Advisors Respond to Technology

If we are going to succeed in improving the rates of student success, a crucial role will be played by enhanced advisement. But professional advisors, to the degree that they are employed full-time, may have an individual case load of hundreds of students. Technology can help, with programs using data analytics, allowing advisors to go right to the source of the right information to help each student individually.

Please have a look at this article by Ana Borray and Nancy Millichap, in EdSurge. The piece lists the most popular products that are now available and in use by colleges and universities around the country.

The authors report that shifting to tech-based advising requires a great deal of professional development, and some employees are more likely to embrace the new tools than others. No surprise there.

Notwithstanding some apples-to-oranges problems, at some point we should be able to make some valid comparisons. We will want to know which packages work best to improve rates of student success. We should also be able to find out if old-fashioned flesh-and-blood advising should be maintained as well. Cost is obviously a key factor, but if we get too robotic in relating to students, it may prevent the personal engagement on campus we all seek.

Faculty members are often used for advisement, but they may not have much expertise outside their disciplines. If and how instructors are compensated can also become a sore point.

If today’s young people as a group excel at anything it’s communicating through social media. This tool may be our best hope in practical terms to reach students systematically. But we will have to stay current, since new products and platforms can get popular quickly. Facebook long ago become unfashionable with many young people, for instance.