Why the modern campus will rely on collaboration technology

Why the modern campus will rely on collaboration technology

Key takeaways

  • Higher education institutions can keep ahead of the curve through the integration of synergic technology
  • Think of technology as a tool to enhance student engagement
  • Share data and enable a data-driven culture

As technology evolves, so does the higher education campus. For example, student enrollment is becoming digitalized, with online enrollment systems instantly adding registration information to one centralized database.

Coronavirus has also been a driving force for institutions choosing to devise their digital transformation strategy. This is even more so the cause because of the pandemic. Institutions are expected to remain competitive while maintaining expectations for students, staff and faculty.

One way higher education institutions can keep ahead of the curve is through the integration of synergic technology. Students and staff are now accustomed to collaborative technology in their personal lives. Whether it’s the ability to control home heating systems with their phone, to e-Calendars giving reminders of events, to instant messaging platforms aiding communication, staying connected has become an integral part of everyday life.

The modern student, staff member or faculty advisor has become accustomed to using technology in everyday life, and they expect the same from higher education institutions. From the way an institution registers and stores student data, to updating grades on a centralized app, if a campus wants to keep up with their students and staff, it needs to embrace collaborative technology.

Higher student engagement

It’s easy to think of technology as a distraction, instead of a tool to enhance student engagement. It’s commonplace for students to use their phones and tablets as their chief information source, so it makes sense for students to have access to their progress, grades, campus news and more, from their mobiles or tablets.

A 2016 survey by Ellucian has shown that 98% of students want their schools, colleges and universities to use their personal data in order to enhance their time and experience in higher education.

When students have increased access to resources, information and tools, they can take control of their education and direct their own learning. This, in turn, means that they will achieve more, and build a better rapport with university staff.

For example, when Wake Technical Community College received a Project COMPASS is a U.S. Department of Education First in the World grant, they wanted to find an innovative solution to increase their student engagement and success rates for online students.

They had identified that there were persistent, “achievement gaps between students of color and their counterparts”, and wanted to improve the retention rates and the success rates of online students through collaborative teaching methodologies.

They decided to leverage their existing technology and implement Ellucian Colleague®, which meant they could create academic plans to help students stay on track for academic program completion and graduation. They used data to determine baseline and create control and test groups. As a result, they improved withdrawal and success rates by six percentage points for students overall, and 10 percentage points for students of color.

Enabling a data-driven culture

When departments, campuses and silos of a university communicate and share data, they have the ability to better understand what their students and staff want and need. This communication also makes it much easier for institutions to identify and solve common challenges.

This was echoed by Bakersfield College. They aimed to create seamless transitions for students transferring from Bakersfield to their local university and knew the best way to do this was through data-sharing. They used Ellucian Banner® as their data repository to manage critical student information and deliver services to keep them on track.

They were able to identify and pull pieces of data information regarding curriculum, student course-taking patterns, and more. Departments would communicate and store data in one central place, that was easy to access and interpret.

This meant Bakersfield could create a seamless transition for students who were taking courses at the community college and transfer this information to their local university smoothly. In doing this, they were able to increase the number of degrees awarded, the number of students who successfully transferred, and overall student experience.

Automating workflow

Automation in the higher education landscape can maximize efficiency, save time and eliminate waste, all of which will have a positive impact on workflow. This automation can be implemented on a micro and macro-level, whether it’s from free, easy-to-use apps that lecturers can implement, or a SIS (student information system) that eliminates time-consuming everyday tasks.

Becker College had a slow and broken system where they were using PDFs and Word documents to create forms for the students, staff, faculty, and adjuncts. This process was made even more cumbersome because there wasn’t a single, campus-wide source for forms. Different departments would have their own ways of creating a form, which meant there were inconsistencies with the data that was uploaded onto the system, creating many challenges.

In 2017, Becker College started to look for ways to automate this process and many others, while increasing efficiencies across its two campuses. The institution decided to implement Ellucian Workflow to boost efficiency and coordinate the flow of information across each campus. They were eager to implement the system because of its integration with Ellucian Colleague, the institution’s ERP (enterprise resource planning system).

In doing this, Becker had better control and access to forms, and errors were significantly reduced. Additionally, they were able to process new hires in one day, rather than two-and-a-half weeks.

Conclusion

When higher education institutions embrace innovation for internal processes, they can improve how faculty and staff work together, and the student experience becomes prioritized. Easy-to-use, collaborative technology will become ingrained in pedagogy, giving students, staff and faculty a seamless user experience.

Meet the authors
Ellucian

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