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5 Ways Technology Can Be Leveraged by Student Affairs to Support Holistic Student Success

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In a time when many of us are craving in-person connections and feeling the unique fatigue that came with this past year’s sharp increase of screen time, it can feel taxing to think about additional ways to utilize technology in the higher education space. At the same time, we have found inspiration in the innovative ways our colleagues in student affairs have used technology to maintain relationships and continue supporting students emotionally, academically, and socially in the face of the challenges brought on by the pandemic, the economic downturn, and the latest series of racial injustices in the United States.

As we consider the spectrum of what the college experience will look like in the coming months—from fully remote to in-person and the various hybrid models in- between—the timing is ripe for revisiting the roadmap for providing holistic support to students and how technology can support these efforts.

The following are 5 ways that technology can be leveraged to holistically support students in all areas of their campus experience:

Empower student leaders

From official peer mentors in the career center to the international student who informally mentors other inbound students, champion student leaders can be found across all parts of campus. These students can carry a wealth of relatable experiences along with unique access and reach when it comes to connecting with their peers.

A meaningful encounter with a student leader can spur a peer to engage with the campus community in a new way. Mentoring peers can be a valuable opportunity for students, particularly those from diverse groups, to process their experiences, see how far they’ve come, and validate their own growth.

Tools such as MentorConnect centralize access to these valuable conversations and connections. Giving mentors the ability to easily set up profiles and availability empowers student leaders and makes it accessible for them to share their experiences with students eager to make genuine connections.

Create consistency

Many factors can impact a student’s experience on campus when it comes to the resources, support services, and departments they interact with. The decentralized nature of higher education contributes to an environment where there are vast differences in how and when students engage with student affairs departments and their services:

“I didn’t know there was a BIPOC in STEM club until my TA told our study group about it!”
“My advisor volunteers at the Q Center and invited me to their career day event.”
“How did you get signed up for the emails for First-Gen students?”

Have you encountered anecdotes like these? Word of mouth will always be a valuable means of communication and adds to the serendipitous nature of the higher ed experience. However, students who may not have these chance encounters or have yet to build up the social capital to network and seek connection points risk losing out on the programming and resources designed to support them.

Promoting opportunities, events, resources, and support services from a variety of departments in one streamlined place, like Campus360, contributes to a more consistent and equitable student experience.

Facilitate collaboration

Often a third rail of higher education, information silos create barriers for students as they access resources and for staff and administrators attempting to assess the inventory of resources available across various parts of the institution. Collaboration around diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts between offices often rests on the shoulders of individuals who take it upon themselves to make connections and find spaces to connect, versus a structural element that withstands evolving teams and personnel changes.

Implementing a shared tech solution in which departments are part of the onboarding process from the beginning helps to create a common element between departments that can be built upon for deeper collaboration. Relationships grow deeper as best practices for using the tool are developed and a shared knowledge base is created.

  1. Target efforts and resources: At many institutions diversity, equity, and inclusion programming encompasses a broad range of events, resources, and initiatives implemented in various departments and offices. From identity-specific outreach to broader initiatives around belonging and campus culture, it can be difficult to track what is in motion related to DE&I programming at any given time, and who these programs are serving.

Employing technology to collect data on what resources and support services students are engaging with can greatly improve efficiencies when it comes time to analyze program effectiveness and prioritize outreach efforts. Access to insights and analytics on DE&I programming across campus provides greater understanding of how different student populations interact with DE&I resources, allowing for more targeted program development and data-backed decision making.
Maximize staff capacity
Even at institutions with low staff-to-student ratios, there are times when students require support in a personalized manner that simply isn’t conducive to many of our offices’ capabilities. Given the variety of administrative, logistical, and planning tasks that are often officially or unofficially taken on by staff and administrators, the valuable time they have available to support students in a targeted and personalized way—either through program design or one on one conversations—is often limited. Tech solutions can increase staff capacity by simplifying and scaling processes such as managing mentors, sharing resources with a large audience, and promoting events. Additionally, solutions such as Pathway Courses increase the capacity of offices and departments to provide culturally relevant and identity-specific resources, maximizing their ability to provide tailored support to students with diverse and intersecting identities.

Technology solutions, when thoughtfully and intentionally implemented, create opportunities for new ways to engage with student communities that may otherwise feel disconnected from many areas of campus. When solutions are designed with the various and intersecting identities of today’s students in mind, they are particularly powerful as they serve to close the gap between the great intentions of our offices and the measurable impact our efforts have on the lives of students.

For more information about Includifi’s Diversity & Inclusion Student Success framework and suite of solutions, we invite you to schedule a demo.
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