As campuses prepare to welcome students back for the fall 2021 term, meeting student needs is more important than ever. COVID-19 highlighted the need for a strong student system with robust features to support all facets of student life, not just record keeping. Tambellini Analyst Dr. Laura Gogia recently shared some student success insights that campus leaders and CIOs should consider before selecting and implementing technology. As an institution defines and matures its holistic student approach, CIOs should be prepared to use current technology or implement new solutions to support that definition. This will undoubtedly vary by institution; however, there are some common expectations and universal features to consider.
Student systems should be selected and implemented with the students top of mind. In today’s mobile environment, students expect to access core functionality from any device, from any location, at any time. As your campus evaluates solutions to meet your student success goals, mobile-ready is essential. Additionally, students expect to access multiple functions in one place. The concept of a one-stop-shop is a critical piece in a seamless student experience. Institutions should not expect students to download multiple apps, visit several web pages, or log into numerous portals to meet their needs.
It is also vital that student solutions maintain the highest levels of accessibility. Platforms that are committed to achieving WCAG 2.0 should be prioritized. CIOs should also consider students who may not bring their technology to campus. Student systems should be accessible whether your student is on campus, off campus, sitting in an institution computer lab, or on a personal device.
As your campus begins a student success journey, CIOs will need every tool in the toolbox to break down functional silos. Students and their families increasingly expect seamless services. If they speak to financial aid, then they expect admissions to know about the call. When students need to make changes to their dining allotment, they expect to do so in the same place they see their course schedule.
To ensure a top-tier, seamless student experience, CIOs should expect to integrate several core student services. COVID-19 highlighted gaps in student support systems, especially if a student cannot physically visit a location. CIOs must explore using a core portal or application where students can access support from several functional areas in one place—at a minimum, admissions and financial aid, advising and course planning, health and wellness, technical support, campus engagement, and career preparation.
As the adage goes, “Rome wasn’t built in a day,” and neither will your portfolio of student success solutions. It will take time to align resources, platforms, strategies, and people to achieve your institution’s goals. In the initial phases of this journey, CIOs should consider using or implementing the following functions first.
Once your institution is ready for more mature functionality, these functions are vital building blocks to support the next level of student support initiatives.
Today’s CIOs have an incredibly unique opportunity to become campus leaders in crucial student success initiatives. While student success is not a singular IT project, CIOs can position themselves to be strong supporters and thought leaders as your institution moves forward. Thoughtful consideration and weighing of potential technology solutions is simply one part of the puzzle.
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