HE top tips from our experts: improving student experience and optimising service delivery with Cloud

Our Jisc Cloud Solutions consultants, Lyn Rees and Paul Ross, have gathered their top recommendations for Higher Education institutions that want to make the best out of student experience and shape a more effective service delivery by using Cloud technologies.

Improving Student Experience

The digital landscape is continually offering new technologies to improve our lives, and that is no different in the HE student arena. The students themselves are becoming more and more demanding in regards to universities’ digital capabilities and services as they themselves are becoming ever more connected.

  • The ever-evolving expectations of digitally native students – from mobility to high resolution streaming content, means that public cloud services are well positioned to serve their needs.
  • When it comes to security, students have high expectations of their institutions. Capable anti-phishing protection is increasingly expected, particularly among more vulnerable students such as those where English is not their first language.
  • Student demand for ubiquitous digital services is on the rise, with an expectation of 24 by 7 access on the go from their mobile devices – demands easily met by cloud solutions.  They value unified calendaring and timetabling capabilities and one-stop access via mobile apps.
  • Whilst the students of today may be considered digitally native, there is still a great deal of value in providing training and guidance to enable them to make the most of digital tools and services, fostering efficient, safe and collaborative practices.
  • Paper driven processes belong in the last century!
  • There’s an ever-greater demand for lecture capture and blended learning capabilities from students across the sector. Cloud SaaS based offerings have lowered the barriers of entry to these platforms, enabling institutions to quickly establish cost-effective services which can scale with demand.

Optimising Service Delivery

HE leaders working in the digital space are not only looking outward in terms of student experience, but also inward, especially on how they can make internal processes faster and more seamless. From culture change to lowering costs, here’s our thoughts on how you can tackle some of your institution’s digitisation challenges.

Know Your Cloud Environment

  • Track return on investment by incorporating feedback loops to measure the success of new applications and services as they are consumed by users
  • Commit to this approach and incorporate it into your business case.
  • Leverage the capabilities that cloud technology offers to analyse operational metrics and visualise your services through dashboards and rich periodic reporting.
  • Make data-driven decisions to optimise your cloud infrastructure and services

Improving Productivity

  • As your team’s experience and confidence of managing cloud technology grows, consider leveraging automation to make deployments more robust, speed up new projects, and reduce the chance of human error by reducing repetitive manual tasks.
  • Embrace commodity cloud services where possible and focus resources where they can deliver the most value.
  • Make the most of the software, systems and licencing you already own e.g. Office 365 or Google G Suite.

Culture

  • Is cloud fully understood in terms of the use cases, productivity and digital innovations? Make time for experimentation and learning and ensure investment in staff skills.
  • Develop a culture that recognises cloud as the primary vehicle for building digital capabilities.  However, this approach needs to be pragmatic; it must be based in reality and acknowledge the realities of the existing environment.
  • Everybody wants to be more agile; but not every organisation can operate like a cloud-first lean start-up.  If you’re not developing apps and services from the ground up, you can still adopt agile approaches – take a ‘fail fast’ approach by measuring user feedback and always look to deliver incremental and valuable gains.

Lowering Costs

  • Only build where you are confident you can deliver return on investment.  Careful thought is required here; you don’t want to start building up technical debt.
  • Design for the cloud, instead of ‘lift n shift’.  If you are doing the latter, make sure you’re aware of the risks and come up with a plan to optimise.
  • Public cloud gives smaller colleges and institutions an upper hand when resourcing or budgets are limited.

You can find more of these recommendations and insights on our ‘Digital leadership in HE’ report we published with ucisa earlier this year. If you are interested in learning more about new technologies for improving student experience and making your business operations more effective, watch our webinar ‘What will the campus of the future look like?’.

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