It’s easy to glaze over campus services when assessing the health of an institution. Whether focusing on the attractiveness of an institution in the eyes of its future students/clients or the ability to achieve successful student retention, campus services is likely to take a back seat. Often, the crucial elements of an operation do the heavy lifting in the background – similar to a stellar defense in football – and the less influential elements take the glory.
Consider campus services the equivalent of a stellar defense in the higher education industry. Campus services are essentially the switchboard of all that occurs within a higher education institution. Campus services are the umbrella under which students navigate their class schedule, faculty navigate their curriculum, research projects access their work, and prospective students check out the digital side of their future campus.
Additionally, the campus portal is the interface through which campus services is able to perform or under perform. In other words, it’s safe to say campus services rely on the robustness, mobility, and ease of use via the campus portal. To underestimate the importance of campus services is to leave the future success of the entire campus incredibly vulnerable – if not destined for failure.
Campus Services Go Further than the Students
Charles Vest is president emeritus of MIT, and he has expressed the continued belief that a “meta-university” is fast approaching. EDUCASE Review published a 2009 article in which Charles Vest was quoted expressing his beliefs all the way back in 2006. Charles commented the following: “We are seeing the early emergence of a meta-university – a transcendent, accessible, empowering, dynamic, communally constructed framework of open materials and platforms on which much of higher education worldwide can be constructed or enhanced.”
The 2009 EDUCASE Review article emphasized the importance of campus services going in a more digital, cloud-based direction with a 2009 article by Brad Wheeler and Shelton Waggener titled Above-Campus Services: Shaping the Promise of Cloud Computing for Higher Education. According the 2009 article, “[f]or research-intensive institutions, the need to collaborate nationally and globally is both a research imperative and an economic necessity – particularly in the sciences, where large-scale instrumentation is now the norm.”
Also from the 2009 article, “[s]cientists from multiple institutions share super-computers, librarians share digital humanities repositories, astronomers share galactic images, network engineers share strands of fiber in the same physical cable, and treasurers share check-disbursement services.” These excerpts demonstrate the importance of campus services going in a much more modern direction from the standpoint of internal operations via campus portals / university portals relative to outdated legacy portals.
Campus Portals Drive Campus Services
Campus portals drive campus services – not the other way around. Suppose a higher education institution has stellar campus services, but a terrible campus portal; the ability to drive a successful student experience and/or faculty experience is probably doomed. Conversely, if the same institution were to have an amazing campus portal with questionable campus services, the overall digital experience still has promise. The importance of a campus portal allowing campus services to truly shine, or create the perception of shining, is impossible to overstate.
Campus Technology – a trusted resource in the higher education technology space (“ed-tech”) – has continually followed the importance of technology via campus services. In a late 2015 article titled Changing the Way Users Discover and Access Campus Services by Meg Lloyd, rSmart is continually referred to as a leader in higher ed-tech. Focusing on Indiana University’s experience, “IU partnered with rSmart to offer the technology behind One.IU as a cloud-based solution that can replace or run in parallel to the legacy campus portal. The product from rSmart is called OneCampus.”
Referring again to the 2015 article, “[o]ver the past year, rSmart has worked with more than 14 institutions to deploy OneCampus as a cost-effective, cloud-based solution. Campus adopters range from small, private institutions, including Oberlin College and Lynn University, to large, [multi-campus] institutions such as the University of Hawaii.” Further emphasizing the power of the user experience through OneCampus by rSmart, “[t]he user’s inquiry is met with a responsive search and discovery tool that is as easy to use on a smartphone or tablet as it is a laptop or desktop computer – a quality you won’t find in most legacy campus portals.”