Generation Z students rarely look up from their smartphones. From snapchat to texting and from selfies to instagram, students never look further than their device to get information.
However, once they get to a college campus, they enter a confusing maze to access campus services like email, financial aid, class registration, laundry, grades and more.
While they may still find these services, it can take time. With so much invested in campus technology, Gen Z expects easier access to their needs.
A Needle In a Haystack
In 2014, Eduventures identified more than 50 categories and hundreds of providers that market and sell their technology services to higher education. This fact alone is why students are struggling to find what their looking for. So. Much. Technology. All located at different URLs.
Take St. Edward’s University in Austin, Texas for example. Their students needs to access Google for email, Canvas as their learning management system, DegreeWorks to track academic progress, Banner to register for courses and NuPark for parking management services, to name a few.
What Are Students Looking for In Campus Technology?
Instead of telling students what they want, try asking them directly. Jordan Cohen, a Senior at Rutgers University, explained that when looking for colleges, “I think the number one thing students look for in technology is, will it make their everyday experience better and is it easy to use.” He continues, “But they’re also looking for if there is something extra or new that they don’t have to put a lot of extra effort into learning.”
Cohen also shares how campus technology can take some of the sting out of campus confusion, like physically navigating around campus.
Student’s know apps. A 2015 report shows the average college student has 30 apps on his/her smartphone. To meet students where they are, consider consolidating all of your student-facing campus technologies in a single interface.
Don’t Speak Geek
You wouldn’t expect students to know the difference between a compiled programming language and an interpreted programming language, so it’s time to understand what language they speak.
If you’re serving up information to Generation Z using technical terms, chances are, they can’t find it. For example, a student wants to search for bus routes and fares. Are you calling this public transportation? They aren’t. When a student wants to see a nurse on campus, they aren’t searching for ‘campus infirmary’, so don’t use outdated language.
In order to help students not only find what they’re looking for but to keep them coming back and staying engaged, it’s critical to speak their language before they “bounce.”
Don’t Give Them an Abacus When They Expect a Calculator
Indiana University moved from a traditional portal to a service discovery tool employing Search to enable the shortest path possible to the desired service. Recognizing that many campus technologies are out of date after 5-10 years, Indiana University developed One.IU to allow students to not only search but also to discover services available.
One.IU works for services whether vended, cloud-based, or homegrown. “It simply makes it possible for any member of our community to quickly access the service they seek, e.g., drop class, change benefits, buy theater tickets, pay parking fine, clock in …whatever,” said Brad Wheeler Vice President for Information Technology & CIO at Indiana University. “Like an App Store, it gives each service owner direct and continuous crowd-sourced feedback from the community of users.”
What Does The Data Tell You?
The argument isn’t how students regard technology but more about the performance of the technology compared to their expectations. This information isn’t gathered in a conference room, but outside of the classroom, where students work, study, live and play.
The ECAR Study of Undergraduate Students and Information Technology 2016 summarized that students’ technology experiences are a function of their encounters with campus infrastructure and their beliefs and attitudes about technology’s use. Consider surveying your students directly or reviewing the Google Analytics available to your related technologies. How does your technology infrastructure work for your current students? Once you know, be ready to change for the next generation!
Further, the same report shows that of the 71,000+ students surveyed, they view technology as something that enables them to engage content in less traditional ways. Does the technology you serve up on your campus check this box?
With the advent of Amazon.com and audio books, traditional brick and mortar bookstores took a hit. Today, Uber and Lyft are directly impacting the car rental and taxicab businesses. You don’t need to look far to see where your Gen Z students are. They’re in the app store. Consider how to streamline your campus technologies and engage them in your download.