3 Ways Colleges Are Reimagining Virtual Student Services
3 Ways Colleges Are Reimagining Virtual Student Services
Tracy Gorham
Tracy Gorham
Student Success

3 Ways Colleges Are Reimagining Virtual Student Services

As U.S. colleges and universities explore their options for reopening in fall 2020, more than 65% are now planning for in-person instruction. But as they prepare to welcome students back, they’re also developing contingency plans for fully virtual campuses.

While most schools have the infrastructure to manage and deliver online learning (an LMS, SIS, and distance education program), fewer have an enterprise platform for virtual student services.

Whether your school opens for in-person classes next fall or goes 100% virtual, every institution needs technology and workflows designed to increase access to all student support services—from admissions to career services and every touch point in between. Here’s how three colleges are using ConexED to connect with students online as part of their long-term strategies to improve student engagement, persistence, retention, and completion.

1. University of Utah

Public research university in Salt Lake City, Utah with 32,000+ students

In 2016 the University of Utah formed the Integrated Student Team to better unify the student support experience. A key part of their plan was to help students easily find and connect with academic advisors and other student support staff across the institution.

With director-level members from IT, student services, and academic affairs, the team focused on ConexED to enable online appointment scheduling, virtual meetings, instant messaging, and related reporting.

ConexED Cards: Helping Students Connect

When students log in to the university’s instance of ConexED, they see a directory showing ConexED cards for hundreds of academic and student support staff. There, they can search for a department or service unit and browse staff in that area. Outside the directory, advisors and instructors can embed their ConexED cards on any departmental webpage or online course. They can also customize their cards, giving students options to connect such as:

  • Knock on Door. If an advisor or instructor is online, a student can virtually “knock on their door.” The staff member can then start an online chat or virtual meeting right from their ConexED card. Or, they can ask the student to self-schedule a meeting for another time.
  • Online Chat. With the instant messaging feature, sessions can be recorded with reason codes for reporting, and chats can be delegated to other staff or faculty for follow up.
  • Schedule Meeting. Students can click to see open time slots and self-schedule on-campus or virtual meetings. The system integrates and syncs instantly with staff calendars. Once a meeting is scheduled, students get an automated email reminder with details about how or where to connect.
  • Send Offline Message. When staff members aren’t online, students can click to send them an offline message, which goes to their email inbox.
  • Register for Workshop. The registration feature allows students to reserve a seat for online or on-campus events. Advisors or instructors can host webinars or online information sessions in ConexED for up to 100 people.

According to Cory Stokes, Digital Learning Officer & Associate Dean of Online & Continuing Education, “A university is a big place and finding the right person to talk to can be really difficult. Knowing how to contact them is the second problem.” With ConexED, U. of U. students can easily find the help they need and get online support from departments across campus.

2. Purdue University Global

Public online university in Indianapolis, Indiana with 31,000+ students

As part of the Purdue University system, Purdue Global offers more than 175 fully online degree programs geared toward working adults. In addition to online instruction, the university provides online academic and student support services with a human touch.

Through the university’s Academic Success Center, students can log in to see ConexED cards for business, math, science, technology, or writing tutors. Cards show which tutors are online, and students can virtually “knock on their door” to connect. Here’s what students see next:

  • Informed Consent Statement. A pop up asks students if they consent to having their online tutoring session recorded. (Only the tutor and student will have access to the recording.)
  • Chat Box. When students consent, a chat box opens, inviting them to join a virtual meeting or wait in a virtual lobby until the tutor is ready.
  • Virtual Lobby. From here, any available tutor can move waiting students into a meeting.
  • Virtual Meeting. When students join, they can choose to share their video and/or microphone for video conferencing or simply use the chat feature within the interface.
ConexED Virtual Meetings: Ensuring ADA, FERPA, & HIPAA Compliance

Unlike free video conferencing apps, the ConexED platform is secure, private, and compatible with major screen and text-to-speech readers. It also provides automatic closed captioning that can be edited in real time for accuracy and referenced by students later in the meeting archive.

To make virtual tutoring sessions more interactive, Purdue tutors use built-in ConexED tools like the shared whiteboard and document library, where they can review student work and collaborate in real time on a paper or project. This enables the university to provide the flexibility students need to achieve their career goals, while also providing the support they need for academic success.

3. MiraCosta College

Community college in Oceanside, California with 14,000+ students

MiraCosta College boasts four beautiful campuses in North San Diego County. They also offer more than 600 hybrid and online classes, with over half their students typically enrolling in distance education programs.

As one of 80 California Community Colleges now using ConexED, MiraCosta relies on the platform to increase support for students on and off campus. From the college’s Counseling Center page, students can connect for an Online Express Chat with these features:

  • Contact Cards and Instant Messaging. ConexED cards in the directory show which counselors are online, and enable students to send an instant message.
  • Online Scheduling and Virtual Meetings. If students have more than a quick question, counselors direct them to schedule a virtual meeting in ConexED.
  • Offline Messages. If no counselors are online (or after business hours), students can choose to send an offline message or self-schedule an appointment at their convenience.
ConexED Integrations: Connecting Canvas and Other Campus Systems

With a multi-dimensional API, ConexED seamlessly integrates with most major student information and learning management systems to accurately push/pull data in real time. Calendar integrations include Google, Microsoft Office 365, Outlook, and Exchange—all synced instantly.

Leveraging the ConexED integration with the Canvas LMS, MiraCosta College includes a link to student support services in the Global Navigation Menu of every course, making it easy for students to reach out for online advising and counseling. These institutions (and many others) are using ConexED not only to increase access to student support services online, but also to streamline and integrate services across campus. And, because ConexED combines the functionality of a scheduling and reporting system, instant messaging and chat service, queuing system, and video conferencing software, it saves money as well as time.

Learn more about our interactive tools for virtual student services

Request a demo to see how ConexEd can help your school deliver high-quality student services online (for admissions, financial aid, academic advising, tutoring, library services, mental health counseling, career services, and more).

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