By Jason Jensen
Fall is in the air! Leaves are beginning to change, the air is crisper and a slurry of school buses may begin to fill your streets every morning and afternoon. Education is truly the cornerstone of America, paving the way for youth, young adults and anyone who is looking to expand their knowledge and make a positive impact in their field of choice. It’s a rewarding experience for everyone involved – for hardworking students grasping new concepts, for teachers and professors who come up with a creative curriculum to keep their students engaged and for administrators working behind the scenes to facilitate daily operations. “An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest”, Ben Franklin offered, and he was right on the money (and still is!). Yet, in a more glim light, Clayton Christensen, Harvard Business School Professor and author of The Innovator’s Dilemma, has written that “50 percent of the 4,000 colleges and universities in the U.S. will be bankrupt in 10 to 15 years.” In our fast-paced knowledge economy, education has never been more critical, yet often finds itself in the crosshairs of historical marketplace, social, and cultural challenges. So, what can be done by universities to gain a competitive advantage?
Introducing EDA and Education Cloud
The state of formal education is at a crossroads, and Salesforce has recognized its unique opportunity to impact student success. What started a few short years ago as the Higher Education Data Architecture (HEDA), Salesforce’s first foray into the education sector, has quickly grown into the Education Cloud – a larger constellation of open source CRM products designed to enhance the behind-the-scenes education experience from kindergarten through graduate school. Deepening its commitment to education, Salesforce made a critical decision to universalize HEDA into a model that could be utilized by the entire spectrum of learning. Relabeled as Education Data Architecture, or EDA, this powerful application can now be leveraged by the entire education industry to increase the odds of both student and school success.
The vision of EDA is to provide a 360-degree view of the student experience. The concept places the student at the center of their journey, while offering schools a well-planned software architecture to track and manage not only its programs, courses, advisors, and faculty, but also their Recruitment & Admissions, Alumni Relations, and Advancement efforts. Because this shared architecture is ultimately developed via open source and community collaboration, it offers a common nomenclature for professional Salesforce administrators, developers, and users to work with. Administrators can pick up where others have left off, adding new functionality that is constantly being rolled out by Salesforce and its partners alike to create a more elegant student experience.
In just the past two years, Salesforce has widened its efforts to meet the needs of students and administrators by expanding the Education Cloud offering to include student advisement software (Salesforce Advisor Link, or SAL), advancement software for philanthropy departments (Gift Entry Manager, or GEM), and even introducing Einstein artificial intelligence to the mix with benefits for Recruiting & Admissions (Einstein Analytics Strategic Services for Recruiting & Admissions) and student advisement (Einstein Next Best Action). Further, a K-12 supplement to EDA called the K-12 Kit has recently been released to help tackle challenges specific to both public and private primary and secondary education.
Gift Entry Manager (GEM)
GEM is a hybrid of EDA and NPSP functionality, at its core. And to achieve that, the installation process includes both a full install of EDA and a full install of NPSP. It currently does not include native online forms, nor native merchant account gift processing functionality. It does, however, include some of the long-awaited gift processing, and accounting functionality desired throughout the Higher Education vertical. Learn more about GEM here.
Salesforce Advisor Link (SAL)With the Salesforce Advisor Link, the platform is transforming a key element of the student success equation: advising. If you attended a traditional four-year institution for your undergrad, you’ll probably remember how advising looked: it involved lots of paper, walk-in hours, sitting in a hallway for your appointment, and most likely did not feel personalized at all. So what is Salesforce Advisor Link, and what does it do? Visit this blog to learn just that.
The K-12 Kit is a set of solutions for schools to engage and empower key constituents in your K-12 schools. Connect all your systems, data, and people on our cloud-based, mobile-first platform — and create new efficiencies in communications, student management, enrollment, and fundraising. You can learn more about the use cases and success that other K-12 institutions have seen by downloading The K-12 Trailblazer’s Guide to Salesforce.
Much of what makes these product announcements so exciting to education professionals is that they are built based on direct community feedback through community events like Open Source Sprints and the Power of Us Hub, an online community for Salesforce customers to create and vote on ideas for developing new features or improving features that already exist. As the saying goes, “None of us are as smart as all of us.” Salesforce’s technical team develops and maintains the technical architecture and codebase, but their work is guided by a large crowdsourced network of education professionals that influence the future of EDA, the Education Cloud, and ultimately, the success of their students.
So, what do these increasing efforts to the Education Cloud mean for students, teachers, and administrators, exactly? The ultimate benefit of leveraging Contact Relationship Management software is providing organizations the tools required to develop richer interpersonal experiences that drive engagement with the intent on mutual success. Student engagement is the lifeblood of learning – without it, learning simply cannot happen. The combination of Salesforce CRM, EDA, and the Education Cloud make running schools more streamlined, more actionable, and more successful for all parties involved. It simply makes learning more possible. When that happens, everyone benefits.
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