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Five Vendors to Watch that Support the Student Journey

by | Nov 10, 2020 | Technology Research

Nearly every institution spends significant time and resources making a good first impression on prospective students. As students progress through the enrollment cycle, savvy institutions take great care to make sure each interaction is positive. But once those prospective students enroll, far fewer schools spend the same amount of time or energy studying and improving their ongoing student interactions.

These interactions, called “touchpoints,” often involve the use of specific technologies or encounters with higher education leaders, such as advisors. These touchpoints vary depending on the type of student and have a significant impact on how students perceive the institution.

Identifying student touchpoints is a critical step to ensure that students are satisfied at every point of their higher education journeys. Here are five Student Journey products to watch.

Supporting the Student Journey

In a previous Wake-Up Call, we detailed how some institutions seeking to map and reshape their student experiences are leveraging a concept called student journey mapping. This involves identifying the different types of students that might need help to be successful at various stages.

For example, students with family financial support may not interact with an institution’s financial aid processing solution during admission, but may do so after enrollment if their circumstances change. Likewise, first-generation students may rely on their institutions’ advising solutions to help them choose a major. In contrast, other students may have their own support networks to help them decide their courses of study.

Unsurprisingly, the relationship between student types and touchpoints can become quite complicated. It involves an interplay between student types and technologies across different journey stages from admission to graduation.

While many solutions serve as touchpoints, the five we highlight here help institutions support the journeys of their students either through building communities of support (InScribe and PeopleGrove) or leveraging data to provide students with insight into how to manage their journeys (Discourse Analytics, Pragya Systems, and Salesforce).

Vendors to Watch

PeopleGrove

Founded in 2014, PeopleGrove developed its original product to help connect alumni and mentors with students. Since then, it has extended the concept of community building among students, mentors, and alumni to build communities across other areas of the student journey, such as enrollment, academic support, and career readiness. Specifically, its work to support admissions efforts at Santa Clara University and create a community between alumni and students at Barnard College indicates that PeopleGrove can support the entire student journey.

InScribe

Founded in 2017, InScribe seeks to enable institutions to develop a community-based pool of resources and answers to common questions for students to access. Relying on artificial intelligence to collect, analyze, and prioritize these resources and responses, InScribe helps students find what they need to address any concerns they may have, such as questions around financial aid or academic support. Used by Indiana University as part of its teaching and learning ecosystem and the University of Missouri System to increase student engagement, InScribe plays a significant role in helping institutions support either one part or all of the student journey.

Pragya Systems

With a name that means “wisdom or intelligence” in Sanskrit, Pragya Systems might be easily confused with an analytics vendor. Since its founding in 2012, however, it has offered a solution that seeks to provide end-to-end support for students as they navigate their journeys. In its work with Kenyon College, for example, Pragya leverages underlying solutions, such as Learning Management Systems (LMS), to empower students to get a fuller sense of how the choices along their journeys may impact their chances of success, and to make a more informed decision about their next steps.

Salesforce

Although more commonly known for its Constituent Relationship Management solution, Salesforce has launched its Advisor Link module—a product extension designed to support the student journey. Viewing the advisor as the primary human touchpoint for students along their journeys, Salesforce has created a solution that collects critical data for advisors to help their students. Used by institutions such as Georgia Tech and Indiana University, Advisor Link allows both students and advisors to gain a more in-depth view of challenges around onboarding, academics, financial aid, and career planning.

Discourse Analytics

Founded in 2010, Discourse Analytics seeks to support the student journey through the use of nudge theory, which argues that small interventions (like texts) could increase the likelihood that students may change behaviors that are causing them to struggle academically. Discourse Analytics’ Digital Counselor product consumes and analyzes data from other existing solutions, such as the LMS and Student Information System (SIS) to predict areas where students might struggle along their journeys and prescribe changes they can make to overcome their challenges.

Bottom Line

Each of the solutions profiled here takes a different approach to helping schools map or improve their student journeys. But no matter which solution you choose, the question of establishing effective student touchpoints is about more than just technology. There are additional steps institutions should perform first—such as creating student personas and outlining student stagesbefore focusing on the specific technologies that can help. Searching for a solution without first taking these initial steps can prevent institutions from understanding how they can better support all student journeys.

To see all products included in the Student Journey Mapping segment of our 2020 Higher Education Technology Landscape, click here.  

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James Wiley

Eduventures Principal Analyst at ACT | NRCCUA
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