Setting Students up for Success Through Two-way Communication
Communication is critical to a student’s success at college or university. The timely flow of information between students and staff is the lifeblood of the academic journey. Technology is the great facilitator of this information flow.
Academic institutions have thousands of staff and students. Even under the best of circumstances, that scale of information sharing poses a challenge: keeping the student body informed of courses, grades, events, etc. Now factor in a global pandemic and the need for students to isolate and study from home in both rural and urban areas, and you have the recipe for a complete communications breakdown.
According to Statista, as of January 2021, there were 38.13 million active internet users in South Africa (65% of the population), and among them, an overwhelming majority (over 36 million – or 63% of the population) also used mobile internet. The role of mobile technology in inclusive academic communication cannot be overlooked when it comes to sustaining a learning culture in a time when remote learning in higher education is becoming the norm.
There is so much information a student needs to absorb throughout their academic career it can sometimes become impossible to keep track of it all: registration dates, campus events, assignment due dates, etc. It can become incredibly overwhelming, setting students up for failure.
A single message sent once through a single channel is no longer an effective method of communication. With the growing prevalence of remote learning (largely due to COVID-19 regulations), notice boards are all but obsolete.
Even on the technology front, students don’t always check or receive emails: messages can go unread for days, be lost among the clutter or end up in a junk folder. Also, this communication traditionally flows in only one direction – from the institution to the student.
Without any way to track or record these communications, vital information can be lost, which can be damaging to the academic careers of students.
Colleges and universities need to meet students where they already spend so much of their time: on social media and WhatsApp. These platforms allow for instant messaging, not only between lecturers and students, but also between students themselves (peer support can be a major factor in student success). It’s self-evident that academic institutions should establish a formal presence on these platforms.
Smart, effective communication flows in two directions and can foster a sense of belonging among students, setting them up for success: students are not only receiving the information they need on the channels they already use, but they are also able to respond and pose queries, seek clarity on instruction or check the status of their results.
Instant feedback and tracking are critical components of this process, ensuring no one is left doubting whether their communications have been received. Privacy is also a key issue: sensitive communications must be secure to protect the personal information of students and staff alike.
A student that is constantly engaged and tuned in to what’s happening on campus will feel much more confident in achieving their academic goals. That’s why a two-way communication strategy is so vital to nurturing a robust learning culture.
ConnectYard is a global social learning technology platform that better connects students, builds a feeling of community, and provides enhanced academic support. Find out how ConnectYard can drive learner engagement, or read our success story on how we helped a major university!
Written by Rob Ewart