Mobile technology has fundamentally changed how students engage with their institutions and with each other. Today’s students are a mobile-first generation who see their smartphones as the primary means of interaction with friends, family and institutions. The campus wall on your campus app is a powerful resource for students to participate in these interactions.
Two of the largest hurdles that students face when arriving on campus are information discovery and social connections. Put simply, new students are unfamiliar with the campus and don’t know where certain resources and services are available. They are also looking to build a social circle by meeting fellow students and making new friends. The campus wall provides students with a resource to tackle both of these challenges. According to our annual student survey, 80% of students reported that the campus wall made them feel like they belong to the university community and 91% were confident that their school-related question would be answered on the wall. This real-time link to their institution allows students to ask questions and inquire about the campus at any time of the day, learn about what activities are taking place at any moment, meet fellow students and make social connections. These resources are even more valuable during orientation, when students need access to information the most. A surge in campus wall activity is observed during this time with approximately 75% of activity taking place in the months of August, September and October 2017.
This period of time also determines the ‘personality’ of the campus wall. Students will often respond to certain types of post on the campus wall with an answer, or they will post something similar. The personality is determined by students and is driven by the type of interactions that they are having on the campus wall. This year, we observed three very different types of campus personalities:
At some institutions, such as Youngstown State University, students are using the campus wall for social engagement by asking, for example, if other students are taking the same courses or have the same interests. These campuses often see a much higher degree of friend-connections and private messaging on their apps.
Other institutions, such as San Jose State University, see students asking questions and gathering information. These conversations focus on where campus resources are located, when campus resources are available, which courses should they take, which events to attend, etc. These campuses often see a higher degree of campus guide engagement as students search for information on the app.
This year we also observed a third type of campus wall activity: one that was determined by unique circumstances and features both information gathering and social connections. The campus wall at the University of New Orleans featured posts on Hurricane Harvey and the solar eclipse, two events that took place during their Orientation. Students used the campus wall to meet up to watch the eclipse or to find out about class cancellations during the hurricane. This third type shows us how students can determine the conversations on campus and how the campus wall can be a great means to measure the "pulse" of the campus.
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