Please tell us about the role of Ellucian in the education sector?
Ellucian enable institutions to help their students to succeed. We currently work with more than 70 higher education institutions across the Middle East. We provide these institutions with software and solutions that allow them to manage their day-to-day operations faster and more effectively.
Our solutions provide information insight to faculty, administrators and executive staff through tablets and mobile devices, as well as across campus networks. We help simplify the processes associated with managing students and providing students with mobile services around the clock.
As a result, institutions are empowered with the greater ability to navigate change, streamline their operations, support their learners and constituents, and to contribute to the economic empowerment of their graduates as well as enabling them to support the societies in which they live.
What trends do you see in the use of technology in the education sector?
Overwhelmingly we see cloud and mobile as the critical technologies impacting the education sector. Ellucian is leading the industry in the provision of cloud and mobile ready applications. The actual adoption of technology by higher education institutions in the region is driven by many factors. As a general rule we see rapid adoption of emerging technologies across the Gulf.
Countries like the UAE and Qatar have created national strategies that focus on human development and education, with the goal of developing a more educated and skilled workforce. Furthermore, upcoming regional events such as the Dubai Expo 2020 are opening up investment and job opportunities across different industries, which means students and professionals need quality training and skills to fit the job requirements needed.
Colleges and universities understand the need to keep up and support these developments, and they are turning to technology to help them streamline their operations and achieve their goals on more cost-effective platforms. Using the right technological tools and solutions can simplify tasks for admissions, registration, and curriculum management, and also enhance the student experience with e-learning and mobile solutions. The accountability in the sector to produce successful graduate and student outcomes is a new driver around technology adoption that we are seeing.
What more can be done to enhance the overall user experience for students in this part of the region?
For higher education institutions to serve students better, it is important for them to understand how social trends are affecting the way they consume content and want to learn, and update their solutions accordingly. Student lifestyles are becoming more fast-paced, and they are looking for flexibility in their learning experience, especially those whose circumstances and schedules do not fit into the traditional “in-class” structure.
It is important to utilise solutions that allow faculty and students to connect and collaborate outside of campus and give them all the tools available to succeed. The adoption of mobile apps help students connect with their institutions through their preferred methods and simplify everyday tasks.
Administrative tasks are part of a student’s learning experience and can’t be avoided. However, it is possible to make this process faster and easier for them by implementing systems that are easy to access and navigate. With Ellucian Mobile, for example, students can register for classes and make payments through a centralised portal, which acts as a one-stop-shop for all their daily tasks. This experience can be optimised by creating a mobile app that allows easier access on mobile devices.
The use of analytics can help to review student interactions and help to improve their experience by proving insights into course demand and student success rates. This allows the institution to analyze their academic departments, evaluate their standards, reallocate resources, and apply practices for overall improvement. Ellucian Perform is a solution that combines the use of analytics, the integration of the strategic planning process and clear communications to enable rapid collaboration around meeting institutional goals.
Finally, student advising is emerging as a vital new component of the student experience regionally. We are seeing our clients turn to solutions like Ellucian’s DegreeWorks to provide new added value services to students and to provide advisors with the tools they need to help student’s maximize their potential. Learning plans, degree plans and even learning contracts are a very tangible output that aligns the institutions promise to the student with an individualized plan for the student to follow.
How big is mobility and related devices in the regional education sector?
It is huge. The Middle East has one of the highest smart device adoption rates in the world. The population is becoming increasingly reliant on technology to fulfill their needs, whether for lifestyle, business, or learning. Most university students spend a majority of their time on their smart devices, not just for social media, but also for completing tasks on-the-go.
Creating an effective mobile platform that allows students to connect to their institute results in more accessibility regardless of the device. It also enables frequent interaction. Ellucian has developed a way of taking existing infrastructure and recreating it on a mobile platform. Based on our experience, we’ve seen how an institution’s mobile solutions are readily embraced by students.
Last year, we partnered with the UAE University (UAEU) to launch the Ellucian Mobile App in their institution. It allowed students access to university information, including their class schedules, grades, and courses. Additionally, it enabled them to perform administrative tasks and access learning materials. Within the first few days, more than 5,000 users installed the app, and it currently receives almost 1 million views per month.
In what areas of education are mobile devices and apps used?
Mobile devices are impacting all aspects of education. An effective mobile platform can encompass many functions. The growing functions of mobile apps, from administrative tasks to learning functions are making the learning experience more flexible and advanced. Students can receive notifications on university announcements and upcoming events; they can register for courses, check class schedules and grades, complete payments, and communicate with peers and faculty.
Higher education institutions can also strengthen their community interactions with the help of mobile solutions. Students, staff, and administrators are able to access and share information bilaterally with devices that they are familiar with. This encourages cross-communication and reaches out to users on a platform that they are most comfortable with. Universities need to invest solutions that foster growing community engagement and collaboration.
Ellucian Mobile can help institutions with proximity related services that allow campus service providers better target and support students with their services, and better align their security and transport services, for example, making sure students don’t have to wait outside in the heat of summer for a bus or making sure the right students are getting on the right buses for their specific accommodation or route home.
How can e-learning help in higher education?
E-learning programs and mobile apps foster increased interaction and allow faculty and students to connect and collaborate outside of campus. Every learner has his or her own needs, and e-learning offers a flexible learning experience, outside of the traditional classroom or lecture hall.
By creating a platform that makes information sharing and access to learning materials easier, institutions facilitate the learning process more efficiently. Ellucian solutions provide a robust integration with e-learning systems that is message based, allowing real-time interaction of data and supporting e-learning enablement in the institution by seamlessly linking core student services and learning management systems.
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