Mobile will bring new life to student services–here’s how

Advanced student management aims to improve student success by being accessible from every device–especially smartphones.

Can one student system strengthen curriculum, improve student support services, and usher in a new technology-empowered mindset on campus? It’s called avoiding the “digital downgrade,” and according to one college, it can–as long as it’s mobile-enabled.

Louisburg College has signed a contract with enterprise applications provider Unit4 to power their institution with a new mobile-first student management system (SMS).

The investment in Unit4’s Student Management software–the 7th SIS they’ve created–allows students to send applications, access their records, check their unofficial transcript, register for class, pay tuition and other fees, and communicate with the college on any device (including their preferred device, the smartphone).

“Unit4 Education Solutions (formerly Three Rivers Systems) has been our trusted software vendor for 15 years,” said Mark Joyner, CIO of Louisburg College. “We have been anxiously awaiting this next-generation [SMS]. We are looking at this strategic project as a way to strengthen our academic curriculum, improve student support services and upgrade our technology.”

Avoiding the “Digital Downgrade”

Louisburg College’s upgrade comes at a key moment as many institutions are increasingly prioritizing improving mobile management solutions. Most colleges and universities have student information systems that are 13 years old on average, which causes students, faculty and staff to experience a hindering “digital downgrade” when going from their own cutting-edge personal devices to the technology platforms provided by their institutions.

Unit4’s Student Management is based on a “touch-first” philosophy, meaning all functions were developed to be mobile accessible with a simple user interface for everyone from students to administrative staff, and were then built-out to fit desktop and tablet use as well.

The touch-first philosophy is particularly helpful to Louisburg’s students, as more than 90 percent of them already own a smartphone and can now save their money instead of having to purchase any other technology like a laptop or tablet. An app is not even required for use; instead, students can go to the campus website and log-in, while the system automatically updates the website in real-time.

“We wanted to start from scratch with the latest technology, and build things the right way from day one in order to improve the student experience, accessibility, and analytics,” said Jami Morshed, VP of Sales for Education at Unit4. “Typically, many tasks bring students to campus or take a bunch of phone calls to complete. We want to build a bridge for this fractured engagement.”

(Next page: Funding the Student Management system; a broad institutional change)