Using a social platform: redefining student experience in higher education institutes

Higher Ed social landscape is moving, and Australian institutes have to follow these changes. Indeed, prospective, current, and past students expect more immediacy in their engagement with their school than ever before.

Collecting and analysing activities and behaviours of 128 Australian higher education education institutions, a Hootsuite study highlights relevant figures proving the social revolution has begun. Statistics in Australia are compared to those of leading institutions worldwide, and there is much to do in Australia!

The educational journey for students is being redefining worldwide. As the world’s leading institutions aim to enhance student experiences, engagement and retention, campuses have become increasingly digital educational environments.

A modern ‘digital campus’ fully engages and connects students, improving their engagement both on and off campus, which enables institutions to recruit and retain students, communicate academic success and thought leadership, and grow their reputation amongst a globally competitive environment.

 

How often are institutions actively digitally engaging? 

An Important Activity is Needed

With the view to engaging their students, leading institutions are using a social platform up to 5 times a day. Australians institutions are lagging behind, with 43% of higher educations providers that have not published or shared any content on their platform in over 2 months.

The reality is that more than one out of two institute is never active on a community platform. When you look at the leading institutions, more than 70% of them use this kind of platforms at least every 2 days. Time to change! 

It’s also crucial to encourage students and reinforce the relation between them and the administration. That is usually done by publishing research or thought leadership content from nondoctorate and junior students, but less than 20% of Australian institutes take the time to do it! 

 

Challenges by Australian Higher Education institutions

No coherence in the strategy. While 90% of leading global institutions have centralised social activities across their organisation, only 40% of Australian universities have achieved this. Fragmentation of social and communication initiatives, which are geared toward their individual business goals, community responsibilities, and educational objectives, results in a confusing and risky communication environment that fails both students and administrators.

Lack of engagement. Almost all Australian institutions have a formal web presence; however, 85% have no engagement with their audience on their actual website. Consistently, there are institutional websites aimed at attracting enrolments and informing prospective students, rather than providing direct or real-time engagement with current student services. This trend continues across the social web, with less than half of Australian higher education institutions engaging in public conversations with their communities. 

Irrelevant content. Global leaders utilise social media, website and LMS as platforms to highlight their research and education innovation, collaboration, and knowledge sharing, whereas two-thirds of Australian institutions platforms feeds contain only news and announcements. Most concerning is the activity and perception of communication amongst non-university institutions, with over 43% of institutions not having published any content to their social media accounts over a two month period.

No adapted platform. The challenge for many institutes is also to find the right platform to create their community. With social media being too messy and public and LMS being really formal, it’s hard to find the perfect tool to communicate within a community, and it was our main goal when creating Jumbea.

You Have To Address Directly the Needs of your Community

Students are truly digital and social natives, and educational institutions must not only adapt, but they must also develop meaningful digital connections with students. By publishing relevant content, and listening and engaging social communities in an integrated, coherent way across the learning experience, Australian institutions are in a prime position to transition to the digital campus. With impacts across student enrolment and retention, brand reputation, and student services, the digital campus delivers the tools for Australian institutions to compete within this highly competitive industry at a global level.

With less than 30% of Australian higher education institutions engaging their own social media communities more than once a week, compared to 80% of global education leaders, the opportunity to improve student experiences is there to be taken. A true digital campus places student services at the core of the engagement strategy, to monitor student feedback and comments on social media in real time, and address problems before they escalate.

 

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