Keeping students engaged: the ground rules
Following on from last week’s blog on the eight themes of engagement that could underpin your institution’s app technology deployment and adoption strategy – today we’re talking ‘ground rules’. Check out these five basic principles that need to be addressed in order for your digital student engagement plan to be effective.
The way that we consume and use digital technology to communicate, learn, work, and play has changed in ways that could not have been predicted 15 years ago. In our app-driven world of digital assistants and self-service – email simply doesn’t cut it anymore. Particularly with Generation Z, which is now of college/university age. This need to support the digital lives of students is why most schools, colleges and universities are now considering app technology.
Whilst apps are proven to be a great way to connect with students – our previous blog in this series discussed the importance of avoiding the deployment of technology for technology’s sake. To be effective, all app technology implementation decisions really need to be driven by a sound digital student engagement strategy which, depending on the objectives of your institution, could focus on any of the eight themes of student engagement: self-service; recruitment; retention; quality of life; expectations; communication; teaching & learning; destinations, alumni and employability.
As well as understanding the overall objectives of the institution, it’s also vitally important to set the design principles, the ‘ground rules’, which should be applied across the different aspects of your digital student service, so that the end user experience is coherent.
Below are five basic principles that we believe should be addressed by your digital student engagement strategy to ensure the deployment and adoption of your new digital platform is successful:
- Mobile-first. The traditional starting point for providing online services is web, using products such as SharePoint to build an Intranet. However, from a user perspective, a student’s preferred channel is mostly likely to be their phone. As the objective is to maximise student engagement, a mobile-first strategy is highly recommended, supported by a web portal for PC and tablet access.
- Single Sign On (SSO). A major obstacle to user adoption is the need to remember multiple passwords for different systems, or having to log into each one separately. A comprehensive SSO implementation which allows students to seamlessly switch between systems without logging in each time makes a big improvement to the user experience and encourages adoption.
- Social collaboration. A student engagement strategy must be built around communication, collaboration and sharing of information and support. This is not something that can be built onto the side, say using WhatsApp or Skype, but needs to be an integral component of the engagement system, with consistent and supported input from all corners of your institution.
- Personalisation. One of the benefits of a mobile-first strategy is the ability to tailor content and notifications to the tastes and preferences of each student, so that no two students’ experience is the same. Consumer services such as Netflix and Spotify use personalisation to increase the relevance and usefulness of their services, and the same technology can be used for student engagement.
- Master student records. The source of truth for any college or institution is the Student Information System (SIS), which contains every student’s record. Integration with the SIS is the starting point when building a student digital platform, and businesses processes concerning the creation, change, and removal of students’ records on the SIS must be tightly integrated.
Want to know more about how to embed these principles into the design of your digital student engagement platform? As a first step, our Student Experience and Learning Technology specialists would be happy to run a design workshop for you – simply get in touch today. Or for more information on how Tribal can help improve student engagement contact us today.