Care to share?


In the past few weeks, I noticed an unusual influx of notifications that my contacts have started using the app Signal. It could be a strange coincidence, but the people I asked explained that it indeed was related to Whatsapp’s new policy update and the belief that their personal information would be shared with Facebook’s ad network.

During times of corona, I've spent a lot more time thinking about the things that I use since they are available to me with little to no cost or effort. As an avid reader of online articles and a heavy consumer of podcasts, I really enjoy being able to acquire information this way.

But I noticed last year that I was feeling more uncomfortable thinking of not only all the people who were losing their livelihoods due to the pandemic, but all the people working to produce and improve regular educational, informative or entertaining content for their audiences and perhaps not meeting their financial or business goals. I started making donations to those in need and subscribing to magazines and apps that I found valuable to "do my part."

Now, with lockdowns being extended and virtual meetings with students becoming the norm, I'm starting to think about the available data academic advisors use to support students. This includes access to grades, study progress (credits obtained), elective choices and information that students volunteer about themselves or their situation in meetings or via email. When meetings were held in person, a lot of key information was relayed through body language, which obviously isn't as easy to acquire when you are sitting in front of a screen.

I wonder if students find this data that academic advisors work with - which was suitable in a Before Corona (BC) world - sufficient to support them today. Would you share more information about yourself with the university if it meant you received more timely and relevant advice? Which information would you share? How would you want it to be shared? Via a survey? Via an app? Something else? 

It will likely take a while before anything changes, but I think it's worth discussing. It will be interesting to think about what it could mean for us as academic advisors and the support we are expected to provide to our students. In the meantime, however, I'll continue to use what I have, do the best that I can and treat the information shared with me with the utmost care.

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