Quality digital tools and services enhance the student experience, boost recruitment efforts
- Implementing new technologies can yield challenges for students, faculty and other campus users that are not accustomed to these tools, especially if instruction on their use is “nebulous and frustrating,” writes Eric Stoller, a student affairs and technology blogger for Inside Higher Ed.
- Stoller suggests institutions provide quality customer service around digital services, and pressure "old-guard” technology companies to provide systems that meet or exceed users’ expectations or aligning themselves with "solutions/providers with less built-in corporate rigidity."
- He also advises that institutions’ marketing teams and communications offices make sure that digital services like campus mobile apps make sense for their students' preferred user experiences, so that the technologies enhance the overall student experience and boost branding and recruitment efforts.
Virginia Tech CIO Scott Midkiff told Education Dive earlier this year, digital tools that are "supporting the business needs, the functional needs [...] teaching side, the research and the policy, administrative side of the university," will be most effective and most likely add to the overall student campus experience.
However, technologies that are poorly integrated, or handed out to the campus body without adequate information on how to use them, can result in several use challenges and leave students frustrated.
“The journey from new student to alumni is a tale of bad design, crashed systems, poor mobile experience, and a user interface that is all too often like a junk drawer in a kitchen...everything is technically available, but you can't find anything when you actually need it,” Stoller wrote in his blog post.
One way of mitigating this problem, Stoller noted, is for institutions to treat digital tools as though they are part of the entire student experience.
Another way is to integrate students into the process, according to Midkiff. He told Education Dive that having students with STEM expertise work with university IT systems means the CIO and his or her team can incorporate student input into the analysis, design and implementation of new systems, which will not only help the institution, but also help students gain valuable workplace skills.
Investment in social media and technologies, including campus apps, was named Education Dive's 2017 Best Investment for higher ed. A number of institutions have mastered digital user experience for particular student needs. Here are some examples:
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