As summer draws to a close, 14.9 million high-school students will be heading back to the books. National reports show that almost 18.6 million will show up at college and university campuses in 2015.
We all know that digital textbooks and iPads are slowly replacing their paper counterparts, and that more students type on laptop computers than writing notes longhand. But educators are starting to use some recent technologies in ways that might surprise you.
Here are six hi-tech solutions finding their way to campuses.
#1 Long admissions lines
Whether it’s college pre-registration or signing up for extracurricular activities, standing in long “A – Z” lines can be tedious for students. A better and more efficient way? Pagers, similar to those used for restaurant guests, let students go about their business while waiting. A new student can simply show up, sign in and receive their paperwork along with a coaster pager. While filling out the forms, the student receives status updates by page or text message, letting them know when to return. This more efficient process eliminates the long lines which means less harried students and staff.
#2 The hallway outside the principal’s office
There’s nothing that makes a student fidget more than waiting in enrollment lines – except the line outside the principal’s office. Waiting in the hallway takes students away from their classes which means work missed that has to be made up later. Enter waitlist management solutions like On Cue, which can help administrators organize their visitor lists via iPads or an online tool. And since the solution can send texts or pages to students when it’s their turn, students can go back to class while they wait. Less class time missed, less peer pressure and less hallway crowding.
#3 The lunchtime blues
Lunchtime at last! Where both students and school workers are concerned, the lunchroom cashier is one of the least efficient operations. Cashiers have to deal with cash, credit, cafeteria accounts – not to mention frequently-lost student ID cards. Some schools are solving this with biometrics – fingerprint scanners that eliminate the need for carrying any of these. Parents simply register a payment method, students provide their thumbprint – and the lunch line moves right along.
#4 Bringing “fast casual” to the student center
University cafeterias can also benefit from biometrics, but college students also have other dining options. Some student center cafes are implementing tableside food delivery instead of having students wait at the counter. The cashier hands the student a tracker device, the student finds a table or a couch and the food comes to them. This reduces congestion and congestion around the cashier.
#5 Keeping the calm
In a classroom, intercom systems can be more disruptive than informative. Whether a routine announcement or an emergency, schools are keeping their staff informed by using silent alphanumeric pagers. Administrators can notify a single professor, a group or the entire campus without disrupting students’ work. And when paired with tracker devices, administrators can pinpoint the location of school personnel during a safety drill or crisis.
#6 Getting feedback
Finally, taking a cue from the hospitality industry, schools are gathering student feedback with digital tablet-based surveys. From cafeteria food to campus health center care, the devices provide students a popular and painless way to give “point-of-service” feedback without the paper fuss. And instant analytics reports give administrators the information they need to make adjustments, whether in cafeteria menus or student center events.
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John Weber is the chief technology officer at LRS and an expert in operational efficiency and creating a memorable guest experience.