Minecraft and Slate Strategy: Next Steps After You Have Your Base
Minecraft has made it to the Williams home in full force. My two oldest kids, Dougie and Dean, have decided to start capping out their daily screen time limits with a focus on chopping down virtual trees, building bases and wrecking each other’s homes–which isn’t too dissimilar from the real world.
Dougie is more methodical in his approach; he reads books about Minecraft, gets me to Google how many blocks to put together in an X pattern to create something new, learns the tricks and then applies them in the game. Dean watches his brother and there’s a lot of trial and error in his approach. But the other day I heard Dean say to Dougie, “I’ve built my new base and craft table; what’s next?”
In true professional spirit I also heard Rick Bailey whispering, “There’s a blog post in there.”
And so here it is.
As our team (and yours) ramps up for Technolutions’ Slate Summit, we’ve been having numerous conversations with current and prospective clients on where they should focus their energy once they’ve crossed the first cycle in Slate. As expert consultants, a key part of our job is to guide clients in setting expectations for implementation. We want to help prevent clients from applying Dean’s trial and error Minecraft approach to their Slate implementation: jumping in and attempting to figure out all of the incredible elements you can deploy right out of the gate is a bad idea.
But now that you’re here and you’ve made it past the build of your base, we’ve put together five areas for consideration to propel your team and strategy to new levels.
Financial Aid Integration
Whether your institution leverages your SIS or another platform for financial aid packaging and messaging, integrating these data into Slate creates a more transparent experience for students and families. In this recent post from Ken Anselment, VP for Enrollment Management at RHB, Ken discusses the opportunity to leverage these data to design coherent communications and provide clarity to stakeholders in the decision-making process. Tied in with checklists and award letters or data display within a portal, institutions have the opportunity to establish visibility into the cost of attendance to mitigate surprises and anxiety for students and families.
Our team recommends starting with an analysis of the data students and families are most interested in at this phase in the process (and of course, what’s appropriate to share). Having an understanding of how data is structured in other systems will guide decisions on how to leverage (or not leverage) checklists in Slate. From there, you can move into the realm of determining if you’d like to import a PDF of an award letter or design a letter template populated with those data points for a more dynamic experience. Regardless, the outcome creates a more student-centric approach to financial aid and cost at your institution.
Applicant Experience Portal
While we’re on the topic of portals, you’re now at a stage where you have a unique opportunity to enhance the experience for applicants and their families through a beautifully branded, informative and personalized portal. I commonly say during calls with prospective clients that with over 1,600 institutions on Slate, you differentiate yourself with efficient processes (behind the scenes), solid communications and experience. Design is at the core of so much of what we do at RHB, and portals are no exception.
“…we couldn’t be more thrilled with the result. The design is what we were hoping both from an aesthetic perspective as well as an architecture standpoint; we feel enabled and empowered to make any adjustments as we go along.”
— Will Deitte, Senior Director for EM Systems, Data and Reporting, Stevens Institute of Technology
Our Applicant Experience Portal is designed to take students and their families from the point of application submission through matriculation. Because the portal editor allows for complete customization, each portal we develop is unique for that particular institution. RHB’s technology consultants, designers and front end developers will guide your team through optimizing the experience to include various types of customized checklists, the aforementioned financial aid components, alerts, event management considerations and a plethora of other opportunities (and even some fun easter eggs) that will aid in marrying your physical and digital experiences.
At RHB, we tend to view Applicant Experience Portals as more than a transactional status page. We strive to design an experience that is action-oriented, informational and representative of your institutional brand, keeping visitors engaged and coming back for more.
If you’ve followed our work at RHB, this should be a no brainer. We’ve written extensively on the reasons why you shouldn’t be afraid to manage search in house. While many institutions are locked into multi-year engagements with search partners, there’s never a wrong time to explore this opportunity, and having a cycle in Slate completed is a great time to assess taking control.
“Our RHB team called us in to coherence and to excellence at the confluence of CRM technology and the human experience. Their support, guidance, and innovative thinking has already transformed the way we approach enrollment marketing and recruitment.”
— James Miller, Interim Vice Provost for Enrollment, Seattle University
There’s a significant level of pride–not to mention value–in being able to see and manage all of your data, control all of your messages and have the ability to augment the experience and messaging at any stage of the journey at any moment in time. Managing search in house allows teams to be more nimble and more responsive to market changes. Who doesn’t like that?
Probably not what you were thinking, right? We all work in education so I think it’s safe to say that we appreciate the mantra of “never stop learning.” Learning is another aspect that’s core to so much of what we do at RHB. It’s our goal to ensure teams feel empowered to leverage the systems and processes we design. And, it’s our hope that our focus on training promotes that same culture once we’ve moved into new projects.
“RHB’s extensive knowledge of Slate and how it has been implemented at different institutions provides a depth of insight that few others possess.”
— Amy Hutton, Ph.D., Assistant Vice President for Enrollment Management, University of Alabama
With a team of professionals who have experience designing and leading curriculum for Slate, it makes sense that one of our services is just that: hyper-focused trainings delivered in your database at the appropriate level for your team. The only way to advance your database is to feel comfortable in sustaining the solutions you have in place and confident to learn and try new things. We’re here to support you along the way. Speaking of training, we’re excited for our next RHB Academy at this year’s Slate Summit and look forward to some other exciting announcements on that front later this month.
In the last 18 months, we have seen an incredible uptick in the number of institutions reaching out to RHB for guidance on implementing student success initiatives in Slate. We’ve found that these conversations take several forms but almost all merit a period of intensive discovery with campus stakeholders. Student success and retention touch so many areas on a campus that it’s vital to have the right people at the table from the onset of an engagement. Whether we’re evaluating your current campus ecosystem to establish feature parity with Slate or guiding strategy around an effective advising and communication strategy for at-risk students, our work in the RHB Way for implementing Student Success in Slate is grounded in process analysis and change management.
Slate is an ever-evolving platform, and Summit is the perfect venue to explore the unique and creative ways that institutions and organizations are leveraging this technology to create incredible student experiences and enhance the daily lives of their teams. We look forward to connecting with you there.
My son just walked in with a Minecraft book. We’ve got a castle to build.