3 Takeaways From JAM Online 2021

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This year’s Jenzabar Annual Meeting (JAM) recently ended. JAM Online 2021 is now a wrap! Before diving into a few of the takeaways, we want to thank everyone who attended and participated in this year’s fully virtual event, which brought together more than 2,500 people, 415 higher education institutions, and over 100 sessions on best practices for leveraging technology and navigating today’s evolving education environment.

Keynotes, demos, and presentations at the event covered everything from how to leverage Jenzabar solutions most effectively to how institutions can restructure the way they operate on a fundamental level to transform the education space as a whole. Let’s take a look at some of JAM Online 2021’s bigger takeaways that institutions can apply to remain competitive and deliver more satisfying student experiences.

1. Tackle a Problem's Source, Not Symptom

JAM Online 2021’s guest keynote speaker was Brittany Wagner, the nationally respected athletic academic counselor and star of the hit Netflix documentary series, Last Chance U. During her session, she highlighted the idea of tackling a problem’s source, not just the top-level symptoms that appear more visible. This concept was central to her philosophy and lessons learned after helping students around the country achieve new levels of academic and personal success. By identifying and addressing the source of a problem, people are more likely to experience success in the long run.

This concept resonates and can be applied to how higher education institutions address their challenges. If a department is flooded and overwhelmed, doesn’t it make sense to fix the leak rather than use a bucket to catch the drip?

However, the first step to addressing a challenge is to admit the presence of said challenge. By regularly performing operational and technological audits, as well as working with an experienced partner, higher education institutions can find creative ways to fix fundamental issues that have lasting, wide-ranging impacts across campus.

It’s also important to take a step back and look deeply at the issue; are you looking at the symptom of a problem or is there something just below the surface that, when addressed, can fix the core issue that is creating that symptom? Sometimes it’s this new perspective that can really make a difference.

2. Technology is Your Ally

The technology landscape is inherently diverse and complex, but that doesn’t mean it should be feared. Institutions need to navigate uncharted waters and leverage modern solutions that can tackle and address evolving challenges. The world is much faster today than it was even a decade ago, so institutions must find innovative ways to keep pace. For example, personnel and students want automated, digital processes that are more agile and flexible, as opposed to conventional manual or paper-based operations.

Among the big takeaways from JAM Online 2021 was the growing need for self-service and personalization. People are used to leveraging e-commerce platforms like Amazon and receiving tailored a la carte programs from services like Netflix. These now normal experiences need to be carried into the higher education environment. Technology will be the key player here.

One technology platform that is filling the void for self-service, digital experiences is the chatbot. There is a growing interest in chatbots among institutions, as they provide organizations with a scalable online channel that can answer specific student queries without extensive human support. Jenzabar Chatbot, our award-winning solution, continues to make headway among institutions and the market.

In terms of personalization, institutions are looking at constituent relationship management (CRM) and innovative recruitment platforms that staff can be integrated into outreach and marketing strategies. By feeding information on prospective and existing students into these solutions, institutions can establish more intimate engagements with individuals that can support and nurture lifelong relationships.

Overall, higher education institutions need to reach deeper into the technology domain so they can ditch manual, paper-based, impersonal strategies and embrace more automated, digital, and engaging initiatives.

3. Your Priority is the Student

As emphasized in keynotes by Brittany Wagner and Ling Chai Maginn, Founder, President, and CEO of Jenzabar, students must remain the focal point for institutions, regardless of whatever else is happening. While this is nothing new, the COVID-19 pandemic and changes initiated by the crisis have reemphasized the importance of making sure that student experiences and success is the priority.

At JAM Online 2021, Jenzabar unveiled its updated mission and vision statements, which underscore our objective in helping institutions expand their reach and ensure everyone, everywhere can find and achieve their true calling. We were very excited to reveal these statements, as they resonate with student success priorities as the classroom changes and expectations for higher learning evolves.

With another JAM in the books, we look forward to navigating the exciting and changing world of higher education. New technologies are maturing and core priorities are growing more clear. As the education environment changes, we stay committed to helping institutions drive student success and achieving their mission.

P.S. Save the date for JAM 2021: June 1-4 in Nashville, Tennessee! See you next year!

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