5 minute read

5 High Tech Solutions that Enable High Touch Campus Experiences

2/14/2023 8:00 PM

It’s no great revelation that today’s students are digital natives and view technology as an intrinsic part of how they navigate the world. However, despite their preference for using digital technology to complete day-to-day tasks, they crave interpersonal connections and relationship building.

Balancing the use of technology with human interactions is a concept known as High Tech, High Touch, and was first introduced in 1982 by futurist and author John Naisbitt in his book, Megatrends: Ten New Directions Transforming Our Lives. In the context of the early 1980s, Naisbitt discussed the impact that the personal computer would have on the office environment, and how the more technology people had access to the more they would look for ways to come together in person.

"We must learn to balance the material wonders of technology with the spiritual demands of our human nature." – John Naisbitt 

Forty years later, this concept has never been more relevant. With the digital revolution of the internet and social media available in the palm of their hand, students are bombarded with technology that demands their attention. And yet, despite their proclivity for a High Tech experience in school and work, Gen Z remains High Touch.

Researcher and author Hana Ben-Shabat discusses this in her book, Gen Z 360. While considering future employers, Gen Z prefers face-to-face communication in the interview process, with peers, and more. And while this portion of the book focuses on the work environment, there is no reason to believe that this doesn’t translate to every aspect of a young adult’s life including their experience with higher education.

Ways to Balance High Tech, High Touch in Higher Education

You’ll often hear us espouse the benefits of sophisticated technology solutions – and you still will. Technology has the power to transform how we live and how we do business. But we cannot forget or ignore the need to balance technology and human interaction. In the following section, we’ve outlined specific examples of High Tech solutions that enable higher ed administrators to deliver High Touch experiences to students.

One Stop Shop for Student Services: Modern solutions unify student information systems with payment and engagement technologies to provide comprehensive views of the student. Staff can see a complete picture of the student from an administrative perspective, which helps transform staff from playing a transactional role (taking payments, providing information) to a consultative role in which they can provide students with more personalized support for navigating their campus experience without being shuffled between multiple offices.

Read: Learn how Purdue University has moved beyond a One-Stop Shop to a ‘No Stop’ experience for students.

Chatbots: Universities and colleges are increasingly employing chatbots to help students find answers to frequently asked questions about their accounts. With sophisticated automation, chatbots can reduce the number of inbound calls and emails to business offices dramatically. This opens up staff to spend more dedicated time with students who need in-depth assistance.

Listen: Learn how the University of Alabama implemented an AI-powered chatbot.

Digital Photo Uploads for Campus Cards: Today’s campus apps can include functionality for students to submit their official student ID photos to be used on either a printed physical card or for digital versions of their campus ID. It’s quick, easy and integrated with ID management systems. It’s a high tech experience that alleviates long photo lines and allows students to approve their ID photo. Plus, it greatly reduces the amount of staff time required to host photo events at the start of each new term and printed cards can be mailed to students in advance of arriving on campus, freeing up resources to spend more specialized time with students.

Listen: Learn how the University of Louisiana at Lafayette improved campus card operations.

Library Services: An increasing number of automated and self-service solutions have hit the market to help manage library resources such as checking out books and devices. These solutions help reduce the amount of time that library staff spends at the checkout desk and instead allows librarians to spend more time working with students who need more individualized attention.

Browse: TouchNet Partners offering Library Solutions.

Campus ID in Mobile Wallets: Mobile campus IDs have been all the buzz for the past few years and for good reason. The evolution of campus IDs to now include digital versions that can be added to mobile wallets has been a game changer for the student experience as well as staff operations and campus security. Mobile IDs provide the high tech experience that students are used to in their lives away from campus, while completely transforming how card offices serve students. Students can activate and add their student ID to their phones without ever stepping foot in the card office or line at orientation. It frees up staff to spend more quality time with students that need personalized assistance.

Watch: Northern Arizona University on Implementing Mobile ID

Attaining the Right Mix of Technology and Humanity

As the old adage goes, the only thing that stays the same is that everything changes. Technology will never stop evolving, nor presenting new opportunities and challenges. Balancing technological advancements with human nature is an ever-present necessity, and the same High Tech, High Touch concept that John Naisbitt spoke on more than 40 years ago is still extremely relevant today.

With the right combination of technology and people, students and staff have a much better experience during their time on campus. Student and staff retention can be improved when technology helps streamline processes and opens the window for more personal interactions.

If you are interested in learning more about how TouchNet can help deliver premium student experiences with high tech solutions, please contact us for a complimentary demo.