As long as they’ve existed around the world, colleges and universities have served not only as places of learning and innovation, but also as an experiment in building a community.
Of course, many of these schools have expansive, well-groomed campuses that bring together students from diverse backgrounds to create a literal community that operates as a microcosm of society at large. But now more than ever, that sense of community extends far beyond the physical confines of the campus and can flourish in the right online environments.
To protect students’ privacy, maintain academic standards, and protect the institution’s values, many schools have embraced private online communities that provide the tools and resources students, staff, and parents expect from a modern higher learning center.
Here’s why universities and colleges need their own online community:
- Students are more online than ever.
At the onset of the pandemic, students had to adjust to distance learning, often completing course work in a fully online setting. In many cases, schools sent students off campus altogether, meaning there was no other option—–and not all schools were ready to face this challenge.
But even before the pandemic, online courses were already on the rise, with 51.8 percent of students taking at least one class virtually, according to a recently released study. Now, that number is increasing even after in-person learning has returned, as the effectiveness of online classes was proven during the pandemic.
Going forward, schools will need a robust community to support this shift.
- Your web presence is your most significant recruiting tool.
When attracting the best and brightest, an institution’s web presence isn’t just the first impression made upon a prospective student—it’s the most important impression. In a recent study by Uniquest, more than half of college students surveyed said that their university’s website was the only channel from which they gleaned information about the school before applying.
A private online community allows a place for prospective students to dive deeper into specifics your website alone cannot provide. Prospective students and their parents can interact with others in forums, read blogs from professors, and gain a more nuanced understanding of the university and its unique culture.
- A better student experience.
A private online community dedicated to students and faculty can be useful for sharing information that doesn’t necessarily need to be posted on social media for the public to view and can help provide a better experience for the student and instructors.
- Discussions between students and teachers in an open forum
- A calendar of events for activities happening on campus or for a specific class
- Lecture notes from current or previous classes
- The ability to browse through class or faculty members’ profiles.
- More focused alumni engagement.
Alumni typically represent some of the largest financial donations to colleges and universities. A social community can provide a place where alumni can ask questions, provide feedback, and connect with other alumni in a safe, controlled space. A private community can also create opportunities for colleges/universities to gain more insight about alumni and potentially use that insight to populate their CRM system with better data.
- Membership has its privileges.
When a student attends a college/university, there are certain privileges they have access to. Similarly, a closed online community that is exclusive to only students and/or faculty provides interactions that aren’t available (or aren’t possible) on large public social networks. These interactions are invaluable to students and create another avenue through which the institution can better enable student success.
There are many other benefits for colleges and universities to reap from a private online community. We invite you to learn more about Verint Community today.