and not really someone who has a full time roleand communications and engagement for those populations. I mean, given thegenerational span of those alumni. I can see why, but, given that many ofmore of our alumni are becoming, you know digitally aware and digitallyengaged that may have to shift, but you're right. You know who is reallyowning the day to day engagement of our student are current students and we sawthe gap here, a bridgewater, and so when I was moved up into this role as adivision leader within our division of Student Affairs and Roleman. No one wasreally catering to those students day today, unless it was a decentralizedapproach from departments right, so you might have an activity's office thatdefinitely does engagement through events and and in community building,around student organizations and so on and so forth. You might have residentshalls who have Ras and rds and area coordinators who might be creatingonline communities to expand upon conversation that are happening in theresidence halls. You know, but beyond that, onin think about athletics, toyou know with coaches and things like that, but there's not one it's hard tofind guidance for best practice on. You know what they should be doing and evenmore importantly, how do you partner with marketing communication so thatyou're not stepping on toes or taking the brain ind in a direction that theymay not be comfortable with? And so over? The last four years we createdBSU LIFECOM and an integrated marketing team made up of students that focuseson engaging students day to day and its led to many great opportunities toengage current students, particularly our first generation students orstudents of color and our commuter students, who are the majority at ourcampus, because we, when I when I first started tinkering with this with socialmedia in particular, you know in the late twosands, when twitter andbasebook were really ascending in Higher Ed. You know we started a blog,we started doing things in our commuters were coming in and leaving,and we didn't really have a chance to really engage with them. So we foundthat social media was the one way to do that on a consistent basis. So wescaled that at the division level and really looked at opportunities to dothat, and our student marketing team has been really a driver in a lot ofthat, because these students are communication, majors marketing, majors,graphic design, majors, who are all looking to build their portfolio anyway.So we've created this great col curricular experience for them to helpengage our current students because Eric Hou and I both know that it's it'scheaper to retain students, t an is to recruit students and given that first asecond year attention rate depending on your institution. This is where folkscan really make some headway in that number if they really focus in on adigital strategy to engage current students, and so, as you think, aboutthe landscape of what could be done. You know we've bit, we've taken offbits and pieces along the wayward last four years to find and tinker whatreally works for us, because Wel have wat works. A bridgewater may Ni hatwork at another institution, but you know that engagement, piece of aconstant flow of information and response to our to our current studentsis critical. Love Tad super good aspirational thoughts. I think for alot of our listeners. Now, last February, you successfully defendedyour doctoral dissertation, Redefining Student Affairs through digitaltechnology a ten year historiography of...

...digital technology used by studentaffairs of ministrator. So, first of all huge congratulations to you. Thankyou very much. You cover a whole lot of interesting findings and ask a lot ofgreat questions. You focus on two benefits of increased technologies thatwere fascinating to me, and I was wondering if you could speak to both ofthem. One was how to use technology to better build capacity and then thesecond, how to use technology to specifically better engage in theretention and development of students, yeah so I'll start with their attention.An engagement of students, pieace first, you know, I think many of us,particularly those who have been living and growing throughthe explosion of the digital age, where technology tools and access continue togrow and evolve at pace at a pace that is head. Spinning right, just get tounderstand one type of tool of one type of approach in technology and thensomething else comes out, and so that level of change for many people ischallenging. So, as I think about, as I thought aboutthe research and and went into this, you know my my slice of the academicresearch that I wanted to fill in was let's pushpause for a second and sayall right: How have we used technology over the last ten years? How have webeen taught how to use technology, which was a huge question? I asked inmy dissertation and then what do I? What did I see for the future? You KnowHow do we project what's going to happen over the next ten years? ThatStudent Affairs folks in particular, who work with students daying an dayout in a variety of capacities to ensure that their their cocurricularexperience? There is a strong one and one that contributes to the academicmission of the institution. So, in terms of engagement, you know, I founda lot of examples from the folks I interviewed of cursory ways that theywere using technology right, so engagement through social mediaengagement through maybe a video chat. You know looking at changing the waythey took an information on an online form and there's there's a ton ofexamples from from my research, but the common thread was that it was cursorythat the idea that, once we found something we were comfortable with asour own sort of our own use of it. We just stuck with that and even thoughthere might be a new and better way to use, it folks found something and theyget stuck with it. And so you know my recommendations to colleagues acrossstudent affairs and really administrators throughout the academy.Anyway, you know throughout the higher education, were to really acknowledgeyour biases around technology and say look just because you like something orjust because it fits fit for you. If the student at the end of the day isour focus right. If we're student centered, as many of my colleagues loveto say and if student and if students are the reason we're here, then we haveto embrace technologies capacity to provide us other different ways ofdoing things. I think we pause and we resist because it may require us tochange the way we do things and the way we're comfortable doing things, but atthe end of the day, if it really is about students, then we have to reallyrethink that and I mean er think of it. This way right, you think abour hoursof operation. This is the most basic thing. I always I always kind of have Ilove having arguments with my colleagues about this. We still operateeight to five nine, to five modality right. Why, given all of the eveningand night, students that come to our campus, given all the different waysthat our students work and need questions answered, you know somestudents work until eleven o'clock, an start their homework and then Mi have aquestion and they, how do they contact boks? That now I'm not saying they'regoing to. We have to have people work, ING, twent, FO, seven, but in that samesort of thought, process of. Why do we still work our hours? Still in thatformat, we have to think about how technology can expand capacity. So partof the other part of the other side of the research was all right. How arepeople expanding their work capacity through the use of technology, andagain it was just cursory, it wasn't advance, it wasn't sophisticated. Itwas just to get by, and you know...

...examples from that. You know includethe ability to transform the off. You know: Where are you for work? You knowso your office no longer is your physical office space that your officecan be anywhere. You have a laptop in Internet connection, the idea thatthings like automated tasks, you know whether it be through social throughweb or through email. Where you, you know, auto, send emails or auto reply,emails or schedule emails to go out. You know like these are ways that youknow our colleagues have figured out ways to expand their work. Ofassicsthey coul take on more and do more in the interests of best serving ourstudents. What I found in the research is that, after they've hit that theystopped and it's it was incredibly enlightening and parts frustrating whenyou think you know, if you just kept going down that you know that path alittle bit more, you could discover more ways to do it, and I know thatmany of my colleagues plates are full. Everyone is busy, everyone has, youknow, they're, definitely doing it their other dues as a sign as groaned.You know to more and more and more because of the current climate, butgiven all of the technology ats out there, I think there has to be- and Ithink I wrote this in Medotation- that there has to be calmed out time, whereyou allow yourself to explore tect other technologies or talk to folks ona regular base about what they're, using ND in professional developmentopportunities. Asking those questions like what else can cloud basetechnology do? What about our website? Are they mobile, friendly or a e? Theymobile optimize, like asking better questions about the technology andsurrounding yourself with people who might have a more of a digital mindsetto explore some of these questions. Yeah taking it back specifically toyour thought about the Eit to five kind of traditional campus culture andenvironment. One participant in your study noted that, specifically, whenwe're working with adult students, they are not going to be reached through thetraditional campus activities office, and so we have to figure out somethingelse. What specifically have you figured out at bridgewaters stay for atleast better engageing with adult students. So, given the fact that Urour student, I think our average student age isn't the eighteen totwenty four, I W I hate saying traditional age, because I just don'tthink that's a thing anymore, but I think the average age of our adultstudents, twenty five or twenty six. I have to verify that. So don't quote meon that, but I know it's older right because of our Grad student populationbecause of a returning student population, because many of ourstudents work full time an are coming back for either completion of degree orthey got their associates ar coming back pipeline through the communitycollege system. But for us it's the integrated marketing approach, where wehave to figure out waste aparte with faculty the partner with the Deans andpartner with you know the spaces on campus that every student goes to ourclassrooms right. So you know how do we put messaging in the classrooms thatenable us whether it's through blackboard so physically, in theclassrooms on white boards, where Werewe advertise things written out orposted through a poster, but then also do something on blackboard, where weask faculty to include in their sylabuses, you know the help desk, forit there's ways you can get them besides phone call and email, you cantweet them or you can send a message, a be a facebook if they have a facebookpage up. You know, I think it's just rethinking. You know thinking aboutthese adult students and they're coming from a f. You know with their familyresponsibilities and thinking about from from work, whete the best ways,and we know that email. While you know, I think I hear this a lot. Studentsdon't check their email well and actually, don't think, that's true. Ithink they do check their email if they want to engage with them on email. Ouremails have to become better. I I generally think our email suck like. Ireally do like if the emails three paragraphs, all text who's going toread that right. But if it's you know an image that is embedded in the email,that's a meme or some kind of inpographic that points a link to amobile optimize webpage that they can then do their own search on. I thinkthey will open their email. I think they will engage with us, but I thinkwe still look at email as still a textbased tool when it doesn't have tobe right. Sure that's the prime use of...

...it. But I think, if we're talking aboutengaging students, it's encouraging faculty to try and think of new ways toengage them over either the black core system or the MOODAL, whatever theirlearning management system is and find ways to intergrate, more video, moreimages, more things that frankly, this generation regardes of their olderadults, Jennex, baby, bloomer or older millennials, or even now, our you knowour geny and Genz folks. You know, I think we need to rethink how we do thatand for adult students, particularly as they come in and out, because that'stheir sort of modeout they come in and out parking Garageas, I know, have beena spot for our folks and transferring commuter services where they do workwhere they're physically out there talking to students. I think we losesome of that art of like that based to face because we are so busy, but if youcan carve out time to whether it's at high touch points in the in the year,whether it's at orientation or ther's, the first week of classes or whetherit's doing mid terms or finals, you know walking through the campus centerwalking through the dining halls, making sure that anything you put indining halls, you know, has easy to follow. Links for people to get to onething that I know we've been trying to do more of is using bit Bitley andother link shorening technologies to create branded link. Soit's easy to remember. I know we have purchased Web urls just so it's easy tosay it to people, so they can remember. You know we're in a funraising campaign.Right now, through the film with road race organization were raising moneyfor internships and scholarships. All fifteen of our runners have their nameruns falmouthcom if they want to contribute to our fund. Raising effortso and runs. Falmothcom is a thing, and it's easier t remember that than some.You know our friends and advancement use Imodules, which is a nice. It's anice piece of software, but I wouldn't say it's like it's easy to rememberthose links, Thatr theah actual link itself, so some of these things havehelped us connect with our adults tudents a little bit better and frankly,it connects with all students. So we've actually moved away from the idea thatwe have to do something different for adult students and something differentfor our. You know our traditional Quorte, I'm using air cortes right now,traditionallage students, because I think everyone's in that same boat,where we are bombarred with so many messages to day like how do we get ourstuff to stand out? And it's really that integrated approach where there'sa poster. There's a flyer: There's facebook, theres social integration,there's a story! That's pointed to a mobile up to my site, there's a call toaction, how's a sense of urgency. Like all of these things, we don't separateit. We don't target it to a certain population anymore, because what weefound on our campus is that everyone's in the same boat- and I love it- somereally really good ideas there on how student affairs divisions can change tobetter serve the role of pretention and development. How does the universityaround the division need to change from an organizational standpoint or howdoes one go about getting university buying? Because a lot of thoseactivities that you mentioned are broader than just student affairs? Howdo you get cultural and university buying I'm big initiatives like thisyeah, so this is where I think a lot of my colleague struggle, because it issort of that navigating campus politics, it's being a change agent on a campusand it's hard for some folks, depending on where they sit in the organizationalstructure, because the academy is Hirarchical, I mean you're not going tobe able to work around it like you can in some other, you know in business ora nonprofit or other sectors of work. Higher Ed is is just naturallyhierarchical. So, depending on where you sit in the organization, you knowthe first thing I tell folks if they're really exploring. This is understandingorganizational theory and many of my colleagues who ere liprabably listeningto this have done this in their Grad work. If they've taken Grad classes,one of my favorite books is from bullman an Dal. It's an ork theory bookthat many of us known and it covers, what's called the four organizationalframes, and so I tell folks a lot of time understand your frame of reference.Are you someone who cares more? Are you a process person? Are you rulesperson,then you're, probably in the structural...

...frame you care about people and howthey feel and making sure everyone has a voice, then you're, probably more AJRFOCUSD. Are you concerned about owning this and the sort of the responsibilityand power that comes with owning the message and messaging capabilities?Then you're? Probably political. Do you care more about the symbolic nature ofhow you know and who does this work, because you know you become that personon campus or that group on campus, that's known as the people to get itdone, then you're, probably symbolic so just running through thoseunderstanding where your supervisor fits in those frames, understanding howyour cabinet and other leadership groups operate. You know to me. Thebest thing I ever did was get to know my marketing communications folks,amyit folks, through you know various cross divisional projects. I wasalready working with them on anyway and when we pitche the idea of creating ourown website and something that was focused on you know, student facingcommunication, current student yeah, we ask Thet me. So what do you think aboutthis? Do you think that's something you guys would want to do that we can helpyou with, or can we own it and run with it because it looks like you guys arereally you folks are really busy and they were like. No, you guys go. We gotall this to worry about and and at the time they were a little hesitant andthe way I approach it at the time. This is again three or four years ago I said:Look. Can we just try it out for six months, give us a six month window. Youknow, because then at least people aren't like. Oh, this is a permanentchange, and now people are going to it's like no e're, not you know in mymind, yeah it's going to be something permanent, hope and something that willwill be a legacy piece that even if I were to leave tomorrow, will stay, butwhen you frame it in a way, that's that's not threatening right. So it's aBeta three six months. Let me run with this. Let's see what we can do, okay,great, so we wan with it and we bought BS Livecom for like ten bucks like itwas low cost. You know we had. We had hired a firm at that point to help usbuild out the site, our first wor on version two of our site nab, but ourinitial aversion, so they wouldn't put strain on our it folks or our webbootshave to build out infrastructure. I mean again, you kind of have to knowthe language, the lingo right, so what kind of Webons frostructured is yourwebsite use like for us? It's druple, our internal facing website issharepoint, which I think is crap, but that's whole otherbut. You know likeknowing that I said look I want to use wor press because that's what I wasused to using for myself and that'is what I at's what I knew and if I wasgoing to be doing a lot of the backend stuff and they didn't have a word presserver on campus, so they had to be okay with US hosting the stuff off campusand knowing that it's not Bridgewdedu Psu life, it's Bsu, Lifcom and makingsure that they bought into that idea too right. Well, when we found at theend of it was, I was able to share so much data with them around engagement.What time were people engaging with the content? What type of content were theyreally loving and eating up like really really? Well, you know on social we'reable to look at demographic data around all right, so it looks like Gaolfencing most most of the folks. Looking at this are within a twsenty o twentyfive mile ratiust of Bridgewaer, that's good. Most of the people on social onfacebook and twitter were in that, eighteen to twenty nine year old greatwere hitting that target. So it helped us really figure out. You know like allright, whos our audience online. What kind of content the scheduling of thatcontent we started, taking phone calls and writing down what would the contentof those phone calls so cyclically? We would know all right. It's August guesswhot people are going Ta, be talking about moving in transitions, payingbills, finding a job on campus, so our content became focused on all of that.So you know people get overwhelming this idea, but it's already happeningaround you. You just have to rethink that that point of contact where, ifyou get a phone call about something chances, are there's probably thirty.Forty other people who thinking the same thing, but they haven't collegeyou yet so, let's figure out a way to put it out on social put it out on on awebsite, that's engaging for people, and we just built off that we just keptbuilding. So we had a. We have a...

...content calenlar now we have, you know,sort of our ebb and flow and then we're also now doing marketing for otherpeople. So we have expanded. Now into this. We've almost become a little miniad agency on campus, where people outside of our division are using ourmarketing team. Now, because they know they can see the the quality from ourstudents number one and Thi and two the fact is coming from their voice is notyou know, forty year old, ed, Cabellin, who's, not cool at all, but but it's mystudents who are absolutely cooler than who can menify it. Who can you know,create videos that are really engaging and funny, and I find it funny, but Iwouldn't have thought of that stuff. You know like I get the concept I getthe strategy and so that those successes and even are failures too. Imean we look at you know. How do you cost this out? How do you scale it?There are years we've overspent our budget. We have to figure out ways thebackfill things, because we're hiring students were hiring in termships,we're doing practic ums and sometimes we would overspend because we wouldknow how much is it cost to created video i'much, the costteriodgraphic, sowe've had to back. You know, take a step back and say all right. So overthe years we have deve. We have a pricing guide online that we're able toshare, but it's evolved Eric to a point now, where it's pretty selfsustainablepeople know the brand weave found ways to integrate with student affairsdivisions at major touchpoints, like I said earlier at orientations a big oneat convocations another where they just say, check Ou, bsfcom and because ofthat are now. Our student portal is now integrated with bsu lifecom because ofthe content piece. So if you go to Mybsu D bridgew dot edu now you can seeour student portals been evolved into some more Moore Moderte and the focuspoint of the student portal is our content from bsu lifecom, which isreally cool. So certainly, I'm not saying every studentAffairis to vision ESD to do this, but my advice to my colleagues who are inleadership in student Af theirs is that who is at the wheel, monitoring andmanaging your student communications for your entire divisions, efforts notjust duding activities, not just resence, live and housing, but for theentire division. I'm not saying you take away that control from thosedepartments. I'm saying you help them. You Augment it and you provide guidanceto them. We've provide ad guidance through social media handbooks. Weprovide guidance, troug writing job descriptions that they can then cut inpacte and remix for themselves, that are learning outcomes based. I justpublished a post on my blog Ed Cabellancom digital training that Iopen up my playbook here it is this is what we do take it run with it, becausethat's the question I just kept getting from people all right, how wis asausage made. You know because the sausage looks great, you know the themeal looks awesome, but how do you make it? So I wrote a post. I put it all H,it's really dense. It's a lot. It's heavy! It's definitely longer than Iusually write, but I think, based on the response. I've gotten it's likethis is exactly what I've been looking for. So I m MI great. Take it use it. Idon't care, you know, have funen with it, because in the end, it's to helpthat our profession get better and ultimately engage our students in a waythat makes them want to come back year after year until they graduate love itat will make sure we linked to that blog. An the show notes as well, reallygood, practical stuff anything else d. You want to make sure we cover beforewe close today or any practical next steps for listeners who are justlooking to get started, improving the effectiveness of student affairs oftheir own institution yeah, I would say Eric to post listening if you're instudent affairs and student affairs and Enrollment Services Unit Yeu, I walstart asking questions to your digital folks, init in the Web Services,division in marketing communications and just get their take on the work youdo in Student Affairs and start offering stories that highlight some ofyour best work right. So we know in student affairs at I know in soing thefairs. All of you are doing fantastic work and there's positive stories thatare coming out and students are being...

...impacted pozsling because of the workyou do well, who better to tell those stories than you and who better to tellthose stories to than your marketing communication and your and your itfolks, so they can put it up as part of the new cycle. I don't think we takeenough time to even share a quick email with our folks. There saying did youknow that this dudent just layed a killer, internship in Washington or an apple or this person studyinganbroad for the first time here or you know, the work you're doing in careerservice is a. We have to be better about sharing those stories and eitherwe frame it and give them something digital to post or they work with us topost something because they're in control of that messaging. So I thinkwe need to do a better job of tooting. Our own horn, if you will, and creatingand or augmenting digital channels on, your campus, is the best way to getstarted really great stuff ad thanks. So much for joining us today, what'sthe best place for listeners to connect with you if they have any fellow upquestions. Sure obviously twitter for me is like the best placeprofessionally to connect. So at Ed Cabellan is Great Linkedin. You cansearch for MN lingdon and you know email. You Know Ed Cabellan at Gemaileverything's pretty much prainded fror, my name now. So if you need to find meon any of the socials it Ed Gabellan and then Ad Gabellana Gmail awesomethanks so much feu time and for joining us today. You're welcome you've been listening to enromantgrowth university from helicks education to ensure that you never missan episode subscribe to the show in Itunes or your favorite podcast player.Thank you so much for listening until next time.

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