Student Experience in 2008 could be summarised as 9am-5pm support, long enrolment queues, paper- based applications, and an online log of activity completed/in progress. The expectation in 2008 was to be able to enroll from home, ask a question at any time, and receive notifications electronically through email.
Fast-forward a decade to 2018 and students expect a very different kind of experience – but in too many cases, still get the 2008 reality.
Students today use multiple screens, have multiple conversations and psychologically download hundreds of messages every second. Their communication is not only two-way its multi-way, across multiple devices (smartphones, tablets and desktops), and via a multitude of platforms (including Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and WhatsApp): technology is at the heart of their every interaction.
So creating the right kind of ‘Student Experience’ means putting technology at the heart of every interaction with the institution – and it’s increasingly the only way to share essential information and get it seen/heard amongst the ‘chatter’.
"Students today use multiple screens, have multiple conversations and psychologically download hundreds of messages every second"
But before engaging, it’s worth noting that, according to a recent study, students are very particular about the way that they prefer to be contacted – and it’s not via their personal social media accounts, as some providers have found to their peril.
Communicating with students via their personal social media, to bridge the gap between email and more instant messaging runs the risk of turning students off – rather than engaging them – whilst potentially opening up education providers’ personal lives to scrutiny… and the students find it ‘creepy’.
So what do students want? What are the 6% of colleges and universities who are getting Student Communication right doing differently?
"creating the right kind of ‘Student Experience’ means putting technology at the heart of every interaction with the institution"
The verdict according to more than 70% of students surveyed is that they now expect to be contacted by institutions via a single, dedicated mobile app that covers all areas of their college or university life. An app that:
- Keeps them on track - enabling teachers and students to collaborate through persistent group timelines to post links, tips, hints and reminders.
- Notifies them of feedback – to keep them informed ahead of their next lesson.
- Makes communication easier - with teachers and other students, one to one or in groups, all in real time.
- Helps them develop relationships - providing a collaborative space to learn and support each other with in-class activities and self-learning.
- Engages them - with curriculum and extra-curriculum activities, deepening their sense of connection and increasing retention and success.
Yet putting instant 24/7 communication in the palms of students requires appetite from staff as well – and this underpins the success of any Student Comms strategy. After all, no one wants to implement just ‘another piece of technology’.
Inevitably, this means a cultural shift within the educational institution.
In our next blog, we’ll be examining what this cultural shift looks like, and outlining the business case for implementing an education-oriented mobile app