There is no doubt that technology has changed the way we communicate, behave, and learn. Higher education has seen a change in learning and teaching initiatives as well as recruitment and engagement. Most campuses are utilizing a mix of emerging media and traditional media to connect with current and prospective students. Social media has now become the norm for almost every higher education institution. There is an acceptance and understanding that institutions must have some sort of presence on the main channels (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn).
Nonetheless, there is one opportunity that is at the top of the list for higher education professionals: mobile technology. Mobile technology gives universities a chance for deeper engagement where their target audience spends a fairly significant amount of their time: smartphones. Half of all college students used mobile gear to get on the Internet every day last year, compared with 10 percent of students in 2008, according to Educause, the educational-technology consortium. Millennials are avid smartphone users who believe that technology makes their life much easier. Just yesterday, I was on the campus of Brown University at Johnny Rockets and two undergraduate students requested to speak to the manager about an on campus food ordering application. The mobile application in development will allow Brown University students place orders at on campus restaurants directly from their smartphone devices. The cross strategy opportunities are endless for all parties involved.
1. Mobile Website/Mobile Application: Websites are the focal point to experience a university in a cyber world. However, universities must understand that the web experience must also be transferred to smart phone devices. This can be achieved by creating a separate site that will identify mobile browsers (some content management systems automatically detect this) or the university can create a unique mobile application. Third party learning management systems such as Blackboard have created mobile applications that can be used in conjunction with a university’s online and on campus courses.
2. Real Time Alerts: There are a variety of channels for real time alerts to students on campus or within a specific distance. These real time alerts can be used as a safety measure during a crisis on campus or even as a method of engagement for specials, promotions, or events. SMS, RFID, and Bluetooth are a few examples of notification channels.
3. Mobile Commerce: Shopping with mobile devices is catching on in the world of mobile technology, and this includes on college campuses. University of Denver and Stanford University are two examples of universities that are embracing on campus mobile payment options for their students. For the university this will allow enhanced monitoring of your best and least performing shops on campus.
4. Branding: QR Codes are actively being used on college campuses across the nation for various purposes. For example, QR Codes can be used for on campus brand awareness initiatives, video streaming, location based discounts, and even as mobile payment option. Universities can also customize their QR Codes by shape, color, and size. Another example is Purdue University’s Studio Project that takes real time status updates to create a collaborative learning environment. Professors can adjust their course content and enhance the learning experience in the classroom.
The Benefit: Gold at Your Fingertips
Integration of mobile technology in higher education means extensive data will be transmitted in a short amount of time. Universities must now analyze the information that has been gathered to really get a deeper understanding of their target audience. The type of data collected will vary depending on the tactic used however; it can range from behavior, learning, and commerce. This can result in new recruitment initiatives and insights to better leverage technology for learning in the classroom.