A Recipe for Success: Edtech & Academic Advising

Technology can give holistic and granular insights into performance. But how can that impact academic advising for student success?

Student success can be a complicated metric to measure. In some cases, student success can hinge on accessibility — not just to help from professors, but to course materials and even the classes they need to take to graduate. In other cases, financial difficulties can lead to a drop in student persistence and overall retention rates.

Academic advisors are tasked with intervening and providing students with much-needed resources, but it can be more difficult if there isn’t enough information. Early intervention can significantly help neurodiverse students and ensure their overall success.

Technology can help bridge the gap between academic advisors and students, ensuring that students are equipped with the tools and resources to succeed, regardless of their study habits.

How Can Academic Advisors Be Proactive With Students?

Proactive advising and early intervention for students can help eliminate roadblocks before they become complete barriers to graduation. With a proactive approach, advisors can help students identify and solve potential problems in their academics before it impacts their chances of success. This approach also focuses on student retention and completion.

There are a few key components to being proactive with advising:

  • Strategic outreach to the student
  • Creating holistic roadmaps or plans for a timely graduation
  • Anticipating concerns that might impact the student’s success

Technology and learning platforms can certainly help in this approach to advising — especially with distance learning programs. For example, it can be difficult for some adult learners to make time for one-on-one, in-person meetings, so using video conferencing tools can solve this issue.

Besides scheduling, technology focused on learning enablement can provide advisors with the data they need to identify potential hurdles to a student’s academic success. These platforms allow advisors to intervene earlier and actively involve students in the advising process, connecting them with resources promptly. By identifying trends with data, advisors can be more proactive in their advising structure with their students and address concerns earlier on.

Advisors can monitor a student's progress more efficiently with real-time data.

Edtech Provides Clear Data for Early Intervention

Educational technology (“edtech”) introduces more digital-forward solutions and strategies to higher education. But when it comes to academic advising, one-on-one time is still effective. Advisors help students set goals, chart their academic journey, and even their career plans after graduation. However, if students are falling behind, advisors can play a crucial role in getting students back on track.

Edtech platforms can offer data and insights into how students study — or if they aren’t at all. Digital-first platforms can display usage statistics, showing advisors how and when students study. And if the platform uses interactive courseware, advisors can also take advantage of performance data and intervene early — and crucially, before major exams or evaluations.

Some students may be hesitant to approach their advisor about a course they’re struggling in, or their professor may not be available as a resource. These students may be especially at risk of dropping courses in these cases.

At BibliU, we found that students wanted validation without having to approach an outside resource for help. But when armed with the correct data, advisors can proactively intervene and assure students they’re on the right track or help them get back to it while providing a kind of “safety net” and peace of mind.

Students want validation and direction in class, while underrepresented students benefit from psychological safety.

Digital-First Platforms Can Help Underrepresented Students

Whether purely online or face-to-face, higher education can present some students with financial challenges. Besides tuition, students also need to purchase textbooks and other materials for class. This can be a heavy burden on some students and influence their decisions on what courses to take.

Students may delay graduation or leave school altogether in more severe scenarios due to the cumulative cost. Digital textbooks and digital content platforms provide a cost-friendly solution for course materials, so students don’t risk going without.

But digital-first platforms don’t just provide students with low-cost course materials. They also offer an intuitive solution for students who may have more active or busy lives outside of daily academic courses.

Studying from any device — a laptop, tablet, or even a mobile device — levels the playing field for these students. This translates to greater student success and allows advisors to guide their advisees and help them achieve their goals proactively.

Interactivity Boosts Student Engagement

Courseware and learning enablement platforms also provide a level of interactivity that traditional physical textbooks simply can’t offer. Interactive discussion boards and in-book quizzes can provide advisors and academics with insights into how well students understand the material.

Cohort- and individual-level data can also help advisors track how often students interact with content, which can help illustrate study habits and engagement. Reading time and usage statistics can play a vital role in helping advisors understand how students study and when intervention is necessary.

This interactivity can also help foster higher rates of student engagement with content. When students can ask each other questions in interactive forums or discussion boards, they don’t need to wait for class to ask a question or struggle in silence. When asked, we found students preferred finding other students for help when they were stuck on a particular concept in their reading material.

According to a student survey, students preferred to stop reading material entirely and wait for their next class if they didn't understand a concept.

Bringing It All Together: Technology, Engagement, and Academic Advisors

Academic advising is a broad term encompassing guidance, intervention, and much more for students. Academic advisors play a pivotal role in students' academic development and overall success and can be essential mentors for their advisees.

Having information and data readily available can help advisors proactively intervene if a student is struggling, particularly for neurodiverse students who may be hesitant to reach out. Interactive learning enablement platforms can also help students better engage with course material, which can influence academic success and positively impact student retention.

BibliU is a Learning Enablement platform that brings together data, analytics, and technology to help students learn more effectively. With millions of e-textbooks titles, monographs, OER, and courseware available, institutions can positively affect change at every level.

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