The notion of Student Experience in higher Education
The term “student experience” in higher education refers to the overall academic, social, and personal experiences that a student undergoes during their time in college or university. It encompasses all aspects of student life, including the quality of teaching and learning, the availability of academic and support services, the campus culture and community, and the opportunities for personal growth and development.
The student experience is influenced by a variety of factors, including the institution’s mission and values, the quality of faculty and staff, the resources available to students, and the physical environment of the campus. A positive student experience is characterized by a sense of belonging, engagement, and satisfaction with the academic program and overall college experience.
It’s worth noting that the student experience is not just limited to the academic program, but also encompasses co-curricular activities such as student clubs, athletics, and volunteer opportunities. A well-rounded student experience that fosters personal growth and development is important for student success and overall well-being.
Evolution of “Student Experience” in the last years
Over the last decade, the notion of “student experience” in higher education has evolved to reflect changes in the needs and expectations of students. Here are a few ways in which this evolution has occurred:
1- Focus on student well-being: There has been a growing recognition of the importance of supporting students’ mental health and well-being. Colleges and universities have increasingly invested in mental health services, wellness programs, and other initiatives to help students manage stress and maintain their overall health.
2- Emphasis on diversity, equity, and inclusion: In recent years, there has been a heightened awareness of the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion in higher education. Institutions have taken steps to create more inclusive and welcoming environments for students from all backgrounds, including through the development of diversity and inclusion initiatives, multicultural programming, and training for faculty and staff.
3- Integration of technology: Technology has played an increasingly important role in the student experience, with institutions leveraging digital tools and platforms to enhance teaching and learning, communication, and access to resources. This has included the development of online learning platforms, virtual advising and counseling services, and mobile apps to help students navigate campus life.
Rise of experiential learning: Experiential learning opportunities, such as internships, service-learning projects, and study abroad programs, have become more prominent in the student experience. These opportunities allow students to gain practical skills and knowledge, develop professional networks, and explore different career paths.
Overall, the evolving notion of student experience reflects a broader shift in higher education towards a more student-centered approach that prioritizes the holistic development and success of students.
Student experience management in higher education
The management of student experience in higher education typically involves a collaborative effort among various stakeholders within the institution. Here are some of the key groups and individuals who may be involved:
1 – Office of Student Affairs/Student Life: This department is often responsible for overseeing co-curricular activities, student organizations, campus events, and other aspects of campus life outside of the classroom.
2 – Academic Departments/Faculty: The academic program is a significant component of the student experience, and faculty members play a critical role in designing and delivering courses, providing academic advising, and mentoring students.
3 – Office of the Provost/Academic Affairs: This department is responsible for setting academic policies, overseeing the curriculum, and ensuring the quality of teaching and learning.
4 – Enrollment Management: This department is responsible for recruiting and admitting students, managing financial aid, and overseeing the registration and enrollment process.
5 – Institutional Research and Assessment: This department is responsible for collecting and analyzing data on student outcomes, satisfaction, and engagement, which can inform decisions about how to improve the student experience.
6 – Student Government/Leadership: Student representatives can provide valuable input on the needs and priorities of the student body and collaborate with administrators to develop initiatives and programs that enhance the student experience.
Overall, managing the student experience is a collaborative effort that requires input and collaboration from multiple departments and stakeholders across the institution.
How did technology, EdTech improve student experience in the last years?
Technology and EdTech have had a significant impact on the improvement of student experience in higher education in several ways:
1 – Personalized learning: Technology has enabled the creation of personalized learning experiences that can cater to individual student needs and learning styles. EdTech tools such as adaptive learning platforms, personalized learning analytics, and intelligent tutoring systems can help students learn at their own pace, provide feedback, and adjust the curriculum to their needs.
2 – Increased accessibility: EdTech tools have made education more accessible to students who may not have had access to traditional learning environments. Online learning platforms and virtual classrooms have opened up new opportunities for remote and distance learning, allowing students to study from anywhere in the world.
3 – Enhanced collaboration: Technology has enabled students to collaborate more easily with peers, instructors, and experts from around the world. EdTech tools such as video conferencing, online discussion forums, and collaborative workspaces have facilitated communication and collaboration, even across different time zones and locations.
4 – Improved feedback and assessment: Technology has enabled the development of more sophisticated feedback and assessment tools. EdTech tools such as automated grading systems, plagiarism detection software, and interactive assessment tools can provide more accurate, timely, and personalized feedback to students.
5 – Streamlined administrative processes: Technology has helped streamline administrative processes, reducing administrative burden and freeing up time for faculty and staff to focus on improving the student experience. EdTech tools such as student information systems, learning management systems, and communication platforms can help automate administrative tasks and improve efficiency.
Overall, EdTech has the potential to significantly improve the student experience in higher education by providing personalized learning, increasing accessibility, enhancing collaboration, improving feedback and assessment, and streamlining administrative processes.
What could still be improved in student experience with EdTech?
While technology has had a positive impact on the student experience in higher education, there is still room for improvement. Here are a few areas where technology could potentially be improved:
1 – More effective and engaging online learning: Online learning platforms have become increasingly common, but some students find them less engaging and interactive than traditional classroom settings. There is an opportunity to improve the online learning experience by developing more interactive and engaging content, leveraging emerging technologies such as virtual and augmented reality, and creating more opportunities for student interaction and collaboration.
2 – Better integration of data and analytics: Higher education institutions are collecting an increasing amount of data on student outcomes, engagement, and performance. However, there is often a lack of integration between different data sources, which can make it difficult to gain insights and take action based on the data. Improvements in data management, analytics, and visualization tools could help institutions make better use of the data they collect to improve the student experience.
3 – Enhanced support for mental health and well-being: While many institutions have invested in mental health services and resources, there is still a significant need for additional support. Technology could be used to develop more effective and accessible mental health resources, such as teletherapy and virtual support groups, to help students manage stress and maintain their well-being.
4 – Increased access to experiential learning: Experiential learning opportunities, such as internships and study abroad programs, are a valuable part of the student experience. However, they are often limited by geographical and logistical barriers. Technology could potentially be used to increase access to these opportunities by providing virtual internships, global classroom experiences, and other forms of remote learning and collaboration.
According to Deloitte Canada’s report “Reshaping the Student Experience. The Role of Technology in Enabeling Student-Centricity (2023)“, the top three prorities of Higher Ed institutions to improve student centricity with EdTech is to invest on:
1 – Curriculum Management System (CMS) in order to structure the Curriculum creation, publishing and update and allow higher education institution to adapt their curriculum to the labor market and relevant requested skills with agility,
2 – Immersive Learning Technologies to improve and customize learning experience,
3 – Composable IT stategies with saas platform and interoperability of technologies to allow higer ed institutions to adopt and remain at the edge of relevant technology to improve the student experience.
Overall, while technology has made significant strides in improving the student experience in higher education, there are still many opportunities to use technology to create more engaging, accessible, and impactful learning experiences for students.