University intranets – believe it or not – are a big part of the student experience. It’s where freshers go to find out information about their first lectures; where teaching staff upload their lecture slides for anyone who missed class; and where final year students submit their dissertation.
The university intranet portal may not be the most exciting part of student life, but it is an important one. Students and staff alike will notice – and get frustrated by – outdated intranet solutions that are difficult to use, poorly designed, and full of irrelevant content.
Why university intranets need modernising
University intranets are no new thing. Often separated into two areas – one for students and one for staff – university intranet portals have been around the block for a while.
However, university intranets have never been particularly inspiring, offering little more than document storage and news sharing. This is a big waste of a technology that could be used in ways that can provide much more than static pages. Intranets have come a long way, yet university intranets are often stuck using applications which are 10 years out of date. Let’s take a look at the latest intranet functionality – and how those features can help staff and students alike get more from their university experience.
Improve communication between students and staff
Social intranet apps make communication easy. By incorporating familiar social networking features – such as likes and comments – with collaboration spaces, students and staff can communicate with each other quickly directly on the intranet.
In the past, communication between tutor and student involved looking up their email address on the static intranet, sending an email, and waiting for a response that may well get lost in the inbox.
Rather than using the student intranet solely for information gathering, use it for direct and real-time communication. Create individual communication channels for specific courses, university faculties, or general enquiries, to ensure that students can get the answers they need, and quickly.
Create intranet communication channels for different topics, such as per course, faculty, or general chat
Reduce exam stress with support forums
Exam stress; we’ve all been there, and it can feel completely overwhelming to the point that it can block productivity and increase anxiety. A proven method for coping with exam stress is getting support, and providing students with support forums on the university intranet can be a great way of getting students to talk about their worries and get advice.
Intranet forums created especially for exam stress can help create a supportive and informal environment, where students can share revision tips, set up study groups, and get advice. Forum moderators can be added, who can offer support and guidance for students who are suffering from severe levels of stress and anxiety, and point them to specialised university counselling services if appropriate.
Facilitate blended learning with e-learning courses
Blended learning – the practice of learning via traditional means such as lectures combined with digital methods like online courses – is gaining traction in the education sector. Penned as “redefining education”, incorporating a mix of digital tools and face-to-face interaction is helping students to learn in their own time and in a way that suits their learning styles.
Today’s modern university intranets can be integrated with your learning management system to facilitate blended learning and create a seamless transition from classroom to computer. Courses and modules can be uploaded onto the e-learning system by the course tutor, where students can be automatically enrolled and notified that they have a course to complete. Students can take part in online courses at a time that suits them, rather than having to attend lectures at set times. This ensures better retention rates, where students won’t be missing out on vital teaching if they cannot attend an onsite lecture.
Tutors and faculty staff can monitor a student’s progress on the system too, with inbuilt reporting on progress, attendance, completion dates, and qualifications gained. Tutors can also create tailored learning paths for individual students, helping to guide them through a set of courses, seminars, and workshops.
Implementing an e-learning system throughout the university will put it well ahead of the competition from other institutions, as it shows a commitment to investing in technologies which are proven to assist different learning styles. And considering 18% of students stress about outdated IT facilities at university, it’s vital that universities keep up with technological advancements.