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Enhancing student satisfaction with smart campus technology

With the University of Texas announcing that it will be installing Alexa enabled devices across its estate, we look at the contribution the "smart" campus can make to student satisfaction and why it's now critical for institutions to get it right.

Enhancing student satisfaction with "smart" campus technology

Generation Z judge universities as much on their facilities and technology as they do on their academic merit and employment outcomes. When technologies come together on campus they can light up students' experiences and make everything feel effortless and efficient. Conversely, poor technology such as broken timetabling systems and failing room booking software can wreak havoc on campus and really frustrate students. Institutions are investing in campus technology at a key moment of time, as it has become a bigger contributor to student satisfaction ratings.

Meanwhile, the value of student satisfaction has grown

Satisfaction surveys and reviews are now publicly available and comparable across a greater range of websites. And with students weighing up this information carefully as part of their application decisions, this has had a dramatic impact on the perceived identity of institutions, and a direct effect on student recruitment success. In this article, we review the digital innovations being introduced to campuses across the world, from voice-enabled devices to digital wayfinding and electronic room booking solutions and how they can impact how much students enjoy their time at university.

Alexa comes to campus

Alexa is already adding value for students. This month, the University of Texas, Dallas, announced it will be installing third-generation Echo Dot units in all of the suites, classrooms and study rooms at one of its campus locations to help with day to day queries.

Saint Louis University in Missouri already has over 2300 Echo Dots installed in student accommodation preloaded with an Alexa voice app called "SLU", which enables students to easily access information about the latest activities and news on-campus.

Their usefulness continues on a trajectory. In the future, students may be able to call on these devices to find out personalized information such as their results class schedules, who their academic advisor is or when fee payments are due.

Eliminating those room booking challenges

Room booking can be notoriously difficult to get right but is critical to the efficient running of a campus.

Bath Spa University in the UK recognized the value of a reliable solution early and created a system in-house. Rooms across the main buildings have tablet screens on display showing the upcoming bookings and enabling any student or member of staff to log in and book on the fly when the room is available.

There is a wide range of off-the-shelf-software options now for room booking solutions. Joan, for example, is an e-ink cable-free solution, which integrates with Office 365, Google Suite and Slack.

The University of Melbourne uses it to coordinate the activity across over 90 rooms. The institution believes that Joan has significantly improved efficiency and cut down on room booking chaos.

Going digital with intelligent signage

A number of digital signage solutions, from simple digital posters to spectacular HD video walls, are now being used to guide, inform, and engage students on campuses.

Digital signage can be invaluable for wayfinding. Campuses aren't just home to students and staff. They're also destinations for prospective students and other visitors, who frequently struggle to find their way across buildings. Interactive maps placed in high-traffic areas can make it easier for visitors.

But their usage goes beyond this. Digital signage is now proving its value in supporting communication efforts. On some campuses, screens have been installed near seating areas to run live news, university updates and showcase moderated social media posts.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln, for example, uses digital signage to enable departments to control all of their distributed signs from a central location. It also allows departments to share their content around campus with others.

Facilitating Active Blended Learning

The University of Northampton is continuing the development of an ambitious campus initiative to support what it calls "Active Blended Learning".

Its intelligent technology infrastructure is helping students and faculty to share subject knowledge, and boost independent learning and digital fluency.

At Nanyang Technical University in Singapore, they have remodeled the university buildings to enable a blended approach to learning.

Rather than go for the typical set-up of multiple, box-like lecture rooms, a cluster of circular towers are set around a centralized atrium. Space was created to encourage as much student and faculty interaction as possible in integrated social spaces, such as balconies, gardens, and open-air corridors.

Universities are embracing technology and reinventing their campuses

Institutions across the world continue to push the boundaries of technology on campus and are re-thinking university life through innovative architecture, design, and technology.

These initiatives are proving valuable as part of broader institutional strategies enabling students to focus more on learning and connecting.

More than ever before, intelligent campus environments are enabling modern-day learning and equipping students for the workplaces of the future. How does your campus technology compare? And what on-campus tech wows you?

Tagged: Smart Campus, Alexa, Voice Search, AI, Enhancing

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