Technology and the Student Experience

Laptop, phone and notepad on table. Photo courtesy of Unsplash.

Technology is not new when it comes to the student experience, from recruitment through to student life and study. But 2020 most certainly underlined how different parts of the journey varied according to institution. On the Hear It podcast I was lucky enough to chat to four guests on this very topic.

First up, Eric Stoller. We talked about the shift to online and the impact of virtual events, potentially on the way institutions market and recruit for years to come. We also discussed retention – something that has long been a challenge in the U.S but perhaps will be more of a challenge in the U.K as we move out of the pandemic.

“With the Pandemic students can just sit at home and learn. That opens up choice and I think we’re going to see potentially more issues with retention as we see more stopping and starting.”

“Institutions are going to need to think about how they deliver learning opportunities in the short term otherwise they will have recruitment and retention issues.”

Eric also shares some of the messages he received at the height of the pandemic from those working in the sector on their concerns over the messaging to students to return to campuses and halls of residence.

We also touch upon the learning and experience around students and the importance of getting technology to interact effectively. *Spoiler – if you’re only just thinking about this you are WAY behind!

Next up we chat to Nathan Monk from We Are Smile and the importance of not viewing technology as the magic bullet for offline problems.

“If you write the wrong brief, it doesn’t matter how good the answer to the brief is, the answer will always be wrong. You have to understand what problems you really need to solve.”

“Don’t let the technology lead the conversation. This is all about discussing the issues and problems and what we as humans we want off the back of it.”

I then talked to Mark Higginson and Guy Andrews from Twenty Thousand Leagues about their Cues.ai tool and how technology can help inform those early conversations with students and improve how we serve them contextually relevant information.

As Guy told us; “We’ve got data on people who’ve viewed content on university websites two years before they apply and then there are people who apply late and over a short period of time. Mature students in the recent climate are also turning their attention to higher education and have reported having a negative experience on institution websites because the content is geared so much to one type of applicant. So, when you’re dealing with such a wide range of users, it’s so important that they see the right kind of message.”

With online advertising being turned to even more so throughout the pandemic, there’s a tendency for university ads to stalk you even if you click onto a website once, so I asked Mark how to get it right.

“We try and ask the right questions at the right time depending on how someone is behaving (on a website) so we know what the next most logical step is. Advertising is not about providing more choice it’s about simplifying the decision-making journey.  You can use it far more as a question and answer method and show contextually relevant information and observe responses. At the moment that’s very much underused.”

You can listen to the Hear It Podcast

On Apple https://podcasts.apple.com/gb/podcast/the-hear-it-podcast/id1532080538

On Spotify https://open.spotify.com/show/16Pi1C1bgE5pByQzryfQkb

On Podbean https://hearitpodcast.podbean.com/