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A new ‘dynamic’: University of Canberra gets closer to students

Jennifer O'Brien | June 9, 2017
University aims to better engage with students throughout their uni experience.

Looking ahead, she said the university is considering extending the system so it supports new students, school leavers, international students, and alumni.

"We're creating a platform for intelligent engagement with all our stakeholders, a way to create a strong and sustainable community," she said.

Additionally, the university is using SharePoint Online as a collaboration platform, and has developed a system called InterFace, which is a dashboard for students that uses .NET and Microsoft Visual Studio Data Services.

"Students and staff can use the dashboard to assess their progress and performance, then tap into the underpinning analytics to see what they could do to improve their results.In the future, information from InterFace could be fed into Dynamics to give us near real-time understanding of what students are looking for. That sort of insight can really make a difference to a student's engagement and retention," Armstrong said.


Apps to turbo-charge

Meanwhile, UC CIO and director, ITM, David Formica, said the university has built .NET apps to turbo-charge engagement with students and analyse the data collected to fuel innovation.

David Formica
David Formica

"The temptation to build an app for everything should be resisted; no organisation has limitless reserves or skills. But where there is a genuine opportunity to innovate and competitively differentiate, home-grown apps can prove a game changer," Formica said.

As such, the university has developed the Express Application, a .NET app which is accessible from any device, allowing prospective students, in as few steps as possible, to apply to study.

"If the student ticks the box on the application saying they don't have work experience, the app excludes any work experience questions, taking the student directly to the next set of required answers," he explained. 

"It's less frustrating for the student, and we can run analytics over the app to allow us to identify where students tend to stumble when completing their application. Armed with that insight we can examine if a question is too hard or ambiguous and go back and fix that."

Formica said the app, which took four months to develop, has already  cut the time taken to complete an application, and has been used almost 9,000 times - which is significant for a University with 12,000 students.

In addition, he said he development of the Interface student dashboard sets the university apart in the market. 

"Developed using .NET and Microsoft Visual Data Studio, it has been designed to really encourage students to engage. The graphics are strong, with Interface also using Microsoft tools for the analytical examination of the student, enabling timely support, and helping lecturers improve the success of their class."

He said the university also built a researcher dashboard that shows all research outputs.

"If we tried to licence a system for this it wouldn't be cost efficient, but we were able to take our development frameworks and build both a research and student dashboard app that are delivering great benefits." 


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