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How to build students’ digital experience on campus

From parking permits to enrollment, students have new expectations—and those expectations center around a digital experience made possible with iPaaS
By Joseph Flynn, CTO, Boomi Public Sector
December 14th, 2021

From parking permits to enrollment, students have new expectations—and those expectations center around a digital experience made possible with iPaaS

More than a year into the pandemic, most students are once again learning in-person. But they have new expectations when it comes to their academic institutions. Previously, students were accustomed to accessing necessary resources in locations dispersed across campus. Often this meant traveling to multiple buildings to accomplish tasks related to enrolling in courses, selecting majors, paying bills, purchasing parking permits, and more.

But after the past year, students have come to expect many of the tasks that previously required meeting in-person to now be accomplished online. Today’s students expect an instant, and effortless digital experience. A seamless platform that serves the varied needs of students, faculty and staff, where all necessary resources are available in a few clicks, is the new expectation – but it can be challenging to orchestrate. A modern IT infrastructure for the academic sector requires robust data integration, connectivity, and automation operating in the background.

To achieve this vision, colleges and universities should leverage Integration Platform as a Service (iPaaS) solutions as they continue to accelerate their digital transformation initiatives through a single, seamless, connected communication platform.

Simplifying students’ digital experience

Students access various platforms daily to track basics such as class registration, assignments, virtual classrooms, financial aid, and other resources that keep them afloat on campus. Navigating through disparate applications and systems that don’t communicate with each other, receiving conflicting information for the same request, or inputting the same personal information multiple times, is already a frustrating experience. 

Due to the pandemic, even more requirements and applications have been added to students’ plates as institutions work to create COVID-safe environments with symptom checkers, contact tracing, social-distancing schedules, and hybrid virtual/in-person learning environments.

The key to meeting these needs is simplicity and connectivity, which means integrating disconnected platforms for direct, real-time communication between applications. Academic institutions must break down their data silos, by connecting everyone to everything, anywhere, at any time, and on any device.

IT leaders can leverage integration platforms to improve student communication portals, help with tasks such as counseling and financial aid, and ensure information is made easily available regardless of the source.

One-door entry policies, such as single sign-on, can help facilitate this as they provide a single point of entry to many resources, which also improves the user experience.  Additionally, integrating the many different systems and applications used throughout colleges and universities can not only enrich student portals but also enable new, highly desired mobile services such as digital cafeteria checkouts and textbook purchases via smartphones. 

How iPaaS and intelligent connectivity can help 

Complexity of different IT systems is one of the most significant challenges universities face when technically integrating dispersed platforms into one connected platform.

iPaaS solutions offer simplicity by empowering even non-technical team members to create an accelerated, connected experience through a low-code/no-code approach. Institutions can move faster, become more efficient, and be more resilient as they provide the instant access students, faculty, and staff expect today.

A low code/no-code approach means integration and application development can be done without manual coding, enabling “citizen developers” (i.e., people in non-technical roles) to easily deploy and connect the applications they need, with minimal support from already overburdened IT teams. As digital infrastructure grows, and interconnectivity becomes more robust, low code/no code solutions will be increasingly important in order for organizations to be scalable and agile.

Leveraging an iPaaS is also a more efficient approach than traditional integration methods. With iPaaS, integrations can take as little as days or hours compared to weeks or months with a traditional approach. An iPaaS is also designed for flexibility. It can connect everything in a digital ecosystem, from on-premises to the cloud, to edge devices, with minimized disruption and reduced risk.

iPaaS solutions provide a better user experience by integrating disparate data sources for seamless, real-time communication between applications and systems, thus keeping students, personnel, and staff connected.

This connectivity also allows universities to gain meaningful insights from their data and analyze what’s working and what’s not, which can help further tailor modernization plans. As the integration process becomes simpler using iPaaS, IT employees can focus on higher-value tasks.

In today’s increasingly digital age, colleges and universities must deliver the type of frictionless and integrated experience students, faculty, and staff expect. To do this, they must integrate their numerous applications, platforms, and IT systems so students can focus on learning and preparing for their post-graduation future. As IT leaders in academic settings focus on improving user experience throughout all moving parts of the university, iPaaS offers the instant connectivity and automation necessary for a better student experience. 

About the Author:

Joseph Flynn is the CTO of Boomi Public Sector.

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