Digital Leadership Skills for College Students

In a Digital World: Dr. Josie Ahlquist takes a forward-thinking approach to living in a increasingly digital world. She worked with students so as to help them discover better practices in a world dominated by social media and Zoom sessions.

Courtesy of Josie Ahlquist

In a Digital World: Dr. Josie Ahlquist takes a forward-thinking approach to living in a increasingly digital world. She worked with students so as to help them discover better practices in a world dominated by social media and Zoom sessions.

Here at Washburn, especially since the pandemic started, students have witnessed firsthand the struggle of handling all the different ways technology has become involved in our lives.

There’s social media, schoolwork online and countless Zoom sessions to attend throughout the week. To a lot of students this can become draining to handle.

In this evolving world, it’s important to know how we can be digitally smart and build a better success for our future. Social media can be used to our advantage as we grow in this modern world.

To help students achieve their digital goals, a digital leadership meeting was hosted by Isaiah Collier, the director of student involvement, who was joined by Dr. Josie Ahlquist to give students a good learning opportunity.

Dr. Ahlquist works with people through digital leadership to learn strategies to better their lives. Dr. Ahlquist’s work is grounded by her grant funded award-winning research that has given her the opportunity to work with people from around the world.

During the event, Dr. Ahlquist talked about how throughout the years, our methods of socialization have evolved as our technology has grown. The options for outreach amongst a person and other communities is constantly growing and changing. It’s important to be aware of this and know what social media platform will provide the best opportunity to achieve your goals.

Now you might ask, how does social media help me be a better leader? Dr. Ahlquist answered this question by marking the importance of how we use social media, especially as college students. From Snapchat, to GroupMe and so much more; we all use social media to communicate amongst our team members and better our communication as a whole.

The pandemic has largely increased our use of these platforms and oftentimes we find ourselves struggling with handling all these different apps while also being moved to online for the majority of us. It’s important to know when to use these apps, and how you can use them to their greatest benefit.

When using social media platforms it’s important to know what’s a personal app and what app can be used in a more professional setting. Using your Facebook that has all of your family and friends is a social media that should be kept mostly for your own personal life, a great alternative to using Facebook and messenger is GroupMe. Using GroupMe or similar messaging apps allows you to make chats with your teams and have a secure and private place to communicate effectively.

Communication is key in times when we can’t always connect in person. While having different methods of communicating is vital to our everyday lives, it can also cause issues for our own personal health. Quite a few helpful tips were offered and one that stands out is the anxiety-inducing effect of notifications. Becoming a digital leader is an important skill in this day and age but when we’re constantly getting notifications it can affect how efficient we are in our communication.

To avoid becoming overwhelmed, change the settings in the apps you use less often for communication including Twitter or Instagram. Turning off even just the pop-up notifications for these apps can help you focus on the communication you need to for the day.

With wellness in mind, we know that being digitally educated is so much more than knowing how to use platforms.

“A very common theme is you have to know yourself,” said Dr. Ahlquist. “The more you know how you work, what you like and what you dislike, what your values are, who’s important to you; the clearer and more committed you can be to people, to decisions, and to how you show up on and offline. In digital spaces a term called digital identity has been used often to help at least start the conversation of what it means for me to have self-awareness online.”

To examine Dr. Ahlquist’s words, we know that what we post online reflects who we are as a person. Our digital identity can never be erased so it’s important for us to represent who we are and if you’re using social media as a professional this is incredibly important when building a brand. What you post can reflect what you see as important, it reflects your values in life and builds your online personality Dr. Ahlquist explained.

Applying leadership to the digital world becomes complicated in this day of age because we can’t always control how things will be perceived. Showing up online requires you to be authentic and open with others and communities. All of your connections will show up within one search on google. When we apply these thoughts to building our leadership in the digital age, we know we have to be a conscious user.

Digital wellness can be best in the long run for your image and mental health, having the skills to know when to take a detox and step away is a skill to practice according to Dr. Ahlquist.

College students have to do our work online and attend Zoom sessions, and during our down time we’re often on YouTube or texting friends. Dr. Ahlquist had an answer to this constant intake of online media.

“Taking stock and looking at our digital consumption can help you see how you can cut back. Instead of reading on my kindle I physically read on a book. Ask yourself ‘what are the things I need?’ Answer that question for yourself, what do you need? What can you cut back on? What can you do to better promote yourself online?”

Get connected! Contact info for Dr. Josie Ahlquist
Facebook: /DrJosieAhlquist/
Twitter: @josieahlquist
Linked in: /josieahlquist/
Instagram: @josieahlquist

Edited by Donna Whipple, Matthew L. Self