Ready Education has developed a Connection Platform that makes communicating and sharing timely information with your students very convenient and simple.
News about the current outbreak of the infamous coronavirus (COVID-19) has colleges and universities wondering what they should do to keep their staff and students protected and informed. Questions are arising about how best to communicate critical information both campus wide and to specific groups. Many institutions are beginning to realize that they are not fully prepared for emergency situations and are worried about the impact both academically and socially in the extreme event of a campus shut down. In order to alleviate some stress in such uncertain times we have outlined a few ways that you can start to strengthen your online campus experience to keep students engaged and set up for academic success.
Engage - Create a strong sense of community - beyond brick and mortar
We are currently in a time of massive change as lifestyle adjustments are being made on a global scale. We are however lucky about one thing, that this all happening at the time of the tech boom, where there is an app for just about every problem that needs to be solved - including the communication challenge in higher ed. These technology solutions today enable us to work and study remotely and continue business as usual. However, this is only possible with the right tools in place to accommodate this new style of remote life. A common concern of accommodating for remote campus experiences is the fear of losing that person-to-person connection. With this in mind, it’s important to invest in tools with a focus on community building. Make it easy for students to join clubs online, chat with school friends, stay informed with assignment deadlines and be aware of all campus events and activities. While this provides the foundation for improved communications across campus, it becomes significantly more important in the presence of unforeseen events such COVID-19 where we are forced to adapt our lifestyles.
What if you could have a similar social media experience that is dedicated to your campus alone? In a time of crisis, real-time, open communication can be a lifesaver. It can become the go-to place for administrator’s to disseminate information as well as the go-to place for students to receive the latest information. The Campus Wall is a private campus community that allows you to get real-time updates to students, either ad hoc or via an integrated RSS feed, which is a huge timesaver. This is a great place to evoke discussion and gauge the sentiment of your students at any one time. Here’s an example from our friends over at Saint Augustine’s University who used a Campus Wall to get North Carolina specific COVID-19 information out to their campus community late last week.
Another community building tool to keep in mind is a private messaging tool. We’ve heard some great stories of students using this to collaborate on projects at a distance. It’s also a great way for advisers and counselors to remain connected with students when physical office visits are not possible. In times of crisis, students crave connectivity more than ever, and it helps to have a single application where they can reach out to anyone in the community if they have questions or need help. With a campus app, it’s easy to facilitate discussions, administrators have the ability to assemble digital discussion groups in lieu of a physical tutorial or study session.
In times of quarantine, it’s important to keep students communicating, engaged and informed on the latest updates regarding the spread of COVID-19 and how it impacts classes and campus life.
Communicate - Make sure emergency messages are received in a timely manner
The phone tree days are long gone and email is not far behind in line to be entered into the history books. Although email is still a medium that is used widely today, 54% of emails to students remain unread which is too big a risk in times of a global outbreak. This stat is overwhelmingly high however, not overly surprising as we all know from personal experience, that we are far more likely to respond within minutes to a text or an Instagram direct message than we are to a lengthy email. When it comes to a crisis or health emergency, there simply needs to be a better way to reach our students with a medium that is a pleasure for them to engage with as opposed to a pain. When it comes to a virus outbreak it is imperative that the information is delivered quickly and spread fast throughout the community. During emergencies, in-app push notifications will be your right hand man. Push notifications are not only integral to an institutions’ communication strategy, but it’s what this generation of students expect. Whether you want to push out an emergency notification campus-wide, or to select groups, this will be a go-to in times like these. Below are two examples of campuses leading the way:
Shannon College of Hotel Management leverages our STUDIO feature to create a COVID-19 tile
Post University uses push notifications to get the word out to the community
Educate - Give students seamless access to academic information, in real time
When it comes to remote campus life, students want to feel like they can access everything they need all in one place. Nobody wants to login to 10 different platforms to get to the information they are looking for. It’s frustrating, discouraging and simply not enjoyable to use. This is why single sign-on capacity might also be something to consider to reduce the barrier to entry and so students can securely access all relevant information they are looking for in one place, academic or otherwise.
COVID-19 has certainly challenged higher education institutions around the world yet, many are reacting with amazing real solutions that keeps students engaged.
If you have any questions please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. We have a full team of client success consultants that will be delighted to help you out and answer any of your questions.