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Most students starting college in the Fall of 2022 were Gen Zers born in 2004. The college experience is a lot different for Gen Z than it was for Boomers and Gen X, especially when it comes to communications. Asynchronous options like office hours and snail mail are out, and real-time digital channels are in.

Learning what students expect and prefer when it comes to higher education communication is crucial for any institution that wants to engage with its student body. In order to reach today’s students, colleges and universities need to focus on real-time communications.

Consider the following:

  • Students prefer immediate answers and solutions, so they avoid exchanging emails
  • Students prefer texting because it gets their attention — and responses — in real time. Why call when a text will do?
  • Real-time video is also appealing to this “live streaming” generation

Email Isn’t Effective for Connecting with Students

For those who live in our inboxes, it’s hard to imagine that more than half (54 percent) of students surveyed by EAB skip emails from their university or academic departments, and 39 percent usually don’t open emails from their advisers. These emails contain important information and reminders to help students through their academic careers, so how can colleges reach students more effectively?

Business texting for institutions. Texting enables educational institutions to reach students where they are: on their phones. Unlike email, texting provides real-time, personalized attention, which students are more likely to respond to. A business texting solution like Bubble from Broadvoice offers many advantages, such as:

  • The ability to broadcast texts, which replaces bulk emails
  • Two-way texting between students and contact center representatives
  • Automatic text routing to ensure inbound texts reach the right person
  • Integrates with business phone systems like Broadvoice b-hive to keep communications channels unified and cohesive

Business texting for individuals. Using SMS platforms to communicate with students isn’t just for school administrators — faculty and staff can leverage texting to improve their interactions with students. A business communications solution like Broadvoice b-hive allows employees to:

  • Engage in one-on-one or small-group conversations on their business numbers instead of their personal numbers
  • Receive external texts on a desktop or mobile app, so they never miss a message
  • Centralize all communications on one platform instead of using various professional/personal accounts

Visual Communications Can Bridge Gaps with Students

Generations that grew up with social media are accustomed to all types of visual communication, including real-time streaming videos like those on YouTube Live and Instagram Live. While being on camera is second nature for Gen Z, the same can’t be said for older generations; many Boomers and GenXers received a crash course in video conferencing because of the pandemic. The lockdowns forced employees to work from home, turning on their webcams and cameras to facilitate collaboration, conversation, and camaraderie with their coworkers. Whether we like it or not, it’s the next best thing to being there, and in some situations, it may even be better.

Distance learning. Video conferencing platforms allow for virtual classrooms, so students can learn from wherever they are as long as there’s an internet connection. While remote study isn’t new, video capabilities take it to the next level, allowing things like:

  • Lectures and presentations from professors (not just assigned reading and independent study)
  • Real-time interactions with the instructor, including the opportunity to ask questions and receive answers
  • Live discussions and debates among students
  • Virtual study groups
  • Video and web collaboration among students for group projects
  • Guest lectures from subject experts around the world
  • Students can join from wherever they are, including other countries
  • Recording for absent students and studying or taking notes

Video conferencing. Outside the virtual classroom, video conferencing also plays a role in facilitating communications with students. Here are a few examples:

  • Faculty and staff can use private meeting rooms to host video meetings with individual students or small groups.
  • Faculty and staff can leverage external screen sharing to enhance video calls and web meetings.
  • Faculty and staff can initiate external video conferences using the same app they use for all other communications.
  • Video call recording provides a record for notation and historical purposes if there is a question or dispute about a student interaction.

The Teacher Becomes the Student

Colleges and universities may set the curriculum, but they have a lot to learn from their students. Understanding how students prefer to interact is crucial to successful higher education communication. By focusing on real-time communications that prioritize text and video, institutions can increase the effectiveness of staff-student interactions — and improve the overall campus experience.

Contact us to learn more about how to improve student and faculty interactions with the Broadvoice b-hive all-in-one communications platform.

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