Innovation for Technology-Supported Student Services Delivery

Innovation for Technology-Supported Student Services Delivery

Adrianna Andrews-Brown (Royal Roads University, Canada)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-2943-0.ch013


Student services are delivered in person, online, synchronously, and asynchronously in order to meet students' varied needs and preferences. Through a critical analysis of relevant literature, this chapter explores how student services units can incorporate technological solutions to ensure students are aware of services and can access them when needed. Technology-enhanced student services are explored through examples in the literature of innovative technological solutions for student services delivery, including leveraging existing institutional systems (learning management systems and customer relationship management systems) to support services for students. The chapter concludes with recommendations for administrators and student services providers.
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Leading Innovation And Change

The Merriam-Webster dictionary (2019) defines innovation as, “the introduction of something new [or] a new idea, method, or device” (para. 1). Innovations in services for students in higher education, may include implementing new services, leveraging technology, or instituting improvements to existing services. All of these require changes within existing structures or ways of doing things. Regardless of the type of innovation, innovations mean changes for personnel delivering student services. In his book “Change Leadership in Higher Education,” Jeffrey Buller (2015) asserted that change can be challenging for organizations because some organization members may resist or fear change. To overcome an aversion to change, Buller argued that leaders should foster an organizational culture of innovation that encourages organization members to try new ways of doing things, to be creative, and to take (reasonable) risks stating:

We need to devote energy toward creating a culture of innovation, not to tracking metrics we can’t easily control and don’t really reflect what’s most important to us. We need to create that culture of innovation by focusing on people and processes, not by overemphasizing outcomes (p. 238).

Buller (2015) described how leaders can provide an environment that supports innovations by fostering trust, focusing on the people comprising the organization, providing opportunities to break out of routines and ingrained patterns, and celebrating creativity. Buller provided a compelling argument for leaders to foster cultures of innovation and detailed actions that could be taken to do so. However, while Buller discussed cultures of innovation, he did not directly address how to lead innovation. Additionally, while Buller provided a high-level perspective on how to lead change, Kowch (2018) outlined practical considerations for leading innovations in education through five principles:

  • 1.

    Innovations in educational environments are appreciated by students and may have effects beyond the immediate learning environment;

  • 2.

    Initial buy-in to an innovation may be limited;

  • 3.

    Innovations may cause unpredictable changes in the organization, including lack of uptake of the innovation itself;

  • 4.

    Innovations alter organizations in complex ways and complex organizations primed for change foster innovations; and

  • 5.

    Leaders will learn to recognize opportunities for experimentation and innovation in the primary functions of the organization, leading to organizational transformation.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Millennials: Pullan described millennials as “born between 1982 and 2003, they are the first generation to have grown up with the Internet” (p. 238) and as customers of education who expect high levels of customer service and “demand that more learning be delivered asynchronously, via whatever electronic telecommunications device they have at hand” (p. 237).

Self-Service: Crawley and Fetzner (2013) recommended that institutions invest in self-service as a way to support students, including services “delivered through static online information, interactive multimedia orientations and tutorials, or sophisticated applications that allow students to complete transactions such as degree audits” (p. 9) as well as developing online peer mentoring programs that connect experienced and new students to build community and develop relationships.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM): “is a set of practices that provide a consolidated, integrated view of customers across all business areas to ensure that each customer receives the highest level of service” ( Seeman & O’Hara, 2006 , p. 24).

Learning Management System (LMS): A web-based system used to support and deliver instruction.

Innovation: The Merriam-Webster dictionary (2019) defines innovation as, “the introduction of something new [or] a new idea, method, or device.”

Student Support Services: Judith Potter (1998) defined student support services as “the many forms of assistance that are intended to both remove barriers (situational, institutional, dispositional, and informational) and promote academic success” (p. 60).

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