Assessing Students' Mood With A Smart Real-Time Barometer

Silke Jakobi

Recently I read a blog about how a new cloud application helps managers and employees improve their health and well-being. The aim of the development team was to create a smart, real-time “mood barometer” to give managers and employees insight into opportunities to improve health, well-being, and engagement.

This work-life application provides the employees the opportunity to continuously assess their working environment. The employee selects what is most important for them, prioritizes it based on their personal needs, and rates their satisfaction. They get immediate recommendations about healthy habits and company support. The more input the app receives, the more it learns, as it is utilizing machine learning capabilities. By using predictive analytics, the app constantly improves recommendations based on the new data it receives from employee self-assessments.

I immediately thought, “Wouldn’t it be great to provide such an application to students?”

A university or college could use a smart real-time barometer to learn more about student life, experiences, and engagement at the institution. It could also evaluate teaching quality and improve student success and completion.

Today, student surveys are often ineffective because that data is generally collected when a student graduates – too late to make a difference. A real-time barometer would be more effective as it is not paper-based or limited to the survey questions.

The challenge is providing a mood barometer while protecting student interests and ensuring data security. It must be clear that the student is put in the center and that it is all about what students need and want. It could revolutionize how institutions listen to and interact with their students.

Every student is unique and prioritize differently

Most students follow a program of study – on campus or online – with the objective of graduating successfully and being prepared for the world of work. To understand what students need and want, universities need a 360-degree view of their students’ lives at the institution.

Student life is influenced by a myriad of factors, whether on-campus or online. These factors can be related to sports, food quality, university facilities, quality and updates of teaching and learning, and more. If universities understand student needs in real time, they could take immediate action regarding particular activities to improve the students’ experience at the institution.

Students would use a single app, similar to the work-life application, selecting the areas they would like to focus on during their time at the university. Whether these relate to teaching, sports, facilities in general, or other factors at the institution, students should be able to maintain, prioritize, and rate their satisfaction for their focus areas.

Students could get immediate recommendations on issues such as which learning content leads to the best results, which sports class improves body mass index (BMI), which courses to select based on criteria such as program requirements, best ranked teachers, etc. Based on this data, the app could immediately recommend courses or events for the student.

Moreover, the app could include data that students enter during assessments, such as “this course satisfies my interest,” “this course is good preparation for the future,” or “this online course allows perfect collaboration with attendees.” At the same time, the university could learn about open demands rather than satisfied demands or surplus.

How can the university get this precise and detailed data?

The app would need to be fed by all sources that store student-related data and that may influence a student’s experience and mood. For example, data from the student information system (SIS), learning management system (LMS), library system, etc. would be included, along with assessments students could enter continuously. It could use gamification to encourage students to enter data; the more data and self-assessments are entered, the more the app learns. Students should be able to assess their university life experience as often as they like. Students could assess university-related criteria by choosing from a catalog and run the assessments as often as they like.

The app could also link to other apps, such as traffic apps, to cover questions such as “how was your journey to university today?” to improve traffic and access to campus. Another idea, related to students’ well-being and sustainability: Students could assess the temperature and light when entering a lecture or seminar room. A resulting recommendation for the student could be, “This room is cold; consider wearing a sweater.” The university could consider different regulations of temperature and save energy. Another use could be to assess waiting time for an appointment, which would improve time management for the student.

Collecting student-related data from several sources, analyzing it to improve student success and completion is understood as student and learning analytics, which is supported by solutions today. However, this app would go a step further, as it includes students’ assessments about the complete university experience. Leveraging machine learning, it could really be a smart real-time experience (mood) barometer.

Wouldn’t it be great to know what students think about their university life? And wouldn’t it be smart if they could directly influence their university life?

For more insight on technology in higher education, see Unravel Complexity To Realize Massive Savings In Higher Education.


Silke Jakobi

About Silke Jakobi

Silke Jakobi is the Solution Director for Cloud Industry Solutions in the Higher Education and Research Industry Business Unit at SAP. She is passionate about driving the user experience and design approach and uncovering opportunities for new innovations. Silke is responsible for adapting the SAP strategy to the current needs of universities and research organizations, especially the SAP solution portfolio designed specifically for the industry. Silke’s team focuses on industry-specific solutions such as SAP Student Activity Hub, SAP Student Lifecycle Management and Research Management, and the latest mobile and cloud solutions from SAP. Together with her team, she uncovers opportunities for innovation related to emerging technologies including the Internet of Things, machine learning and artificial intelligence.