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Voices of the Global Community


Leigh Cunningham, Academic Advising Today Managing Editor

LeighCunningham.jpgOur Academic Advsing Today (AAT) readers may not be familiar with how this publication began, how it has integrated with the association’s overall strategic goals, or how its content and format have meshed with the larger higher education literature.

Our current quarterly ezine began in the early 1980s as the NACADA Newsletter and was offered in print format for nearly two decades. In 2002, the publication, then titled Academic Advising News: Communicating Critical Issues in the Field of Advising, transitioned to electronic distribution and advising-related articles were added to reach an expanded audience. The new ePub was offered in two formats: an.htm version and a.pdf version. The electronic edition debuted in June 2002 and enjoyed immediate success.

In 2005, the ezine’s title was changed to Academic Advising Today: Lighting Student Pathways, and the article content was increased; by 2006, Region updates had been transferred to the Region websites and other news had been moved to the Monthly Member Highlights. The unsolicited submission rate grew, and an Editorial Team was formed to review and select articles for publication.

In 2007, Brad Cunningham asked AAT readers, Digital Native or Digital Immigrant, Which Language Do You Speak?  Cunningham serves as an academic advisor for students in Kansas State University’s College of Business Administration, and the verbiage in his question was inspired by the work of education innovator Marc Prensky (2001), creator of the digital native / digital immigrant paradigm. In the proceeding decade, most of us who work in academia had slowly incorporated computer technology into our daily routines and were beginning to understand the power of the Internet, but the onslaught of new tools and mediums that began in 2004 and the burst of new terms describing their use thrust many of us into a state of digital culture shock. For many of us, the term digital immigrant resonated with our struggle to comprehend the “geekspeak” and our concern that, as prophesied by Prensky (2001), we would always be strangers in a strange land, forever marked by our “accent,” with “one foot in the past.”

But even as we pondered Cunningham’s (2007) question, it was becoming obsolete, and members of the AAT Editorial Team reconsidered existing paradigms and discussed format as well as content. Cunningham’s colleague at Kansas State, Michael Wesch (2007), posted The Machine is Us/ing Us to YouTube©, sharing his thoughts about the Internet as not just a place to find information, but as a place where people are being linked in new ways. The homemade video struck a cultural chord; it “went viral” and, to Wesch’s (2008) amazement, within five days (on a “SuperBowl Sunday”!) was at the top of the charts with almost five million viewings; today it has been seen by over 11.6 million viewers. Wesch (2007) followed his initial success later that year with another YouTube posting, A Vision of Students Today, which was shared with NACADA viewers by Jennifer Joslin (NACADA President and AAT Editorial Team member) and Laura Pasquini (Technology in Advising Commission Chair) in a 2011 Webinar, Leading Forward: Technology Planning for Sustainable Advising. Wesch’s continuing exploration of the effects of new media on human interaction has raised new questions that must be considered by all education professionals and has played a role in Prensky’s re-examination of his original digital native / digital immigrant paradigm.

In 2009, Academic Advising Today was given a “facelift” with a new banner and “cleaner” layout. That year, Prensky rethought his earlier work and concluded, 'as we move further into the 21st century...the distinction between digital natives and digital immigrants will become less relevant.” He began to speak of developing “digital wisdom' that transcends “the generational divide defined by the immigrant/native distinction.” In U.S. President Barack Obama, Prensky found an example of the collapse of his native / immigrant paradigm: “Obama, who grew up in the pre-digital era, showed his digital wisdom in enlisting the power of the Internet to enhance both his fundraising ability and his connection with the American people. Understanding that his judgment is enhanced by his ability to get instant feedback from his closest friends and advisors, he has refused to give up his BlackBerry.'

By 2010, Wesch contended that the media environment had developed (and continues to develop) so rapidly that the term digital native no longer made sense, for “there are no natives here.” Many educators from “older generations” began to realize that, because the majority of media platforms have been developed within the past five years, many of us have become more fluent in their “language” than our students. Researchers like Wesch have shown us that a high percentage of traditional college-aged students are not digitally literate. They are on Facebook and exchanging instant messages, and they are highly skilled at entertaining themselves online, but most do not know how to use the tools for educational purposes. The majority have not developed the level of digital literacy they need to function in the world that awaits them.

Wesch (2008) has encouraged educators to “experiment and play” as we seek to use the continuously evolving tools and platforms “in ways that empower and engage students in real world problems and activities… [and] develop much-needed skills in navigating and harnessing this new media environment, including the wisdom to know when to turn it off.” Prensky (2009) suggests, 'As new digital tools appear, especially ones that take hold in a strong way, the digitally wise seek them out actively. They investigate and evaluate the positives as well as the negatives of new tools and figure out how to strike the balance that turns tools into wisdom enhancers.' In a 2010 TEDxTalk, Wesch noted, 'There's no opting out of new media. A new media comes into a society and changes the society as a whole, and we all are a part of those changes; it's not something you can opt out of.' And in a 2011 presentation at The New School in New York City, he exhorted us to move beyond information literacy to digital citizenship.

Clearly, the questions we must ask ourselves have changed in the past five years: What does it mean to be digitally literate? What can we do as advisors and advising administrators to help students develop the technology skills that will be crucial to their future success? How does one become a digital citizen?

Wikipedia (n.d.) defines digital literacy as “the ability to locate, organize, understand, evaluate, and analyze information using digital technology. It involves a working knowledge of current high-technology, and an understanding of how it can be used,” as well as “a consciousness of the technological forces that affect culture and human behavior.” A digital citizen is a person who uses these digital literacy skills to interact with society. Digital citizens have the ability to access the Internet through computers and mobile devices, and they use their skills to create a digital identity, form a social network, develop an online voice, and take part in the digital community.

Members of the Academic Advising Today Editorial Team have been innovative digital citizens interested in advancing NACADA’s role in the larger digital community, and the current group has been discussing what changes might be needed to keep the ePub current.

 A review of the publication began in 2011, and the decision was made that beginning with the first edition of 2012, the ezine’s name would be Academic Advising Today: Voices of the Global Community in recognition of our association’s strategic goal to “address the needs of higher education globally” (About NACADA, n.d.). As the review continued, it became apparent to the Editorial Team that the publication’s.pdf version, like Prensky’s native / immigrant paradigm, had become outdated. In the decade since the publication went electronic, many are now reading the.htm version on their mobile devices. It was decided that the resources that have been used to develop the.pdf version will be put to better use in exploring opportunities to make future editions more “friendly” to today’s innovators and early adopters, such as increasing mobile device compatibility and considering potential new platforms; thus, the June 2012 edition of AAT, which marked it’s tenth anniversary as an ePub, is the final edition for which a.pdf version was produced.

It has been an honor for me to serve as Academic Advising Today’s Managing Editor for the past seven years, and a joy to work with our many authors and the Editorial Team as we have sought to share innovative ideas and best advising practices with The Global Community for Academic Advising. I look forward to a bright, invigorating future for NACADA’s ezine and the adventures that lie ahead!

Leigh Cunningham
NACADA Assistant Director –Strategic Initiatives
Kansas State University
[email protected]



About NACADA (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/AboutNACADA/index.htm

Cunningham, B. (2007, December). Digital native or digital immigrant, which language do you speak? Academic Advising Today (30)4. Retrieved from http://www.nacada.ksu.edu/Resources/Academic-Advising-Today/View-Articles/Digital-Native-or-Digital-Immigrant--Which-Language-Do-You-Speak.aspx

Digital citizen. (n.d.) In Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_citizen

Digital literacy. (n.d.) In Wikipedia. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Digital_literacy

Joslin, J. & Pasquini, L. (2011, September 14). Leading forward: Technology planning for sustainable advising [Webinar recording]. 

Prensky, M. (2001). Digital natives, digital immigrants. Retrieved from http://www.marcprensky.com/writing/Prensky - Digital Natives, Digital Immigrants - Part1.pdf

Prensky, M. (2009, Feb-Mar). H. Sapiens digital: From digital immigrants and digital natives to digital wisdom. Innovate (5)3. Retrieved from

Wesch, M. (2007, January 31). The machine is Us/ing us [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6gmP4nk0EOE

Wesch, M. (2007, October 12). A vision of students today [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dGCJ46vyR9o

Wesch, M. (2008, July 10). A portal to media literacy [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J4yApagnr0s

Wesch, M. (2008, July 26). An anthropological introduction to YouTube [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TPAO-lZ4_hU

Wesch, M. (2008, October 21). A vision of students today (& what teachers must do). Encyclopedia Britannica Blog [Web log post]. Retrieved from http://blogs.britannica.com/2008/10/a-vision-of-students-today-what-teachers-must-do

Wesch, M. (2010, February 26). Using technology successfully in the classroom [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qZqSTaSWU8E

Wesch, M. (2010, April 12). TEDxNYED presents Michael Wesch [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DwyCAtyNYHw

Wesch, M. (2011, November 29). From knowledgable to knowledge-able: Building new learning enviroments for new media environments [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BHJp3MbWAhY


Cite this article using APA style as: Cunningham, L. (2012, September). From newsletter to ePub and beyond: AAT and the technology adoption lifecycle. Academic Advising Today, 35(3). Retrieved from [insert url here]


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Academic Advising Today, a NACADA member benefit, is published four times annually by NACADA: The Global Community for Academic Advising. NACADA holds exclusive copyright for all Academic Advising Today articles and features. For complete copyright and fair use information, including terms for reproducing material and permissions requests, see Publication Guidelines.