Unit4
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It's about time technology took a seat at the front of every class

Posted by  Matt Searles

AI has set about changing the world around us for the good. People across the globe, many unknowingly, are benefitting some form of artificial intelligence, both at work and at home. Do you verbally request a device to turn on your smart lights of an evening? Perhaps Amazon recommended a product which coincidentally fills a gap in the material aspects of your life? Or maybe you’re making use of Siri Digital assistant? What was once novel, even creepy, is now regarded common place; we’re using AI on a daily basis.

Artificial intelligence has found its feet at work, and at home, but the call is now for education to adopt the technology. As the world is experiencing a technological revolution, becoming more accepting of, and even dependant on AI, students, academic and administrative staff have come to expect more. The potential for automation and machine learning to take on repetitive, tedious administrative tasks instead of the human workforce is all over the media. But this pathway to efficiency, flexibility, and agility should start in education. From Key Stage One, through to Higher Education, adoption of AI is instrumental in speeding up administration tasks for institutions.

Modern methods for modern institutions

Academic competition is fierce and attracting students can be tough. With pressure from economic models to be doing more with less, higher education institutions must tout student success and institutional effectiveness. Providing students with a digital experience built around the expectations of today’s mobile user can be what sets a university or college apart.

Tracking student performance

If a student is struggling academically early on in their career, they are at risk of abandoning their efforts altogether. Advances in student management technology mean that these students can be reached out to, and guided back on track. Charting changes in behaviour or character over time will alert the relevant bodies so they understand they may need to reach out in the first place. Intervention can also be recorded to create and update a risk profile for that student, ensuring they get the help they need to succeed.

Mapping the journey to graduation

During times of high workload, students may struggle to clearly see the path from enrolment in their course to completion and gaining their degree. Offering them a process in which to track their progress, and compare pathways to reaching that point will help them maintain focus and identify relevant opportunities to advance. Unit4 Student Management is an advisory tool that shows students how they need to work to move towards successfully graduating. Full visibility and understanding of what they need to do, as well as what has already been done is both motivating and empowering, helping them decide how to proceed through their education.

Monitoring employment rates

Assuring students of gainful employment when they have completed their studies attracts applications and so not being able to track this data puts institutions on the back foot. What better way to showcase why they are the right choice for prospective students than by communicating alumni employability post-graduation? Tracking student progress, even after graduation, provides this data.

Students expect more

In a world where “digital natives” have become accustomed to having their entire lives documented in a hand-held device in their pocket, it stands to reason that they would want a similar arrangement for managing their academic career. A seamless integration of tools to enhance their education, encourage collaboration, and facilitate communication is the minimum requirement. Full visibility of all aspects of their academic affairs, and being able to easily get in touch with the institution about their education will help in managing it effectively.

Boosting student success through digital upgrade

Student Information Systems tend to be the oldest systems on campus. Legacy IT and dated infrastructure means these institutions are missing out on powerful technology poised to unlock student and staff potential through machine learning and automation. Everything from success rates to future planning can benefit, with digital support in both workflow and student lifecycle management allowing time to be spent on higher-value functions, and more informed decision making with visibility across departments.

Matt Searles