The COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt higher education, presenting many new challenges for colleges and universities, especially regarding IT departmental planning and budgeting. A Public Viewpoint survey suggests this transition has been difficult for students and administrators alike. Fifty-six percent of students said that the online education available this year will be less valuable than the education they received last year. Higher education institutions must navigate new COVID-19-related challenges if they want to fully serve their students, retain funding, and nurture strong reputations in their communities. A campus portal should support IT Departments in empowering students to become more active participants in their own education while ensuring colleges and universities continue to deliver quality information that supports rigorous curricula.
The Challenges Higher Education Institutions Face During COVID-19
Higher education institutions across the globe are facing budget cuts. Many have responded by laying off faculty, which leaves universities trying to serve students with fewer resources during unprecedented times. Some schools have switched entirely to virtual learning, creating a demand for improvement in IT infrastructure. Others are juggling hybrid models that include both in-person and virtual learning, which requires an agile approach to instruction and technology at a time when resources are slim.
Communication with students who are learning off-campus is critical to their ongoing engagement. The right portal can help struggling students access campus resources and can help improve student retention.
The Role of Digital Access to Campus Resources in Departmental Planning and Budgeting
The right digital campus solutions help everyone stay virtually connected. A user-friendly campus portal supports learning and operational continuity, even when colleges and universities face budget issues and physical disruptions to on-campus learning. A well-designed UI for digital resources such as a portal:
- Facilitates communication with both remote and in-person students
- Allows campus-wide communication across and between all campus departments
- Enables campus mass notifications in the event of a pandemic update or other emergency, such as a storm or violence on campus
- Provides transparency, empowering students to access important information no matter where they learn
- Keeps students up-to-date on campus news, fostering engagement and encouraging academic achievement
- Allows communication across multiple channels, such as in-app push notifications, CAP alert compatibility with an E-Alert system, targeted alerts, and banner messages
- Provides a centralized location where students can access campus resources, saving time and reducing stress during emergencies, including the COVID-19 pandemic
- Saves resources and prevents frustration by reducing the time students spend looking for information and the time administrators must devote to managing student queries
The Right Solution for Challenging Times
Colleges and universities sometimes respond to shifting student needs with a piecemeal approach, adding departmental apps as needed or pasting a new link on the campus website. An ad-hoc update strategy leaves students searching for the information they need, and can even depress student engagement, particularly if students cannot access vital information. Instead, aim for a solution that offers all of the following:
- Search, click, done: Quick and easy keyword searches must produce results so students can promptly find what they seek. OneCampus offers keyword search capabilities that are similar to Google.
- AI Service Discovery: Smart service discovery helps elevate resources, events, and information to visitors before they even know they need them.
- Reporting: Intuitive, attractive reporting helps analysts understand what resources students need access to, and where they are getting held up.
- Mobile-friendly: By 2025, nearly three-quarters of people will access the Internet solely from their phones. In order to gain student users, a UI must work on mobile devices. Avoid software that limits or eliminates features when accessed from mobile devices.
- Easy implementation and management: At a time when colleges and universities struggle to do more with fewer resources, the campus portal must not burden skilled technical resources.
- Personalization options: Students should be able to customize the interface to meet their needs, such as remembering settings and prioritizing links or portals on the home screen.
- Easy communication: Communication is critical during a pandemic. The UI must enable seamless communication of information to students, whether in the form of campus-wide announcements or individualized alerts.
OneCampus offers an all-in-one portal where students can access the information that matters to them. Administrators and faculty can send critical communications without burdening IT in complex maintenance and updating. Schedule a OneCampus demonstration to learn more!
rSmart has more than 20 years of history serving post-secondary organizations. OneCampus is proud to serve over 1 million students and is trusted by campuses across North America, including Texas A&M - Central, University of Hawaii, Notre Dame, Citrus College, and many more.