Remember the game of “telephone”? If it’s been a while since you played, here’s the gist: the first player whispers a message to the next, and the message is passed along in whispers until it reaches the last player. By then, it has inevitably changed from its original form, warped beyond recognition by compounded misunderstandings.
Children and adults alike can learn a valuable lesson from the game—namely, that keeping information in silos degrades its value.
If your postgraduate programs still run on a variety of platforms, like email, paper documents, and a Student Information System (SIS), with limited accessibility amongst students, faculty, and staff, you probably find yourself playing that classic game of telephone all over again. Only this time, the stakes are much higher.
In this post, we’ll dig into the problems with disconnected communications for postgraduate programs and explore how establishing a single source of truth can help modernize your program and increase completion rates.
The problem with multiple systems and data sources
As postgraduate programs grow, it’s not uncommon for processes to develop separately, some more intentionally than others. Each program has unique requirements, operating procedures, and systems. New processes and technology pop up here and there to help manage increased workflow and enrollment, but not always consistently.
The trouble arises when the wide array of systems, processes, files, etc., become more cumbersome than helpful.
Administrators struggle to track graduate students’ progress even within a program, not to mention institution-wide. They can’t easily pull stats like completion rate, retention, or time to completion. Students and advisors lose track of action items and steps toward graduation. Paper and email trails only make things worse, with processes that are difficult to track and share.
When critical data lives in more than one place—like handwritten notes, printed documents, email, and an SIS—you lose sight of the big picture. It’s easy for students, faculty, and staff to get off course.
Disconnected systems also impair effective communication and collaboration. There is little transparency, and lots of time is wasted on emails and calls just trying to establish a common understanding of procedure and progress. Without access to the same information when and where they need it, there’s an increased likelihood of confusion, delays, and even drop out.
Technology can help—with proper handling
Technology provides a logical solution to the problem, especially when digitizing paper documents and moving data online. But purchasing one-off software solutions to fill the gaps may only perpetuate the problem. Another approach that is common, but problematic, is attempting to utilize solutions developed for undergraduate programs to meet the needs of the complex nature of graduate studies. Any solution that does not provide integrations that enable easy communication between systems may merely superficially improve your data silos without actually fixing them.
A 2021 McKinsey study found that to engage effectively with students, higher education institutions should focus on eight dimensions of the learning experience. Two of these were “seamless connections” and a “clear educational road map,” neither of which is possible without a seamless integration of disparate data sources. This holds true whether your current processes are digital or paper-based.
Enter the single source of truth
A single source of truth is, in essence, the aggregation of data and communications into a central hub, accessible to everyone who needs it (students, faculty, and staff). With just one home for everything related to the postgraduate student journey, everyone involved can connect to a single reference point, effectively eliminating data silos, increasing transparency, and reducing miscommunication.
Single-point platforms that can integrate with other crucial systems like your SIS are the new tool of choice for postgraduate programs determined to modernize. Why? Broadly, because they are flexible, efficient, and easy to use.
Not only do graduate education platforms make it easier to track student progress, they also increase transparency for administrators looking for critical stats like completion rates and time to graduation.
Imagine a single software platform that could:
- Integrate with existing solutions, like the student record system
- Create a complete, interactive student record, available to students and their advisors
- Provide easy access to program workflows and record-keeping
- Produce dashboards showing key program statistics
- Cross-link to other related record systems
Stop playing “telephone” with your postgraduate programs. Cayuse’s Graduate Education Manager (GEM) is a simple, efficient platform that connects every element of your postgraduate student journey.
Request a demo to learn how GEM can generate your single source of truth.