Publication Announcement: Engaging the Digital Generation

I am pleased to announce that the newest volume of New Directions in Student Services, Engaging The Digital Generation, is now available for pre-order (and should be released this month). Edited by Josie Ahlquist and Ed Cabellon, this monograph brings together research and practical guidance for student affairs practitioners that want to better understand how to communicate with digital-savvy college students.

Engaging the Digital Generation

Student Engagement Through Digital Data

My contribution is a chapter entitled Student Engagement Through Digital Data, co-authored with Jason Meriwether. In our chapter, we cover the following topics:

  • Student engagement research and theory
    • Measuring student engagement
    • Social media and student engagement
  • Collecting and assessing digital data
    • Types of digital data
    • Ethics of digital data collection and analysis
    • Measuring social media activity
    • Finding and analyzing public online posts
  • Collecting digital data from campus-based systems
  • Integrating social media outreach through digital targeting
  • Implementing automated reporting systems
    • Making digital data meaningful to potential collaborators
  • Using social media outcomes to inform student affairs initiatives
    • Overcoming objections with data and measurable outcomes

We packed all this information into 14 pages, with the intention that any professional could pick up the book and read our chapter in one sitting—hopefully jotting down ideas in the margins that you can apply to your work immediately!

Real Campus Examples

Since this volume focuses on practical application, our chapter also includes some examples of great work being done around the country, including:

  • Tim Nekritz monitoring online conversation from students accepted to SUNY Oswego
  • Indiana State University using Skyfactor to identify the top five issues facing the new student cohort
  • University of South Carolina using Instagram location data of students celebrating acceptance
  • Erika Fields using social media data to analyze event promotions for the Center for Work and Service at Wellesley College
  • Indiana University Southeast using digital targeting for recruitment marketing

Other Chapters

In addition to our chapter, there are other phenomenal chapters from other scholars that make up this excellent volume.

  • A Historical Perspective on Student Affairs Professionals’ Use of Digital Technology by Ed Cabellon and Julie Payne-Kirchmeier
  • The Digital Identity of Student Affairs Professionals by Josie Ahlquist
  • A Strategic Necessity: Building Senior Leadership’s Fluency in Digital Technology by Kara Kolomitz and Ed Cabellon
  • College Student Development in Digital Spaces by Paul Gordon Brown
  • Setting the Course: Strategies for Writing Digital and Social Guidelines by Laura Pasquini


I’m so excited to see our work in print. I agreed to write this chapter while I was also analyzing my dissertation data and prepping for my dissertation defense, so I spent some long nights and weekends in front of the computer. Seeing both projects finally come to fruition makes me feel like an accomplished scholar. I have thousands of words in print, accessible to professionals on campuses throughout the world. I hope my work can impact the way we view online communication with students, and begin to shape a digital definition of student engagement.

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