Students As Customers And The Focus on Outcomes

Malcolm Woodfield

The student environment is changing across the board to include more technology. Just a decade ago, the use of tablet computers, smartboards, and, in many places, personal computers seemed cutting edge. Today, students, teachers, and staff are achieving much more with further digitalization. With access to new digital insights, schools can become places for far more personalized growth and successful learning.

Common Sense Media notes that media use by children aged eight to 18 has grown so quickly and they now spend twice as much time using digital screens as they spend in school each year. With that fluidity and understanding of technology, there are dozens of ways schools can incorporate these resources into the educational day, not only providing a new way of learning but also a way to gather important data that can further transform the industry.

How modification of student engagement transforms the playing field

One way colleges are changing the playing field for students is by reimagining student engagement and learning models. By creating new offerings and learning models, it’s a new form of education is being created. Here are a few key examples.

Outcome-based teaching and research

Imagine having access to real-time student data to enhance student support and engagement in a variety of ways. Student information, recruitment systems, and learning management data become accessible. This allows teachers and advisers to keep tabs on where every student is in the learning process and meet their specific goals. In a survey of university students in the United States, 77% say schools should use more of their personal information to enhance their college experience and create a far better understanding of each student’s progress, needs, and achievements.

Teaching and research network orchestration

Another key area comes from transforming a school from a place that offers courses into a platform that connects students to the right learning offerings and job opportunities for their specific needs. Instead of being a simple place on the map, the school becomes a network with global connections. That’s empowering for any student looking to compete in today’s global environment.

Optimizing engagement

A variety of tools can use student information to provide real-time data and predictive analytics to help advisers create more success for students. Multiple avenues exist, including social interaction, online classroom learning, and gamification methods, to improve student engagement. The more engaged the student is in the learning environment, the more profound the impact of education on their lives going forward. By providing students with familiar, digital ways to engage, teachers are empowered to reach students on a more effective level.

Tools for creating better student support in higher education

Take a closer look at some of the digitalization tools and methods schools are using to create these opportunities.

Mobile messaging through bots

Many schools have apps, but the messaging or texting tool is at the heart of all of them. This function enables students to send questions through the app and get a response. With an automated bot, universities can support this service without any extra staff on hand. These bots can provide mentoring help, assist with filling out documents, or answer students’ administration questions.

IoT-enabled campuses

Imagine students navigating a complex campus. They need information, insight, and solutions. The school needs data to better plan courses and streamline student movement. IoT-enabled campuses allow this, using sensors and hyperconnectivity throughout the campus to support building management, including student housing. It also creates a safer environment and makes tech-savvy students happy to spend more time on campus.

A student’s education can also be supported by augmented reality, virtual reality, classroom polls, entertainment solutions, and mobile learning. The goal is simply to connect learners to teachers in the most effective and efficient manner possible, while also encouraging peer-to-peer engagement.

Digital transformation is not optional

As I wrote in a previous article for the Digitalist, “Higher educational institutions have the opportunity to exceed student expectations. They can use technology to deliver education offerings in new ways, ways that speak to how students have been learning their whole lives.”

Today’s student knows how to navigate the digital universe, using their mobile phones for information. Studies indicate that students spend over 3.5 hours every day using their mobile phones at school. Schools must be able to provide a digital pathway for students to learn, or they will limit their potential growth and development.

Students want to ask questions and receive instant answers. They need to be able to connect remotely to the classroom and navigate in an IoT-connected space. They rely on social media, VR, and AI, and they are more engaged than ever when digital media is at their fingertips.

Today’s university not only can provide these opportunities, but has few barriers to putting them in place. These tools can help schools raise funds, support recruitment, and develop a broader reach. Digitalizing the student experience transforms student support opportunities and helps the average campus become a connected, virtual network to grow and learn.

For more insight on digital leaders, check out the SAP Center for Business Insight report, conducted in collaboration with Oxford Economics, “SAP Digital Transformation Executive Study: 4 Ways Leaders Set Themselves Apart.”


Malcolm Woodfield

About Malcolm Woodfield

Malcolm Woodfield is the Global Vice President, Head of Industry Business Unit Education & Research, at SAP. He manages a global team accountable for the overall business, market, customer, and revenue success of the Higher Education / Public Services portfolio (including all Applications, Analytics, Mobile, HANA, and Cloud) globally.