These statistics indicate that it's necessary to make information accessible where, when and how students want it; not just for convenience’s sake, but also to manage the costs students are experiencing, and, in some cases, causing them to reconsider the cost-benefit analysis of attending college altogether. As many as 40% of low-income students2 accepted to college are not showing up in the fall. Here are four of the ways colleges and universities can embrace students’ expectations to be able to capture, access and manage information efficiently and cost-effectively:
1. Digital course packs and textbooks bring crucial educational materials … everywhere. As discussed above, almost half of Americans believe electronic textbooks could help keep costs down for students. Textbooks are a huge expense for students in higher education. For example, a standard print Calculus textbook retails for more than $300. But the same book, in digital form, can cost a student as little as $50 (both at Amazon.com). Electronic textbooks and course packs also provide the added bonus of making packing for class – and studying on the go – much easier, as all one needs to access course texts is their smartphone. Learning management environments have come to serve as the nerve center of this digital content, and students need to be able to get information into and out of them. Enabling them to capture information they create and integrate it into a learning management system (LMS) isn’t just efficient – it’s an effective use of resources.
2. Breaking down information silos drives down administration costs. Paper-based processes are simply slower and less efficient than their digital counterparts. As my colleague BJ McFarland discussed, improved processes can significantly reduce costs associated with producing invoices, and even help avoid overpaying for goods and services. Silos rooted in manual processes between the different departments that touch invoices often add up to wasted hours, days, and dollars. Automating the manual steps of invoice processing to quickly scan incoming documents, capture metadata and electronically submit invoices to relevant departments for review, approval, and automatic Accounts Payable check generation can address this gridlock. Getting more work done more quickly drives down labor costs, of course, but cutting out the “middle man” of paper also drives down material costs, as well enabling colleges and universities to pass those savings on to students.