Higher education is a lot like any other industry in the sense that colleges want to bring "customers" in to their institution. They want to create brand awareness. They want to separate themselves from their competition. They want to show prospective students why their institution is the one they should choose.
In the past, the higher education "industry" was known as lagging behind other industries as far as the use of leading edge technology but no more. Today, colleges are looking toward the future and Web 2.0. More specifically, they are looking at social media. They are looking at social media marketing solutions that are tailored to help their specific institution exceed recruitment goals, increase donations and engage their physical communities through a robust, interactive experience online. They are looking into:
1) Creating a Virtual Community. They want to bring the many facets of their physical community together through an intuitive online network representing staff, students, prospective students, recruiters and community members. Connect instantly, facilitate relationships, coordinate events and effectively share information through this centralized online portal.
2) Encourage Recruitment. They want to provide state-of-the-art tools for recruiters to reach out to prospective students, track conversions and follow up with helpful information. Allow prospects to have a window into the real community by connecting and interacting with current students, staff and alums to complement their in-person experience.
3) Increase Endowments. They want to create a sophisticated forum for graduates to connect with their alma mater, provide recruitment opportunities for companies looking for prospective job candidates, and encourage ongoing relationships with the educational institution, increasing endowments and the percentage of employed graduates.
4) Leverage the Power of Social Media. They want to tap into highly trafficked social network tools and APIs to encourage regular use of the community as well as post information back to popular sites, such as Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, for increased viral exposure, effectively growing multiple communities through a single action.
5) Strengthen the Brand. They want to create a highly-trafficked community, seamlessly integrated with the major social networking sites, thereby strengthening the brand of their institution. By reaching students, prospective, alumnae and corporate contacts will not only facilitate connections and communications, but will shine a progressive light on the school and its physical community.
6) Stand Apart. While many higher education institutions are taking advantage of social media and social networking to engage and enhance their communities, many are not. In this digital age, it is imperative for colleges and universities to stay technologically on par with their student body and create tools that students, staff and alums will soon come to expect as the industry standard.
So how can we as software developers help higher education achieve their goals? Well, if higher education is the market space you like developing in then it is imperative you stay current on the newest technologies. Education is a very competitive space with colleges and universities vying for any qualified student. Prospective students are very tech savvy and to effectivly help your client or in this case, the college, you need to always come up with new and creative ways to reach these prospective students and in a style they are used to. This could be through social media techniques, mobile apps or any other create manner.
As a developer that worked in the higher education space, I can assure you that education is like any other industry in the fact that to be successful, you need to understand their concerns. If you look at the list above, you can see how those goals could be applied to any business. They are measurable.
You can find this article at : Software Development In Higher Education