Funding for Anytime/Anywhere Capability
Louisburg College was even able to secure a competitive Title III Strengthening Institutions Grant to help pay for the new system. A five year grant, each year has specific objectives, with the overarching goal being student engagement. For example, one key objective is to engage faculty, which will therefore help engage students.
“This cloud-based, stand-alone system marks a significant change for the institution,” said Joyner. “Most folks attest that higher education isn’t just an 8-5 operation. The capability to be connected, handle issues, and provide student feedback is what’s required today. The ability for staff and faculty to give feedback on a student’s choice of device is a significant change and benefit.”
The Big Benefit in Menial Tasks Made Fast
Largely, the transition is based around helping students to complete menial tasks more easily in order to save them the trouble of coming to campus so that they can better focus on what is really important: their academic success.
“The biggest challenge is students completing necessary paperwork,” said Joyner. “First-time students often don’t know about necessary forms, and this is a big issue with late paper requirements that we’re trying to solve. The majority of students totally don’t care about e-mail; they don’t check often or they never have. But texts or opt-in push notifications would be key in sending friendly reminders. And then we want them to be able to submit on their phones. They can take pictures of signed forms, and send them to secure portals. The smartphone…brings great flexibility in communicating.”
Another one of the key hallmarks of Unit 4’s Student Management system that was not available in previous versions is built-in customization. This extends from a WordPress plug-in that allows administrators to make changes to content, to users being able to customize the look of the user interface and adjust their preferences.
The new workflow engine is perhaps the most impressive example of this, which gives administrators the ability to drag and drop different options into a tree to cleanly map out how the school responds to certain actions and communications.
Customization for Better Student Services
This customization can be especially useful for prospective students who are interested in an institution like Louisburg College, as they can get precise feedback to any questions, and are able to apply completely online in a mobile-optimized app. Meanwhile, admissions officers can access analytics to reach out to students at different stages of the process or help narrow their decision process.
“The majority of web traffic is on mobile phones now,” said Morshed. “Even this process is designed for mobile, with a modern responsive design optimized for each device. Honestly, administrators can run the entire campus on an iPad. The system even has intelligent search, and they can set their most commonly accessed pages or applications as a favorite for easy access. We’re trying to make it all intuitive.”
Current students are also able to register for classes online from any device. Students can search based on course type and availability, while the system intelligently looks for, and notifies, the student on things like schedule conflicts and pre-requisite or co-requisite requirements. Added to the ability to check their transcript at any time, this can help students to clearly understand where they stand in terms of their path towards graduating.
“We’ve provided more tools to the student so that they can take ownership of their success,” said Morshed. “It’s designed to show where you’re at with degree completion thus far, and the system self-advises on what kind of credits are still needed, which greatly helps future planning. You can even explore other degree options, which aids in avoiding drop outs by helping students look at all their options. It’s a great support to academic advising.”
Additionally, Unit4’s says that their Student Management system integrates smoothly with any existing Learning Management System (LMS) used by an institution.
Student Finances and the Future
All financial transactions can also be clearly seen, and students can make payments or access financial aid information like with online banking.
Louisburg College is currently preparing their transformation, and plan to migrate to Unit4’s new Student Management system for the fall 2017 semester.
“We really think this is going to be a game changer for the higher education market,” said Morshed. “It’s going to help the student experience, and it benefits all of us having an empowered and educated next generation.”