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“Did you check the website?” – never a welcome question. In an increasingly digital world, this should be an exciting time for universities to lead the way with innovative solutions to improve student and staff experience. Static websites overloaded with poorly laid out information are not that solution. So what can technology do for education?
Analytics are for real-time issue resolution
Learning management systems (LMS) are software that can be used to deliver courses. But they are so much more than that. Data can be gathered from the systems to offer insight about student progress, needs, trends, and gaps in support. One university found its predictions of student success increased from 15% to 96%. This kind of information can flag up potential or actual issues before students get left behind.
This data has the potential to improve educational provision on both an individual scale and a broad scale. It lets teaching staff know what is and isn’t working in almost real time, but allows subsequent analysis for wider improvements to curricula and student support.
As LMS can glean data from other systems, personalised online environments can be provided. These tailored environments can automatically include personalised instructions, feedback, and information, depending on a student’s specific needs. For example, students with dyslexia may receive additional reminders about timelines for proofreading services, alongside the formal deadlines for all students.
This personalisation can extend to aspects like the careers service, campus events, job opportunities, and so on. All with a view to increasing access to relevant content and reducing issues associated with complex choice (although this should not become an echo chamber).
Social and collaborative spaces
Online platforms can provide a space for students and teaching staff to interact online, either in structured discussions or open forums. The daunting start of university can also be eased with incoming students able to make profiles online and start chatting with fellow newbies. Alongside enhancing social relationships, logistical and practical information sharing via these kind of supportive networks is a major boon for universities.
Websites and online platforms should always augment the real-life university experience, not replace it. The prospect of personalised online environments places the student back in the centre of education, rather than forcing them to adapt to structures and formats that no longer fit. With appropriate support and social opportunities being maximised, these platforms would more closely match student expectations and enhance the student experience.