Like many of you, we’re busy attending the annual circuit of higher education conferences. While these events cover many topics, we detected a common focus from both vendors and institutions: how do institutions and their technology support students navigating higher education?
At first glance, the focus on student interaction with campus EdTech may seem to be simply about the “conventional” student lifecycle.We believe, however, that EdTech at its best should accommodate diverse and fluid paths. New technologies should support each student’s journey and educational journeys are naturally shaped by background, preparedness, and many other factors. Instead of a one-way street, technology should embrace a full atlas of different roads, turns, and intersections students may travel along the way.
- Ensure Student Engagement. Engagement is central to a student’s success, and institutions should seek out the best technologies that support that engagement. When one considers the different starting points and paths students take through their higher education experience, ensuring engagement becomes more complicated. EdTech should be able to accommodate these complications through frequent student interaction.
- Leverage Existing Ecosystems. Technology ecosystems designed to support the student journey must take into account the fact that students “touch” different technologies at different times. Institutions must ensure that their tech ecosystems have the flexibility to add applications as needed and provide students with easy and secure access to disparate technologies. These systems should also analyze aggregate data sourced from different applications.
Over the past few months our research has uncovered five products that offer great promise in responding to these two challenges.
Ensure Student Engagement
We recently spoke with Scott Harrington, Director of Product & Marketing at Kira Talent. Founded in 2012, Kira, which we covered last year, provides an admissions solution that uses non-cognitive assessments to gain a more rounded view of candidates. Kira is developing a solution that supports student engagement at its core. By leveraging assessment data, Kira provides insight into the non-cognitive strengths (e.g. leadership, empathy, and creativity) of admitted students. This information can help institutions understand how best to engage from the admissions process and throughout the educational journey. We will keep a close eye on where Kira takes their student engagement focus.
Begun as StudentVoice in 2001, Campus Labs is a platform that consolidates data from multiple sources to improve institutional understanding of key aspects of the student experience. Earlier this month we spoke with J.D. White, Vice President of Product Management at Campus Labs, about their student engagement product, “Engage.” Engage allows students to establish, track, and communicate individual pathways, called “co-curricular paths,” towards goals such as leadership or skill development. We look forward to learning more about how Campus Labs plans to develop this product.
Founded in 2016, Wisr has had significant adoption in the alumni relations, advancement, and career services spaces. It is a cloud-based platform which helps students and alumni create and manage a digital community of advisors. In our conversations with Wisr CEO and co-founder, Kate Volzer, she emphasized Wisr as an engagement platform that helps to “connect the dots” within a community. Through Wisr, alumni, students, and advisors come together to help understand pathways to career advancement. We look forward to seeing more of Wisr’s product in upcoming demos and conversations.
Leveraging Existing Ecosystems
At first glance, one may think of large-scale applications such as enterprise resource planning (ERP) solutions or student information systems (SIS) as operational and not directly contributing to student success. At its recent summit, Unit4 sought to challenge that belief by looking ahead to the combination of its Student Management Suite, a combination of an ERP and SIS, with its new integration layer, called the “People Platform.” Institutions would have a flexible core that would allow different applications to accommodate a variety of student journeys. The new suite would generate ERP, SIS, and other data for comparative analysis. We will track the integration of these two systems in the coming months.
Institutional ecosystems consist of multiple technologies, and students interact with these technologies throughout their journeys. One core aspect of these interactions is the management of students’ digital identities (logins, passwords, etc.). Successful management allows secure and consistent access to these technologies. We recently spoke with a vendor, Aegis Identity, whose higher education-focused Trident solution holds great promise in this area. Trident is appealing to us because it is the first identity solution focused on higher education that adheres to open standards. Open standards allow institutions to have a solution-agnostic and flexible approach to managing students’ digital identities, opening up a more diverse technology ecosystem to encompass student journeys. We will monitor this solution and provide future updates.
Our ongoing technology coverage spans student success technologies, as well as tools related to student recruitment, and the core set of solutions that comprise the backbone of institutional ecosystems. We look forward to sharing our insights with you.