By Rainer Pirker
The next wave of mobile adoption for universities will require more than mere investments in infrastructure to support the rising demand on WiFi – it will mean elevating the user experience by constantly evolving application design strategies that reflect and resonate with the changing preferences of students.
These designs are increasingly transactional, like mobile wallet functionality, and incorporate greater data analytics and social tie-ins that further refine and improve the user experience and deliver new services.
For example, creating a fulfilling, dynamic learning environment requires building on mobile engagement strategies that link to social communities to engage on other platforms that students rely on for information and collaboration.
Many universities are already using apps to ‘crowd source’ maintenance and repair requests to improve campus safety, or monitor complaints on social media about service delays on campus bus routes to help create more efficient transportation services.
Beyond campus safety and services, mobile also has the ability to integrate with analytics to help universities gain a single view of the learner, predict outcomes and provide the right support at the right time to improve student performance and reduce drop out rates.
Czech University of Life Sciences Prague (CULS), in particular, is a prime example of how to successfully adapt to the new reality of student life. With the ubiquity of mobile technology among its student population, CULS built a mobile platform to provide immediate access to the campus services students rely on most.
To start, it focused on access to information on high-demand services outside the classroom: money and food. Simple queries enable students to check account balances on their student debit card and inquire about menus at campus cafeterias.
With the success of these initial apps, CULS now views mobile as its primary communications channel, recognizing it as a valuable opportunity to build better relationships between students, staff and University service providers.
It may sound like a quantum leap – from the freshman dorm to donor – but universities that invest in creating positive interactions with students at every opportunity, similar to the way a retailer views a customer, are well positioned to reap longer-term returns including increases in enrollment and generous alumni.
Embracing mobile technology and using it in conjunction with social and analytics tools to create stronger, trusting and rewarding relationships with students is something all universities can be doing. Using insights gained through those interactions to create a lifelong passion for learning and academic achievement is where the best universities excel.