March 12, 2019
Why Higher Education Institutions Need Intelligent Content

Higher education institutions need intelligent content just as much as any business or other organization. Why? Because higher education institutions support a number of channels that reach out to students, alumni, parents, faculty and administration and they need to ensure those experiences are consistent in terms of the content they provide.

Let's look at three examples where intelligent content makes the student experience better.

Content Re-use

Colleges and universities have multi-constituent information architectures (IAs). They create content for students and prospective students, parent, alumni, faculty and admin and much of that content is the same or closely related.

A content delivery framework with an intelligent content management model enables institutions to apply taxonomy and tags to content that help them create content once and deliver that content to different constituents and channels.

It's not only content. A multi-tier IA also uses templates that leverage the same content. For example, a college website has a home page, section headers and detail pages; and each section and detail page support a different audience. Many of these pages also probably use some of the same content, such as news and events. An intelligent content model that supports content reuse is required for this approach to succeed.

Student Portals

Student Portals have become increasingly popular in the last couple of years. In our latest digital priorities survey, which we conducted through December 2018 and January 2019, we found that 47% of the schools that took the survey have a student portal and are planning improvements, while another 27% either have an active student portal project or are planning to implement one this year.


A modern student portal provides access to both student systems and business applications, including upcoming tuition payments, class projects and work deadlines, upcoming events and more. The portal also provides areas for class information, collaboration tools for students who work together on projects as well as a community where students can share information and help each other be successful, and they must be accessible via both desktop and mobile/tablet device.

One of the key elements for a successful student portal is intelligent content. For example, you create descriptions of courses and connect them to course IDs in your back-office database or student system application, then display those course descriptions with the student portal according to each student's registration list. Alongside each course, you might also want to show more details about the class, the instructor and campus groups related to the type of course, books on sale at the bookstore and other related information. To create a web page that shows all this information requires a bringing together of content from different areas.

If a student is viewing the portal on their smartphone, you might not want to show as much information due to the form factor. Instead of full course descriptions, you might want to show a one-line description with a link to the full description. And you might not want to show details of groups on campus focused on the course, but instead links to the groups dedicated page on the campus Intranet.

Thanks to intelligent, structured content, you can create experiences with the right amount of information while ensuring that every experience is consistent in the actual content they deliver.

Digital Student Assistants

Where chatbots are popular on business sites, digital student assistants are quickly becoming popular in Higher Education. According to Aftab Hussain, Strategic ILT Lead, Bolton College digital student assistants will go through a number of stages from a basic campus chatbot that helps students in their day-to-day campus activities through to a true assistant:

"The service acts on behalf of every teacher and member of the student support team to deliver a personalised and contextualised service at scale to every student at the institution. It's assistive capabilities transform how education services are designed, delivered and managed on the campus."

To provide all ranges of capabilities, intelligent content is required. For a chatbot to work effectively, it needs to connect to a range of information repositories across campus and pull required chunks of information that are then connected and shared through the bot.

Like a chatbot on a retail website, the content must be tailored to the information the student provides, and it can't be long, detailed text. When content is structured, it's easier to take the chunks of content required to feed the chatbot and ensures that content is the same as what you provide on a website or student portal. Creating an intelligent content model allows for this level of content chunking and delivery of selected chunks depending on the channel requesting the information.

Learn How to Get Started with Intelligent Content

Forward-thinking colleges and universities are looking at student portals and digital assistants to improve student experiences. Even if one or both isn't on your immediate list of things to do, investing in an intelligent content strategy now prepares you for the time when you do decide to move forward.

To help get you started, check out our Intelligent Content Primer, which talks about the technology required to support an intelligent content model and the different strategic approaches to consider.

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