Virtual Tools Give Academic Advisers in Higher Education a Boost

Universities embrace collaborative platforms and data analytics to guide students to success.

Innovations in digital solutions are helping advisers in higher education maximize their effect on students’ academic careers. 

Advancing technology across industries is blurring the lines between professions, which means students will need their advisers more than ever to prepare for the careers they want. 

“Although many graduates seem to be thriving, on average, learners have neither been advised well, nor do they understand the pathways and the payoff” regarding the skills they need, authors from the Strada Institute write in a recent report, “Robot-Ready: Human+ Skills for the Future of Work.” 

The jobs of tomorrow “do not lend themselves to static job descriptions and simple job titles,” according to HR expert Josh Bersin, who is cited in the report.

Supplementing advising with education technology may be the best way for advisers to help students build on the skills they have developed already and introduce the ones they still need. 

MORE FROM EDTECH: Liberal arts programs are incorporating technology skills to prepare students for the digital workforce.

Online Collaboration Spaces Let Advisers Connect from Anywhere

Building good relationships between advisers and their students is crucial to creating successful outcomes, and one of the best ways to build them is by maintaining open lines of communication.

At Villanova University, Valentina DeNardis, director of the Classical Studies program, found Microsoft’s OneNote Class Notebook to be particularly helpful in advising her undergraduate and graduate classes. 

Through OneNote, DeNardis could easily share updates to the program handbook, keeping students up to date on any adjustments they may need to make to their academic plans. 

“In the Content Library, I list degree requirements, information for study abroad programs to Italy and Greece, links to professional organizations in the field, course listings for current and upcoming semesters, information for career paths and more,” DeNardis writes in a Microsoft blog post. “Using Class Notebook for student advising has allowed me to provide updated program information for students, build community among the students, and offer a more enhanced and personalized advising experience for each student.”

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Technology Helps Advisers Collect and Analyze Student Data

In order to successfully act as guides, academic advisers need to know when their students are struggling — before, it’s too late. 

Collecting and organizing academic data into a student portfolio can show advisers trends that may spell trouble for students’ academic success. 

At Syracuse University, administrators use a streamlined, centralized advising system dubbed “Orange SUccess,” which relies on data sharing and “intrusive advising” to ensure students stay on track. 

The online tool collects data on student progress and allows faculty, students and their advisers to share academic “flags.” These flags can be used to notify students of concerning academic trends or to acknowledge outstanding performance in class. 

Students and advisers access these flags, as well as collected student data, through an online dashboard.

University administrators believe this tool gets to the heart of what student data should be used for: to push for great student outcomes. 

“Even though higher education has been collecting data on students for decades, especially via student information systems, most of that data has not been used to its full potential,” Kalpana Srinivas, Syracuse’s director for retention, tells Campus Technology. “We know that student success can be improved when students, faculty, and staff are on the same page. How can we achieve that? It's possible when we leverage data-informed decision making in student advising.”

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Jan 23 2019

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