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Digital Excellence Earns Student Recommendations

Posted by  Jami Morshed

Digitally sophisticated college students expect their schools to offer a digital environment on par with the technology they use every day. However, the student management systems used in many institutions may not be up to the task. Disappointed students who face a "digital downgrade" on campus are less likely to recommend their school to others. This means that flexible, responsive digital systems play a key role in keeping colleges competitive in today's global education market.

"Traditional" students who started college in their late teens and attend full-time are considered digital natives. They've spent their entire lives surrounded by digital tools and devices for work, leisure and entertainment. However, joining them in the classroom is a growing population of non-traditional students, too - people who are working, raising families or returning to school after years away. These "digital immigrants" also use trending digital technology in their daily lives. Like their digital native classmates, they expect the same kind of tools to manage their student affairs. These two groups make up a student population with high expectations for the availability and quality of digital technology on campus.

All too often, though, these digitally experienced students encounter outdated systems that are cumbersome to use and still require a considerable investment of staff and IT resources. These legacy systems still in place on many campuses have an average age of 13 years. Even with upgrades, they typically fall short of the level of digital technology students are used to using every day.

Traditional student management systems are assembled from older ones, with some upgrades that solve issues within the original framework. That often means that students can manage some aspects of their college career online, but not all - and different parts of the system may require different log-ins and sub accounts

What kind of digital experience do students want? A recent survey of college students from around the world reveals that they're looking for mobile-responsive, cloud-based student information systems that offer "one-stop" access for all services whenever needed. This kind of system lets individuals manage all aspects of student life on their own terms, from applying for financial aid and paying tuition, to tracking degree progress and connecting with instructors. The new generation of student information systems can help both traditional and non-traditional students stay connected and involved with their education, wherever they happen to be.

Schools of all sizes can benefit from a shift from outdated student management systems to innovative digital technology that mirrors the level of sophistication students have come to expect in the world beyond the campus. Cloud-based information systems eliminate the need for on-site hardware that requires IT staff and maintenance, freeing staff to work toward other goals. Because these systems are mobile-friendly, faculty and staff have constant access to the latest versions of tools and services from any device at any time.

Administrators and faculty benefit from new digital technology that reflects their "real world" user experience, too. Systems that organize and unify student information make it easier to monitor student progress, identify problems and work toward solutions to keep students in school and on track to graduation. With tools for messaging, conferencing and collaboration, advisers, instructors and support staff can offer students the support and resources they need to be successful, without the limitations of fixed schedules.

In a world driven by rapidly evolving digital technology, digital innovation is a standard that draws students and builds your school's reputation for excellence.

Jami Morshed

Jami is vice president of global higher education at Unit4. My mission is to help colleges and universities improve student success and institutional effectiveness. I’m responsible for everything we do at the Unit4 Global Center of Excellence to help institutions prepare for the future through scalable and comprehensive software solutions that streamline and modernize core business processes while eliminating the burden of managing ever-changing technology.

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