5 questions to ask before launching a student portal
The relationship between a student and their college has never been more important and student engagement is crucial to both academic success and retention.
But how a university engages with its students is more complex than ever.
Students want to interact with their college as seamlessly as their interactions with digital leaders such as Uber, Spotify, Instagram and Whatsapp.
“Students have become customers who bring their own digital world expectations to university. These customers are more savvy, better connected and more vocal than ever.” Source: purple consultancy
A self-service portal enables students to gain control of their work, information flow, administrative functions and relationships with educators and peers.
It enables connection and community-building which can in turn significantly provide support to students throughout their educational journey. And it can boost loyalty and brand advocacy.
It also provides a 360-degree view of the student journey so student advisors and university staff can provide the pro-active support students need to reach graduation.
So what do you need to know to make sure you provide your students with the best possible digital experience to lead them to success?
1. Is it genuinely student-centric?
Improved engagement starts with the student context and institutions who have been able to leverage learnings from the corporate sector are achieving better student outcomes.
“The bottom line is connection — feeling like somebody cares.” Devorah Lieberman - President, University of La Verne
It should be intuitive and allow students to easily view and manage their own information including:
- learning management systems
- academic resources
- financial transactions
2. Does it integrate with your existing systems?
Technical debt is created when different technologies have been adopted in an ad hoc fashion leading to an array of systems and software that don't 'talk' to one another.
It's not necessary to 'rip and replace', rather you can deliver seamless, secure integration with your existing systems and data.
And it needs to be mobile-friendly.
3. Does it help engage and support students?
Providing a seamless student experience from their very first day can help you set students up for success.
Students need to manage course information, find classes and facilities, study and assignments, access resources and information, and deal with finances and communication.
Delivering targeted and personalized communications help to effectively engage with students and provide them with access to services and support when and where they want it.
Effectively engaging with students also provides the opportunity to easily identify at-risk students and to take early action to support them.
4. Does it eliminate complexity?
Students want to interact with their college as seamlessly as they do in their daily interactions with digital leaders such as Uber, Spotify, Instagram and Whatsapp.
A student portal should make it easy for a student to find everything they need, on-demand by providing a personalized, secure and centralized single point of access to all information, applications and content.
- real-time access to communication and timetables
- personalized news and information feeds
- notifications and alerts
- self-service tools for student-related business
- online support from course advisors
- access to social and peer engagement
Likewise, simplifying and streamlining academic productivity allows room for innovation and to future-proof your institution. It can also:
- relieve academics of inefficient and wasteful administration and back-office processing
- provide alerts when students need support
5. Is it easy to maintain and future-proof?
When evaluating a student portal, consider how much support - if any - will be required from IT and include this is your overall cost analysis?
- Who will manage updates and patches?
- How often does it need to be done?
- Does the vendor provide this support?
- How flexible is the solution?
- Are you able to build on it and extend it as new opportunities to add value and functionality are identified?
- Will your team be able to do this in-house? Outsourced?
- And which of these options best suit your needs, budget and future requirements?
Being able to connect early, engage meaningfully and deliver a great online student experience that meets the demands of modern-day students can help support your organization's strategies to enhance student outcomes across the entire student life-cycle.
Our Squiz Student Experience Platform (SXP) is a powerful set of integrated tools that enables you to design, build and deliver personalized experiences for your students and employees.
Squiz works with over 130 of the world’s leading Higher Education institutions including Fordham and New York University in the US, the University of the Arts and London South Bank University in the UK, Monash University and the University of Sydney in Australia.