The context in which I work is an undergraduate academic advising unit. The services we provide range from helping students choose courses to navigating administrative processes. When I saw the list below it immediately struck a chord:
Even the term "interactive" doesn't necessarily mean that each party is equally active or even engaged. Think about "browsing" the web or flipping through TV channels. The device or platform is responding to us all along the way, but we only pay attention to what we choose. What we can surmise from this list of expectations is that members of this group are either not equipped to seek and find answers, or they simply don't feel like doing so. If you expect 24-hour service, 7 days a week, this might mean that you don't feel like planning ahead so that you can adhere to someone else's schedule. If you prefer to gather information via remote or mobile means, then you probably don't feel like physically coming into an office to ask a question. Generalizations? Sure. But these are real attitudes that I'm sure we can all recognize in ourselves. After all, I haven't paid an electric bill on paper in almost a decade...or written my grandmother a letter, for that matter.
More and more institutions are adopting the "one stop shop" model in student services, where integrated online tools allow for self-service transactions across formerly siloed departments such as registration, financial aid and bursar:
"It aims, in all, to empower students to get what they need, when they need it, from anywhere, at 2 p.m. or 2 a.m. It aims also to liberate institutions from archaic, inefficient, often redundant models suited for a bygone era."
So which came first: the technological innovations or the students demanding them? I would argue that it was a growing population of individuals no longer accustomed to intentional, face-to-face transaction in their off-campus lives which made colleges rethink how they deliver services.