Blog

Welcoming your students virtually: 5 ways to engage with your students through your own app

There’s little doubt now that enrolments for colleges and universities are going to look very different this year. Luckily, although there is nothing ordinary about 2020, educational staff are rising to the challenge and seeing it as an opportunity to push through much needed change and create a new kind of student experience this year and beyond.

The key to making enrolment work digitally is simple – communication. Keeping staff and students connected with safe channels and making those students feel valued and part of a wider experience. Delivering this can be simple when you have your own app to communicate on. Research shows that 87% of UK students use social media apps, so presenting them with a familiar interface that can link off to timetables, student support and online learning resources is something that instantly feels familiar to them.

Creating your own student-facing app is a highly effective way of ensuring that inclusive, wraparound welcome for new enrolments, even in these extraordinary times. So if you’re thinking of lining one up over the summer, what do you need to consider before the launch?

Staff Training

Summer is the ideal time to train staff and allow them to test out the app before launching to students. A safe, fully secure platform which complies to all safeguarding standards and doesn’t share personal details, unlike the less secure open social media sites. Academic staff can use the platform to create groups and start conversations with their students, while business support staff can create a page to update on a certain topic, or message students they need to get hold of.

Using the Master Account

Many users cite the master account function as one of the critical features of their app. This allows a notification to be sent to all registered users. Planning out informal posts a few times a week is a great technique to create engaged users and make your students feel part of a digitally-connected community. Some post ideas could be; Listing why your institution is such a great place to study, sharing news on what’s going on around campus, publicising welcome week activities or advertising student services.

Getting Pastoral Support Teams Involved

Your duty for student welfare is fully supported when you develop your own app. Providing an instant, secure and recorded communication channel with students, it can soon become an ideal method for engaging with student welfare issues, so make sure your pastoral care teams are aware and trained to use the app.

Sharing Your Welcome Information

Welcoming new starters is an important part of the student experience. You may understandably be concerned about delivering this given the current restrictions with social distancing, which is where an app can really help. Make sure your app is marketed to students as an essential part of the joining process, create and promote online events on the app and allow students to set up their own social groups to give them a chance to feel part of the wider community and make those vital connections, all in a safe space.

Collect Student Feedback

Listening, responding to and acting on student feedback is a vital part of the relationship between your college or university and those you educate. The app can be used to make this dialogue easy and intuitive, getting student representatives involved and seeking regular feedback. When your students feel heard, then they will feel valued.

This is only the start of what you can do with your own communication channel. To find out more, watch our recent webinar on how Engage could work for you or contact our team to book a demo.

2020 Engage for Education Webinar with video-thumb