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04/30/18

Engaging Digitally Native Students with Contextual and Immersive Experience powered by Insights

How to take students on a journey that is personalized, interactive, engaging and rewarding – using digital technologies that are helping education institutions deliver better outcomes and retain students

Today’s digitally native students expect personalized learning delivered in an interactive and collaborative way. Many education institutions have started investing in new age digital technologies and analytics programs to deliver personalization. An entirely new world of learning, driven by new technology, is on the way.

In the four-part blog series on digital transformation of education institutions, this is the 2nd blog – and it deals with engaging student with personalized experiences (the first blog dealt with areas of technology are making inroads into education sector).

Traditional education institution are facing tough competition from convenient and course-rich online learning platforms and online education start-ups like Khan Academy. This is putting educational institutions under pressure to create new levels of Student Experience. . The best way for educational institutions to elevate the student journey is by understanding it well – the journey from selecting a college, onboarding, attending courses and taking assessments/exams and in that journey how they interact using different channels and devices, their behaviors, needs and requirements. By doing so they can identify the engagement and experience expectation and gaps and how technology can help deliver personalization and contextualization for better student engagement and retention.

In the application process, Students are normally expected to provide a list of their interests, activities and previous achievements. Now imagine if the application systems were connected to the library system. How would the library use information regarding a student’s interest in travel, languages, cartography, sport, etc., to deliver a better experience? Improving student experience can begin with the simple act of integrating systems that have, so far, remained siloed.

While the definitions and understanding of the term “student experience” vary widely, they reflect one common philosophy: To meet student expectations, ensuring that data, predictive analytics and other such technologies drive services (inquiries, advice, content, tutoring, financial aid, etc.) to aid intake, retention and success rates.

It is also becoming essential to go beyond mere integration of systems to achieve better student experience. One of the key approaches is to leverage experiential and immersive technologies such as Augmented Reality (AR), Virtual Reality (VR) and Mixed Reality (MR) in a bid to meet the expectations of a generation raised on digital. For example, what if you could take your prospective student on a tour of your campus, or help them spend time in community spaces, and even attend a class or two, all from the comfort of their homes using AR and VR? One US-based university that implemented such a tour, giving students a glimpse of the opportunities on campus that could add to classroom learning and also use almost-real inputs to drive their choice of college, saw 30,000 people take the tour of which 4,000 gave their details to the university, scheduled a campus visit or applied for admission[i].

Technology and data are rapidly re-shaping student experience on campus. The growth in mobile devices, the Internet of Things, cloud infrastructure, the availability of VR and AR hardware and analytical engines and algorithms are placing new power into the hands of institutions to better engage students. Here are five ways for educational institutions to engage students using new age technologies:

1.Adaptive Learning with Machine Learning (ML):

The challenge for educators has always been to provide one-on-one learning at scale to meet the needs of individual students who come from different educational systems and with differing speeds of learning. Integrating ML into educational processes helps achieve this elusive goal. ML can be used to provide insights into the learning patterns of individual students - student’s strengths, weaknesses, interest levels and engagement patterns to re-shape content for a truly learner-centric experience. It can then be used adapt course material/ lectures for each individual student and prepare highly effective personalized learning plans.

2. Personalized Engagement with Intelligent tutoring systems (ITS):

The goal of ITS is to provide guidance to students with regard to information to be learnt, assign related learning tasks, provide in depth knowledge on the topic, engage students in discussions and reasoning sessions, provide feedback and assist them in improving their performance. ITS typically uses AI to understand a student’s psychological state and combines it with prior study material provided to the student. As a student interacts with the system, it evolves. With every new interaction it is better able to identify areas that could be frustrating for a student and areas where the student will succeed, thereby creating appropriate interventions.

3. Interactive Experience using AI-powered bots:

A recent US-based survey found that text book costs were forcing higher education students to compromise their success by not purchasing the books, delaying the purchase or opting for fewer courses[ii]. This is giving rise to the cost-effective practice of renting e-books. The e-books, accessible on smart phones or mobile devices, can be improved by adding pop up quizzes and other supplementary learning material. The quizzes and contextual information can be provided by AI-powered bots that record student responses, combine it with historical response data from the larger student community, and intelligently adjust information/quiz levels accordingly.

4. Immersive Learning using Virtual Reality (VR) and Gamification:

Gamification, that integrates personal and social environments to create competitive and immersive learning, is gaining a strong foothold in higher education. By leveraging the popular techniques of gaming culture, such as different levels of learning ranging from basic to sophisticated, setting challenges, creating leaderboards and providing badges and rewards (say, extra credits in class), students are motivated to learn, they are encouraged to experiment, and the community driven experience can be fun for the student. One Australian university has progressed its gaming concepts to elevate students into becoming question makers instead of question takers—such can be the power of gamification.[iii]

5. Virtual and Collaborative Learning with Telepresence robot:

Tele-robotics is making it possible for higher education institutions to extend their reach in real time to practically any geography. The technology is becoming popular across industries, from medicine to event management, and is now widely available in simpler form on smartphones and desktops as teleconferencing. Telepresence robots provide streaming video and multimedia content, straight from the classroom to multiple sites, wherever students may be, encouraging rich and collaborative learning. The technology is especially useful in ensuring students who cannot attend class – due to an illness or relocation, etc., – do not fall behind.

These are cutting edge technologies that educational institutions can leverage to immediately gain the attention of students and ensure they help improve academic performance while reducing the tedium of learning.

Are there other technologies that you believe would help better engage students? We are keen to hear from you and see what you think. Meanwhile, don’t miss the next blog in this four part series which will be on technology to help educators deliver better results.

Read related blog on ClassTech—linking classrooms to virtually any place in the cosmos

Learn more about the solutions and platforms that accelerate the digital journey of education clients.

This blog is co-authored by -

Amit Derkar, Senior Consultant, Digital, Mindtree

Amit is a Senior Consultant with Mindtree’ s Digital Business with 11 years of experience in CIO research and advisory including eight year stint with Gartner. He leads the digital offerings team and sell-by-play program within the Digital service line. He specializes in developing insight-based messaging backed by customer-specific research to create high-value propositions for faster sales conversions.

Sriram Jayaraman, Head Digital solutions and consulting, Mindtree

Sriram comes with over 20 years of experience in designing solutions at the nexus of devices, social, mobile, analytics and cloud technology to transforms the way organizations deliver customer experience. Prior to Mindtree, His experience focuses on designing technology solutions that are aligned to create a compelling customer experience especially for education, technology, retail, travel, e-commerce, BFSI, betting and gaming industries around the world. Sriram is a frequent speaker at tech forums such as TechEd, Ignite, Microsoft user groups and ASUG.

Shriharsha Imrapur, Global Head of Media and Education, Mindtree

Shriharsha is helping some of the world’s premier education institutions in their transformation towards the digital future. He lives at the intersection of business and technology and speaks at industry and client forums on topics such as digital constituent experience propelled by data and cloud. He heads Mindtree’s Media and Education business globally and is based out of London.


[i] https://www.universitybusiness.com/article/virtual-reality-real-rewards-higher-ed
[ii] https://florida.theorangegrove.org/og/file/3a65c507-2510-42d7-814c-ffdefd394b6c/1/2016%20Student%20Textbook%20Survey.pdf
[iii] https://www.heacademy.ac.uk/knowledge-hub/gamification-and-games-based-learning
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