• The power of digital engagement technologies to transform education

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    In an era defined by digital connectivity, higher and further education institutions in the UK are constantly striving to reimagine student engagement with the help of innovative technologies. Cinos’ Richard Evans looks at what educators must consider as part of their ability to enhance student experiences, support the staff and teams responsible for delivering curriculum, and provide an engaging, safe, and enjoyable environment for students to study…

    Engaging with students

    One of the first things that must be considered is how you are going to interact with students, families, and other organisations. There’s little point forcing everyone into a telephone queue if they are unlikely to use it, and a study by Openmarket revealed that 75% of millennials said they’re prefer a text-only phone rather than a voice-only phone. Younger generations prefer messaging to calls, and these are the people going into the education system. It therefore makes sense for education institutions to realign the way they engage with these generations.

    Technologies, like cloud communications platform Webex Connect, enable institutions to reach students on preferred channels, such as online chat, WhatsApp, and other social media, creating a seamless and accessible communication experience. Crucially, it’s a communications experience that is much more likely to get student’s talking back to you.

    Easing staff workload with AI

    Right from the outset when prospective students contemplate where and what they want to study, they are going to have questions or concerns that they need a quick answer to. Your digital engagement strategy can help address this without adding unnecessary work on your team. When set up correctly, students and their families can dynamically start a chat session from the website, powered by intelligent AI to field those questions and steer them towards useful resources, whilst still allowing them to escalate to a voice agent when they feel they need it.

    Clearing is a perfect example of a time when staff workload becomes an issue. Trying to meet the huge spike in demand can mean all hands to the pump, but it can also mean increased costs as your call centre flexes up to the required capacity. An effective digital engagement strategy can help here too, utilising AI to field those enquiries which don’t need human assistance. This reduces the number of calls your call centre needs to field, which in turn reduces queue sizes (and wait times!), ultimately leading to happier callers and less stressed agents.

    Creating an environment geared to help students succeed

    Students starting new courses are usually for the first time in their lives having to manage their own workloads, and quite often, could do with a little help along the way to make sure they stay on top of it all. Without a parent standing over them to make sure they do their coursework there’s the expectation that meeting their deadlines is now something they are solely responsible for…  and with a new social scene available to them, remaining focussed could become a challenge. A little help from the learning establishment by way of regular check in messages could make all the difference.

    Proactive Communications Platform as a Service (CPaaS) engagement with students throughout the term will help keep them informed. By doing this you are supporting students throughout their coursework, with features like proactive notifications, assignment reminders, and virtual collaboration tools.

    Curriculum updates and campus news illustrate how institutions can use digital engagement technologies to keep students informed about curriculum changes, upcoming events, and other relevant updates in real time. It brings you and the students closer together and gives a forum to share information either at scale or on an individual basis.

    Supporting student welfare

    Students have a lot to deal with when starting a new course. They may be moving away from home for the first time, juggling a job, and struggling to find their feet in those early days. The key is to start strong, proactive communications, using these technologies to aid new students in navigating the challenges of starting at a new university, providing virtual orientation, and fostering a sense of community from the outset.

    According to the ONS, 37% of first year students surveyed in England at a university have symptoms of depression and anxiety. Your approach to digital engagement can help promote student welfare by offering access to mental health support, counselling services, and anonymous reporting to create a supportive environment from the outset. For prospective students, and especially families waving their loved ones off for the first time, the knowledge that the establishment entrusted with their education has a world-class student support capability with only strengthen their resolve to choose that place and that course.

    The adoption of CPaaS into education institutions heralds a new era of student engagement. It’s not just the technology though, it’s how you apply it and how you create an effective environment for your students and staff. By embracing these digital technologies, education providers in the UK can create an enriched and inclusive learning environment that extends beyond the classroom, ensuring every student’s journey is supported, informed, and connected.

    Photo by Wes Hicks on Unsplash


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