Higher Ed Experience Expectations Rise With The Digital Era
Millennials are all about being social and communicating; as heavily evidenced by social media. This is difficult in post secondary institutions, which can be geographically enormous – some even requiring a bus to get from one side to the other. In addition to campus size, communication becomes more difficult when students are divided into different ‘colleges’, acting as silos that do not allow for easy interaction. Taking these obstacles into consideration, it is no wonder students often have no idea what is happening at their own college or university. Lucky for them, digital communication platforms provide a solution to this problem. In part one, we discussed how digital communications assist in transportation, emergency notifications, and finding a study spot. Let’s take a look at some more situations where digital transformation can further assist in creating a positive student experience and an engaged school community.
Let’s Go Gryphs!
When selecting a post secondary institution, young adults are very interested in the experience they will have throughout their time there. Hours upon hours go into researching colleges and universities to find the perfect fit. Publishers such as Business Insider consistently rate schools based on their school spirit, since it such a distinguishing aspect of campus culture. In Canada, Queens university is one of the most sought after universities. It is no coincidence it also happens to be ranked highest in school spirit. Through digital communication platforms, institutions can increase school spirit by hyping up events, amplifying student voices, and engaging students. With such platforms now having the ability to reach any device; video wall, TV screen, cellular phone, etc., this allows for a broader reach. Giving this tool to student bodies such as clubs and associations, allows them to better inform other students of activities being run around campus. For example, when the annual pep rally comes around, each team can show off their creative attempts to hold the most school spirit. Videos can be updated in real-time, play on a loop, or even be live streamed. This would allow the entire campus to remain involved even if they are unable to attend.
School pride fuels school spirit, so showcasing achievements is crucial. There is always room for improvement in this area. For example, at the university I attend, the only achievements we hear about are those of the football team, or if the university is in the news. On the education side, there is tons of research being conducted by students and faculty, yet if you walk around campus and ask anyone what awards the university has won recently for research, not one student could answer the question. Sports can also fall in a similar category. Besides football, there is no talk of any other sports unless you visit the athletics website. There you can find that the university is consistently winning awards for multiple sports. Showcasing these achievements increases campus moral, adds to campus culture, allows school pride to thrive, and enhances student experience.
Who Doesn’t Love The Buzz?
Students love a campus that is always buzzing. It enhances the experience and makes them feel as though they are part of something bigger; a community. In order to create this buzz, it is the institution that is tasked with creating events, or supporting clubs that will do so. Implementing a digital communications platform that helps increase the buzz is a must for every post-secondary institution. Many of these platforms can integrate with real-time data, making it is easier than ever to produce a large buzz. For example, countless hours go into planning an executing campaigns for the next student body president. When voting day comes around, digital platforms make it easy to showcase real time voting polls as they rise. Candidates must meet quorum in order to qualify, so if not enough buzz is generated this can be very difficult for candidates. By showcasing real-time polls, students are more likely to participate in the voting process, and feel as though they are actively contributing to their community.
Let’s Talk Revenue
Post secondary institutions are a business, and contain multiple different sources of revenue throughout campus. This can include anything from the coffee shop to bookstore, to cafeteria or gift shop. As it stands, these operations currently showcase their promotions through 8 ½ x 11 paper posters randomly plastered in buildings around campus. This requires time and money on behalf of each individual operation to create the poster, print it off, and walk around taping it to the walls. Not to mention, what if there is an unnoticed error on the poster, or the promotion needs to suddenly be adjusted? This again would require an employee taking time out of their day to adjust each individual poster by hand. A digital communications platform would allow an individual to fix a mistake, or adjust a number, on every single deployment with simply a click of a button. As well, different information and promotions could be shown in different areas, the digital signs could rotate through a number of different ads, or promotions could be set to run at certain times of day. This can be very useful for menu boards as well. Prices need to be adjusted? Click of a button. New menu item? Click of a button. Ran out of an item? Click of a button. A lot simpler than asking the graphic artist to redesign the entire board and getting a new sign printed!
Another useful use case for campus operations is simply promoting menu items. At my university, there are certain cafeterias that have different meal items everyday. The chefs not only put time into preparing a weekly menu, but also preparing the lovely dishes. Most students will go home to eat their meals since they become tired of the same old Subway of Pizza Pizza. Don’t be fooled, they can be tempted. If they’re leaving the library and see some mouth watering tacos or roast beef pop up on a screen, you can be sure they’re going to change their plans and stay on campus for lunch. Voila, instant revenue. Same goes for the gift shop, nobody plans to go to the gift shop unless it’s Homecoming or Christmas. That is, unless a flash sale comes along. If a student is using a school computer or mobile phone, and a quick notification pops up that the gift shop is having a 50% off sale today, that student is definitely stopping in on their way home.
Attentive post secondary officials are aware of how important ‘the experience’ is to students. Whether choosing a college or university, this is their second largest consideration next to academics. It is important that officials continue to build upon the experience they provide to students, and move forward with new technologies to remain competitive in the digital era.