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EDUCAUSE 2019 RECAP: What we learned and key takeaways

Last week we traveled to Chicago, IL to attend the premier convening of IT professionals and technology providers across the diverse higher education landscape; the annual Educause conference.

At the conference, Squiz met with various higher education professionals and universities to  showcase how our cutting edge Student Experience Platform can:

  • Improve student outcomes
  • Integrate existing technology enabling student-centricity
  • Transform universities into data-enabled institutions

Here is a recap of the highlights in case you missed the event or just want to relive it. If you missed out on connecting with us at the show and want to learn more, click here.

Key Takeaways

  • Delivering a modern student experience is a top concern. Changes to technology and approach are necessary.
  • Utilizing data to better understand students as well as operational efficiency was another major priority. Integrations play a central role in transforming to a data-enabled organization.
  • The future state for successful universities is to evolve into a “Smart Campus”: a data-enabled, fully integrated, student-centric institution.

What We Learned

EduCause 2019

1. Transforming the student experience is more important than ever

During the conference, there were 97 sessions dedicated to Transforming the Student Experience. The combination of a decline in college enrollment, changing student demographics and the reliance of technology in our day-to-day lives has impacted higher education. Enhancing the student experience is a major key to attracting, engaging and retaining students.

The majority of the break out sessions centered on:

  • Improving the student digital experience
  • Reimagining the office of student success
  • Rethinking IT’s role at the university

Improving the Student Digital Experience

“Institutions are also using technology to improve the entire student experience. Work is now focused on reengineering processes to be more efficient, redesigning services to be more intuitive and effective for students, and revitalizing technology to meet students' expectations. Almost every part of the institution may be involved.”

- 2019 EDUCAUSE Top IT Issues

EduCause 2019

Gen Z is very different than previous generations since they are digital natives and have never experienced life prior to the mass adoption of the web and mobile technology. Their expectations for the companies and brands they interact with are also different than the generations which preceded them.

Since brands have consistently delivered customized messages and experiences to the current generation for their entire lives, these experiences are now normalized. Students expect the same from every brand they come in contact with, including universities.

“They should know who I am and what I want as a student.”

A great example that showcased the type of personalization that Gen Z craves was from Iowa State University. ISU leveraged high profile faculty members, celebrity alumni and high production value to create a dynamite customized recruitment video. It is sent to each student as part of their acceptance to the university and chosen to be part of the “Cyclone family”.

Reimagining the office of student success

Technology has not only disrupted the student experience, but also student advising. In the traditional sense, advisors used to focus on registration and course planning. Current advisors are now tasked with delivering a more holistic experience by providing proactive guidance designed to increase the probability of student success.

EduCause 2019

The advising office of the future will be very different from how it looks and functions today. It will be a centrally managed group of Success advisors committed to driving measurable student outcomes which will be managed by an Advising Director or AVP of Student Success.

“Advising is transitioning from a reactive and impromptu to a comprehensive and continuous approach to student support.”

This transition will lean heavily on the adoption of new technology and a shift to a more proactive approach.

Rethinking IT’s role at the university

Historically, IT departments have been the heart of institutions and have worked reactively. Whenever something goes wrong, people rush to the IT department to get it fixed. With campuses moving forward with digital transformation, the relationship with IT has to change. Gone are the days of being viewed as merely a help desk, IT will be viewed as a strategic partner.

“As a whole, IT departments will work proactively, become more business-focused and have a true partnership with the various business units on campus.”

IT will have a major stake in determining the remaking of universities and positioning them for success in the future. Vendor selection, technology implementation and keeping data clean, private and secure are the top priorities for CIOs in higher education.

2. Becoming data-enabled / student-centric

EduCause 2019

Another popular theme of the conference was becoming a student-centric, data-enabled institution. In order to deliver the best experience possible, colleges must understand and monitor the evolving needs of students and have the ability to course-correct whenever possible. This is accomplished by becoming a data-enabled institution.

Universities have always had a treasure trove of data at their fingertips. Unfortunately, schools haven’t been able to leverage the data they’ve collected because it has been inaccessible. Removing data silos allows institutions to better understand their internal operations as well as their student population.

“By diving deep into data, colleges can increase operational efficiency as well as enhance the experience for both students and faculty.”

Harnessing the power of data also allows universities to transform themselves to become student-centric. For example, Student Advisors often know the problems before students begin to experience them. At a data-enabled campus, warning signs for common problems; low GPA, low attendance, financial risk, etc. can be easily tracked. Advisors can monitor these warning signs and contact the at-risk students immediately instead of waiting for the student to reach out for help.

Squiz’s Student Experience Platform was designed to be a “single source of truth” for both students and advisors. Students can experience “university life on one platform” through a personalized dashboard designed to provide everything they need to be successful at school in one place. Advisors, on the other hand, receive a “360-degree view” of the student through a dashboard designed to increase the probability of student success. In each case, the data is being taken from multiple sources and used to create processes and workflows that have the student’s best interests at the center.

3. Technology Integration

EduCause 2019

Integrations between existing technology and new technology are another key to the success of higher education. They allow for data-enablement, streamlined communications, increased inter-department coordination, overall operational efficiency, student-centricity and enhanced experiences.

An example of this is found through the reshaping of the current student advisory process into fully coordinated care. Since advising crosses over into other departments (ex. Admissions, Financial Aid, etc.) data and technology integrations are imperative for success.

EduCause 2019

In the image above, advisors are able to easily schedule students with a number of services due to system integrations. Without integrated systems, the institution wouldn’t be able to provide the type of support their students expect. Now imagine being able to understand your student population across their entire lifecycle. That is the utopia universities are after.

The end goal is to become a Smart Campus: a data-enabled, fully integrated, student-centric institution.

Squiz’s revolutionary new Student Experience Platform was designed to provide value for the entire spectrum of Higher Education stakeholders by consolidating up to 22 operational systems into a single, mission-critical platform; including instant communications, notifications, alerts, search and support resources - providing higher ed professionals with greatly enhanced student success visibility. To learn more, contact us here.

Lastly, congrats the winner of our Educause raffle.

EduCause 2019

See you next year!

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