7 Ways Digital Experiences Unlock Connected Campuses for Higher Education
Higher Education is more of a business than ever before. To stay competitive, institutions need to attract and retain the right students, faculty and staff. Add the rising expectations of constituents, and the case for digital transformation is clear. An experience-centered solution bridges your users’ journeys across the prospect-student-alumnus lifecycle, and unlocks the ultimate achievement: creating a lifelong connection between people and your institution that delivers loyalty and advocacy now and in the long-term.
And the ability to deliver these solutions digitally is more important than ever. Campus shutdowns and the lack of preparedness for remote learning when institutions went suddenly virtual led to revenue loss and overall uncertainty throughout the higher ed industry. So as your institution turns its attention to 2022 planning, be sure to understand why it’s essential to provide holistic digital experiences for your students that cover their entire lifecycle. When you embrace the value of digital experiences and unlock the ability to educate virtually, you’ll be ready for the unexpected and delight the students who have come to expect seamlessness in all of their interactions.
Explore seven ways that intelligent digital experiences enable your institution to empower students, engage faculty and activate alumni, and enhance continuing education programs.
Digital Experiences for Higher Education
1. Provide Constituents with a Connected, Personalized Experience
Your top priority as a higher education institution is to attract and retain the right people into the classroom. Too often, higher ed systems are disconnected and disjointed, and your legacy systems are outdated to a digital-first audience. With a compelling digital experience, you’ll improve education delivery to supplement their in-class journeys. Simplify access to key systems and streamline processes like onboarding, helping your learners identify the resources and groups they need to succeed. Tailored applications that leverage hyper-relevant data keep your students engaged and delighted, which boosts enrollment (and therefore revenue) for your institution. By consolidating access to your once-disparate systems, you can integrate grades, calendars, courses, announcements, alerts and more in a highly personalized, connected experience.
The Wharton School, the prestigious business school for the University of Pennsylvania, undertook a digital transformation to give their students these more connected interactions. After relying too heavily on email to try and engage with students, they needed a more personalized experience that put their students’ needs first. The new community, built using the Student Success Accelerator, successfully deepened engagement with peers, courses, staff and the school. It enhanced UX beyond the classroom and unlocked a variety of features like personalized roadmaps, simplified resource access, organized news and alerts, and a much more active student body.
2. Reduce Support Calls & Simple Inquiries with Self-Service
Your constituents are used to being able to do things on their own in their interactions with companies, and they now expect the same from colleges and universities too. Digital experiences let you enable self-service mechanisms, streamlining student support to make their lives easier and enable your faculty to focus on more important matters.This self-service starts at the application process, and remains effective throughout the student lifecycle. Admissions can automatically trigger next steps, and your institution can see exactly how far along these flows your students are. Access to knowledge articles and FAQs and the ability to connect with student ambassadors lets prospective and current students find answers to simple questions on their own. And your students won’t need to worry about missing crucial steps; a digital experience lets you integrate course registration, payments and grades, with notifications to alert them to next steps. Your cost to serve goes down and your students’ satisfaction goes up as they can seamlessly navigate relevant processes.
3. Improve Constituent Engagement & Communication
Higher education institutions want their learners to actively engage and communicate with the school. This allows you to enrich their learning journeys and identify areas for improvement. A digital experience helps you modernize and consolidate legacy systems to streamline their interactions. You will easily facilitate peer-to-peer networking, leveraging groups for things like activities, interests and courses in a social feed-based, one-stop shop. At the same time, student/faculty collaboration is made easier as well, letting constituents ask questions and find answers directly from their instructors. Overall, this boosts engagement and retention as relationships with peers and instructors are made more seamless.
Harvard’s Graduate School of Education implemented a transformative community that would unlock these use cases for its students. They moved on from disjointed, desktop-centric systems to create a centralized, integrated hub that is mobile-friendly and personalized for students. The learning community gives students quick, easy access to the tools they need, and enables peer-to-peer collaboration directly within the experience. Students can find relevant content and frequently used systems quickly, and the innovative experience benefits Harvard as well: the university is now able to consistently enhance its students’ lifecycles in a fraction of the time at a fraction of the cost compared to their previous unengaging solutions.
4. Increase Consistent Collaboration Among Staff
Your faculty and staff need easy ways to collaborate with students and each other, and a digital experience is the easiest way to do that. Just like with student experiences, higher education institutions often battle disjointed systems that make life more difficult for staff. A faculty community means fewer systems for your instructors to jump between to find resources or student information. Tasks are easily automated to improve efficiency, and other features are easily integrated that boost staff engagement and productivity. Social profiles, staff directories and private and cross-departmental groups streamline collaboration and content management, letting your instructors crowdsource research, best practices and other ideas from one another.
5. Reimagine Alumni Engagement with Centralized Experiences
One of the biggest challenges facing higher education institutions is to overcome disengaged alumni. You want them to become donors, attend events, and serve as advocates to prospective students, but it’s hard for them to do that without an easy way to stay involved after graduation or certification. Innovative, personalized alumni/cohort experiences serve as intuitive, seamless ways to continue interaction and engagement with your institution. You’ll reduce ad-hoc email usage and reduce manual tasks and processes, which is more likely to bring today’s digital-first students back to interact with your school. Digital experiences serve as private social networks where you can share news, events, and groups based on your alumni’s locations and interests. With these solutions, universities will re-engage lapsed alumni, build relationships, drive event RSVPs and donations, capture success stories and increase overall alumni satisfaction.
Towson University, which has more than 165,000 alumni worldwide, needed to overcome their own disconnected portal that sent alumni engagement to undesirably low levels. Leveraging 7Summits’ Alumni Engagement Bolt, they deployed a one-stop, personalized, mobile-enabled solution called “Tiger Connect” that provides quick easy access to the content, tools and support their alumni need to get (and stay) engaged.
6. Increase Continuing Education Enrollment (and Re-Enrollment) with a User-Friendly Experience
Having a truly user-centered experience for your Continuing Education programs increases prospect volume and the overall enrollment in your courses. Once constituents register for your courses, the intelligent, personalized experiences you give them will keep them satisfied and more likely to re-enroll in future programs. A digital experience lets you deliver more learner-centric connections, with predictive insights that proactively surface content, resources, colleagues and their specific program’s next steps in a one-stop shop.
Tools like SmartMarch take these insights and make the experience even more relevant for your users. After completing one program, it will automatically recommend others like it that enhance or build upon that knowledge. It can also suggest professionals or other connections that strengthen your students’ networks based on the field they take courses in. These career growth and additional learning opportunities, combined with the user-friendly tools and personalization, boost user satisfaction and keep them likely to enroll in additional programs.
Learn more about why higher education institutions should prioritize building innovative digital experiences for their continuing education programs, and the value they[ll unlock by doing so.
7. Fix Back End Silos to Support Instructors Running These Programs
Digital experiences for continuing education don’t just enhance user journeys for your students; you’ll better support the administrators and teachers who run these courses. A connected, automated experience fixes back end siloing, letting instructors focus more on their students’ issues where they might otherwise waste time and energy covering the gaps in disjointed virtual solutions. You’ll increase efficiency with better workflows and case management on the admin side, and better data collection and surfacing eases their workload. Finally, this data collected by digital experiences gives your administrators better visibility into participation outcomes, letting them see program effectiveness and value to individual students.
To attract and retain students, faculty, and staff, higher education institutions need to function more like businesses than ever before. As digital natives arrive on campus as students (and increasingly as faculty and staff), implementing these types of digital experiences becomes more and more critical. Regardless of the type of user you’re trying to appeal to, it’s easy to understand the value of an innovative and intelligent experience for your higher ed institution.