When I worked in student affairs, using an outdated piece of technology was like nails on a chalkboard for my coworkers and me.
If — and when — outdated technology failed to meet the needs of our team, it was hard to keep a project moving. Not only did it present barriers to us effectively doing our jobs, it took our focus away from our real purpose: Supporting our students. We spent so much time trying to make bulky, ineffective tech do what we needed it to that we soon realized that “jumping through hoops” was filed under our job responsibilities as “other duties as assigned.”
I don’t work on a campus anymore, but I hear this story over and over again from folks working in student affairs.
Many student affairs professionals want to deliver the best possible college experience to their students, but outdated technology seems to hinder, rather than enhance, job performance. When technology becomes more frustrating than helpful, that annoyance trickles into the workplace, impacting the way work is approached and completed across the board.
Tech solutions shouldn’t give you a headache — that’s why they’re called solutions. Innovative and streamlined technology tools save their users time, and thus, allow them to create more meaningful relationships with students.
If things like accessing student data, organizing event assessment, and accomplishing day-to-day tasks feels like chasing your own tail, it may be time to re-evaluate your department’s software solutions.
Outdated tech harms the student experience
Campuses create negative student experiences when students have to visit a campus office to fill out a form, only to be sent to another office across campus, to then find out they were at the correct office to begin with. It’s exhausting.
Students have limited free time, so if we employ technology that allows them to complete important forms from anywhere, we have the ability to make their college experience infinitely easier. And let’s face it: there’s no reason to still be using paper forms in your student activities office.
Technologically outdated campuses run the risk of losing students who consider technology to be intrinsic to their lives.
When we asked our own CEO & Founder Reuben Pressman about the future of tech at universities he explained,
“Technology in the ‘real world’, or the traditional world outside universities and colleges, has been accelerating at an extremely fast pace. The university and college market is going to start feeling the effects quickly, if not already.
The institutions that play along with the future of technology and stay progressive, will see success. The institutions who aren’t, well…I’m not sure how much longer the traditional method of institutions will last.”
And at a data-level, incomplete or non-encompassing data collected from outdated software systems can improperly inform decision-makers for future programming, retention, and growth strategies. When data is segmented by separate, non-integrated software systems, it’s becomes absurdly difficult for higher ed professionals to analyze data and create reports.
Obsolete technology scares talent away and squashes productivity
Many of the colleges and universities that are referred to as one of the “Best Colleges to Work For” have a few commonalities which make them stand out: They invest in their people, processes, and technology.
In “The Worker Experience Drives Company Success” Cheryl Cran explains that by 2020, the workplace will be employee-focused because it correlates to happy customers, or in this case, happy students. Cran states that organizational culture will need to be “…networked, flexible, integrated, open and innovative to compete for top talent and succeed.”
Incorporating innovative, tech-savvy processes brings student affairs professionals, students, and other campus leaders together to collaborate on major tasks. Student engagement software (like Presence) is built to streamline workflows, collaborate with students, and move all paper processes into online forms.
According to Robert Half Technology, employees spend an average of 22 minutes each day dealing with tech issues. For someone who works a standard 40-hour week, that translates to about 91 hours wasted on tech issues each year — just over two full weeks of work.
image from roberthalf.com
Automated tasks and online routines means that higher ed professionals can focus on the student who is in front of them — or simply focus on the project at hand. Most importantly, it’s built to help professionals create the best student experiences they can, while reducing stress. If I were still job searching in student affairs, I’d be taking notes on the type of technology (hardware and software) I’d be interacting with everyday.
Your team (probably) needs to update your tech
Technology shouldn’t drain the livelihood from students and staff. The right tech can not only make higher ed professionals happier at work, but also supports an engaging and streamlined college experience for students.
Unsure if you need to upgrade your tech? Here are a few warning signs:
- Students express frustration around obtaining information, filling out and submitting forms, and important paperwork being misplaced or lost by campus offices.
- You don’t use any tech right now, relying on carbon copies and paper to complete organizational processes.
- It takes a significant part of your team’s day to accomplish tasks through current hardware or software, limiting their ability to focus on long-term goals.