Top tips for understanding the best ways of working with a Student Management System

Getting the most out of anything can be difficult, sometimes impossible. Consider some other things in life – a mobile phone or better still a new car.  You watch the TV advert of the car speeding along a traffic-free mountain road and imagine yourself at the wheel.  The car accelerates through the hairpins easily - no bus lanes, cyclists or potholes – just you, the road and the soundtrack from a Bond movie. 

In reality though, you’re late for the office, stuck on the dual carriageway trying to stay out of the bus lane, cyclists weaving in and out of your blind-spot to avoid the potholes. And it’s raining.

But what if it could be like the adverts?  You need to know how to get the best out of your car, how to tune it; the best grade fuel; and how each setting works and how this will improve your driving experience.  Add to this advice from an expert to hit the apex of the corner and show you the little used routes and shortcuts.  Throw in a membership to an owner’s club and practice out on those open roads you’re on your way to getting the most out of your new car.

So, let’s switch to Student Management Systems (SMS)– the principles of the car advert apply just the same.  The original purpose of a SMS was simple and pretty much limited to storing and tracking student information such as personal details, grades and attendance; managing processes such as clearing, enrolment and exam scheduling; and creating data for reporting  – all the while getting rid of that wretched, environment damaging mountain of paper [and the administrative personnel to ascend it daily].

This could (and would) only do for so long.  As the SMS rapidly took over, the breadth of its scope and the vision of users gathered pace.  Now we find ourselves at a crossroads of what the traditional SMS does (and should do) and what could be achieved in the future.  The traditional heartland of the SMS – the Registry, may be the engine room but other departments in our universities have woken up to the possibilities and what can be achieved if you get the best out of it.  Student Services teams are harnessing the power of learner analytics to target interventions to students at risk of failure and building queue-less hubs to make the annoying and often difficult parts of student life easier.   

Now marketing teams have joined the party for the insight it can give them for targeted campaigns; to make personalisation strategies; and to communicate with students on a truly one-to-one basis.  Talking to a prospective student about their academic and extra-curricular interests and making course, campus or even country recommendations; could mean the difference between gaining and losing a learner who has so much choice these days.  Let’s be honest, each student who flourishes at your institution has a financial as well as an intrinsic benefit to you.

Getting the most out of your Student Management System can mean cruising along those mountainous roads rather than sat in traffic.

Five TOP TIPS for getting the most out of your Student Management System:

1. Knowledge is power

Know what you want out of a system and how you want it to function.

2. Take advantage of the training available

Consult with the experts in each field of your chosen operations.

3. Speak to your peers

Join the user community. This is pretty much the golden rule. Systems are tried and tested by hundreds, if not thousands, of other institutions.

4. Test and re-test 

Make use of trial licencing and BETA testing with your supplier. Doing this can strengthen the relationship.

5. Have a vision 

Where do you want to be as an institution? Your SMS will be central to getting there.

Watch how University of St. Andrews has been using their Student Management System to help their students have the best experience possible:

 

Daniel Barrass

Daniel Barrass

Higher Education Marketing Business Partner, Tribal Group

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