Arizona State University (ASU) is always looking for a way to better engage students.
“It’s our mission to help Sun Devils feel more connected to each other and the diversity of opportunities around them,” says CIO, Lev Gonick. “Slack has been a connective tissue across ASU, enabling deeper discussions and greater productivity in both formal and informal spaces.”
They have gone all in with Slack as their digital campus solution and this blog post is here to tell you all about it so that you have key takeaways to apply to your own institution.
A Brief Background on ASU
ASU has multiple campuses, along with thousands of online students who are located all over the country and the world. ASU has been recognized by US News & World Report as the country’s most innovative school and prides itself on graduating more than 27,000 thinkers and innovators each year.
Since so many of their students are enrolled digitally, ASU is constantly looking for better ways to engage their students online. Engagement is especially important during enrollment and the onboarding of new students.
Knowing that innovation is the backbone of success, ASU knew they needed a technical solution to step in and improve how they communicate with students.
ASU’s Previous Student/Success Coach Process
ASU aimed to streamline their process for admitting and enrolling students as well as keeping them engaged and successful throughout their school year.
They have a student network where they set new students up for success and also provide a way for students to network with each other. ASU really wanted to build a sense of community at their universities.
A lot of work went into keeping students engaged especially because ASU’s students are all over the country, not just in Arizona. Networking and engagement relies more on digital workflows than a lot of other schools.
The previous platform relied on Facebook authentication, but Facebook is dwindling in usage for the college demographic so this became problematic.
Why ASU Decided to Work With Robots & Pencils
ASU and Robots & Pencils started the initiative in 2019 after getting fed up with the complicated way of communicating with their students.
To avoid relying on Facebook or other social networks, ASU wanted to find a way to use their own single sign on technology to communicate with students.
In February of 2020, after some beta testing, ASU’s new program launched, utilizing Slack as the communication hub and cutting down on all of the digital clutter from their old workflows.
Robots & Pencils not only was willing to create a tailored solution for ASU but they also helped re-imagine their workflows. Companies find that they need a healthy balance of technical and creative so Robots & Pencils often creates solutions but doesn’t stop there — we also help with the visual and planning aspects of implementing something new.
Slack wasn’t designed to be a social network or a student portal, so ASU needed a partner like Robots & Pencils to customize Slack and tailor it to their needs in order to create a space that was useful and accessible to their students.
The Digital Solution
Robots & Pencils implemented a streamlined way for ASU to connect students with other students and stay engaged throughout their college career.
Broken down by channels in Slack, Robots & Pencils helped ASU create spaces for students characterized by student type, campus and college groups.
In June of 2020, Robots & Pencils implemented a Slack bot that helped with the onboarding process and cut down the amount of manual labor that was going on to get students signed up and engaged in the portal. It also automatically puts students into the right channels and simplifies moderation within the community.
The Slack bot keeps onboarding organized and automated so it has resulted in a lot of time savings for ASU staff and eliminated frustrations for the students. The bot also allows ASU employees to message students based on student type, major, and other traits so the communication process has gotten a lot easier. Student Success Coaches can even quickly look up information about each student so that they provide learners with better, more personalized support.
How Slack Integrations Transformed ASU’s Student Success
Once ASU transitioned to Slack in 2019, they were able to streamline their student engagement and instead of using 4 tools, they consolidated everything into Slack.
Once the new Slack processes were created, ASU saw the amount of active students in their portal jump from 8,000 a year to 15,000 a year, showing that students have been responding well to these new workflows.
What Does This Example of Digital Transformation Mean for My Brand?
As this example shows, there is always a better way to do things when you have the right technology partner. If you think parts of your process are too time consuming or you rely on too much manual labor, there is definitely a solution out there for you.
Slack doesn’t have to be just for internal communications; when structured properly, it can be a communication hub if you’re willing to think outside the box.
What areas of your external and internal workflows could be improved? We’d love to have a great chat with you about it in the comments below!