We’ve often spoken about how the demands of digitally native and technologically savvy students have forced universities and colleges to change the way they engage with students. However, this week after reading an article in the New York Times, it’s pretty apparent that students have their own ideas about how to solve issues on campus and are more than willing to take matters into their own hands.
The New York Times article which first appeared on the 27th of August tells the story of Rutgers Student, Vaibhav Verma, who had enough of being frustrated by not being able to get into the university’s most popular classes and decided to do something about it.
What did he do?
Well, as you may have heard, instead of joining the queues of other similarly frustrated students, he set about building a web-based application that could repeatedly query the university’s registration system meaning as soon as anyone dropped a class, he would get a message, affording him the opportunity to swoop in and be first in line to take the open spot. What happened after that?By the time the following semester rolled round, over 8,000 students had used the app.
The article pointed out several other students who had also taken one giant leap for student-kind by creating their own problem-solving technical solutions; including a brilliantly devised scheduling app that was built by two students at the University of Berkeley who did such a good job it’s been officially adapted by the university.
Ask and you shall receive
Most universities and colleges have adapted most impressively to meet the needs of their students; student portals, responsive websites, intuitive email campaigns and online classes being just some of the ways that institutions now digitally engage with students. However, there’s always room for improvement and who knows more about the needs of students than the students themselves?
Collaborating with students certainly seems to be the way forward. Students in the past have proven more than capable of changing the way the online world works; from Mark Zuckerberg and his roommates creating the ubiquitous facebook to MIT’s original Bitcoin club, there’s plenty of evidence out there to prove that students often do know best.
Our advice to universities and colleges? Don’t just presume to know and understand the needs of your students; instead try asking them what they need. Who knows the all important problems your students could hold the answers to? Our suggestions include; a silent alarm that’s triggered when a free seat becomes available in the library during study week or an app that gives the average queue times of all your favourite coffee hot-spots so you can make an informed decision about where to head for your morning coffee-fix? But hey, that’s just us!
One thing’s for sure, giving students the opportunity to improve the college experience for everyone is surely worth investing in.