Leadership In Higher Education

Student Success Software: Finding the Right Technology

With the rapid advancements in technology, higher education is experiencing a transformational shift in the way students learn and collaborate. Innovative tools are now available that offer an array of possibilities to facilitate virtual meetings, coordinate synchronous and asynchronous interactions between users, and collect data that can help educators and administrators make informed decisions. 

These technological tools are enabling institutions and the average student success center to provide a more personalized learning experience where students can learn at their own pace, collaborate with peers from different geographical locations, and access a wealth of resources and answers online. This change highlights how important balance in online and in-person relationships and engagement is.

Moreover, these tools are empowering educators to better understand the learning habits and behaviours of their students, and adapt their teaching strategies to cater to the unique needs of each student. As we continue to navigate the evolving landscape of higher education, these tools are becoming increasingly essential to creating a successful learning environment that prepares students for the demands of the 21st-century workforce.

Finding The Right Student Success Platform

Faced with digital disruption and a fundamental shift in student demand, more and more universities and colleges are making their move toward innovation.  In a few short years, they have come to understand that the changing tide is unstoppable and that proper adoption of emerging opportunities will actually help them come out ahead, ready to deliver on students’ evolving requirements in the long run.

However, they face an enormous challenge: deciding which student success technology to adopt.

When disruption of this kind takes place, many student success solutions suddenly seem to come out of the woodwork.  As with many waves of technological disruption over history, countless firms motivated by new opportunities will rush to the gates, offering the latest trendy technology.  Whether or not their student success solution is viable or offers up the right fit, there will be no shortage of companies trying to grab a slice of the pie.  

Some solutions will be offered by long-established providers, and some by new and emerging enterprises.  All of them may presume to provide THE solution for whatever layer of operations you’re looking to innovate.  This makes it even more difficult for higher education to evaluate and decide upon which technology stack to adopt.

The reality is this digital disruption to higher ed is only beginning.  Looking back at past instances of market disruptions led by technological innovation, no one could predict exactly how the emerging elements would settle in.  

Thus, it is with higher ed: an established model for solving all these student success problems has not yet fully taken shape.

Historically, a couple of noteworthy events have been observed with technologically-driven disruption:

A slowdown in productivity despite the rapid increase of technological breakthroughs. This is known as Solow’s Paradox (attributed to the economist Robert Solow).  As technology advances certain applications in a field, the productivity that results from its adoption actually slows down.  If anything, this is the opposite of what one would expect.

While there are a few theories attempting to explain this counterintuitive result, one of the more widely accepted reasons involves the time it takes for new users to adopt the technology, as well as the time delay before any productivity begins to actually show.

A good example of this is the popularity of electric vehicles. 

While electric cars seem to finally begin reaching a critical level of popularity in order to make it in the market, the technology did exist years and even decades ago.  The model of an electric vehicle simply wasn’t able to establish itself despite being earlier in the race than one would have guessed.

And so, after some trial and error in the industry, a shakeout will occur where the dominant model(s) will take their place.  And just what the dominant model may be cannot be predicted with any certainty.

What Does This Mean for Higher-Education?

If you are looking for something that perfectly aligns evolving student demand with your adaptive strategies beyond the classroom for universities and colleges, it’s unlikely that anything is readily available.

This is a great opportunity to think about how processes can align with new student demands around on-demand learning, remote learning, hybrid scheduling, more flexible semesters, and so on.

Don’t Look For Features. Look For Fundamentals. 

It is crucial to select technology that seamlessly integrates with the evolving medium and processes being implemented. This not only empowers staff to enhance retention and student engagement, but also allows students to easily access services whether they are on or off campus.

While features are important, it’s easy to be tempted by a few of them to satisfy an immediate need at your university or college. 

Looking at it from the perspective of your overall workflows and systems and how they would integrate with new approaches, you can see the challenge from an educational perspective before adding any technological context.

Ask yourself how you can track data, create a holistic hub for students, and offer a platform that allows you to consolidate all of your technologies into one place where you can integrate with SSO, SIS, and LMS to increase confidence, keep track of courses and grades, and schedule any needed appointments necessary.

Are Students, Service Providers, and Institution Admin Get On The Same Sage?

This will in turn give you a better idea of what to look for in the technology. And so, by looking at the fundamental workflows instead, you lay the foundation for a better long-term fit. Schools need software that can grow and adapt with them so they can communicate, track data, statistics and growth, and create a technological environment of inclusion to empower students.

The new wave of solutions for higher education has arrived, but it is only the beginning of a more extended exploration for both institutions and technology providers.

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