Well really it’s not so new it’s just chatting, finding information and answering questions. But how we do that, is it really changing? I think it’s starting to.
It’s not what we are saying that’s changing, it’s how we are communicating that seems to be shifting and what our role as information staff is.
A couple of case studies:
- A friend posts a short notice vacancy on my non-work Facebook page. I post it on a student Facebook group. Within an hour a student asks a question on the group about it. I contact my friend via messenger to get the information and get back to the student. Meanwhile another student seeing the conversation asks another question – and on it goes. All without opening my mouth to speak.
- The other day I chatted to students face to face, by phone, by email, via twitter and using live chat on our website. I also blogged, posted info on Facebook and edited the website. Didn’t touch a piece of paper other than a post-it note!
So what is the role of the information professional?
In the world of Careers the role of information staff is blurry at best and can differ enormously depending on other staff roles.
- A researcher – someone who can find the right information for a clients needs, and can find opportunities and information they didn’t know they needed.
- An information architect – someone who can create a website or publications, that are structured in a clear & logical way
- A facilitator – someone who can help students to access opportunities.
- A communicator – someone who can take the information and make it assessable by using appropriate methods to disseminate it and appropriate language.
- A critical friend – someone who can support students and be there to answer questions and point them in the right direction
- An advocate for students – to ensure their needs are considered when planning service delivery.
- A trouble shooter – someone who will take an issue and run with it.
Who’s changing is it us or them?
It seems to me that we are seeing a cohort of slightly different students, with slightly less straightforward aspirations. They may seem a little tentative or shy about coming forward but they are coming.
- Is student engagement actually working are we bringing this new student type out of the woodwork?
- By using different modes of communication are we showing that we are accessible and not scary?
- Is our language and the way we present ourselves changing? Are we more understanding of students who need more support and encouragement.
- Is it the more buoyant labour market? Commercial jobs are out there, there’s lots of them so do some students feel able to stand back and take a look at a different path rather than feeling pressured?
…as usual a lot of questions and few answers.
…and back to social media
A while back I was musing on social media and where we are going with it. Turns out that was a can of worms, leading to looking at a whole communications strategy and really thinking about what we are trying to achieve as a service.
Where, how and what we communicate is really key to this. Students may choose not to talk to us openly on social media, and that’s ok, perhaps just showing that we are there and not too threatening is enough.