School innovation chief tells ISTE audience: Start talking about tech implementation failures
June 27, 2017
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The application and social media platform hybrid allows students to submit video components to applications at participating colleges.
Cassandra Stephenson is a contributing writer at Scoop News Group, parent of EdScoop....
A web-based app is livening up the admissions process at a growing number of colleges and universities.
ZeeMee allows students to create a personal profile that can include videos, photos, text and files to present a fuller picture of their accomplishments to prospective colleges.
The ZeeMee Story platform is free to students and for universities to use on applications. But a suite of available back-end features, including artificial intelligence tools, and the ability to modernize the application process, has attracted more than 200 colleges to partner with the company, according to ZeeMee officials.
Elon University in Elon, North Carolina, began using ZeeMee Story in fall 2015 as a way to invigorate its admissions process and has since adopted ZeeMee Community, which features additional tools requiring a purchase.
“The idea of the video piece of the admissions application is exciting because, for a long time, admissions applications have been pretty stagnant,” Greg Zaiser, Elon University vice president for enrollment, told EdScoop.
“We’re always trying to get to know students, and we don’t require interviews, so by encouraging a ZeeMee profile, it helped … the admissions committee get to know the students a little better,” he said.
Zaiser said the platform provided a “fresh way to meet students where they are,” especially in the context of rising social media and mobile use. The short length of the videos — often one minute or less — adds comfort for students and does not significantly add to the application’s reading time for the admissions team, he said.
That ease of use has also translated into improved enrollment figures, according to Zaiser.
During the first year Elon offered a ZeeMee profile as an optional part of their application, 11 percent of applicants submitted a ZeeMee profile, Zaiser said. Elon also found that a greater percentage of accepted students who utilized ZeeMee ended up enrolling in the university.
This past admissions season, 14 percent of applicants submitted a ZeeMee profile with their application, and yield continued to increase, Zaiser said.
Colleges can add a box on their application form for students to paste in the link to their profile on ZeeMee. The platform works with multiple types of application software, including the Common App and custom software.
While ZeeMee Story was originally created as a “video platform for students to tell their story,” the product has since evolved to incorporate new capabilities with artificial intelligence, machine learning, and communication tools like chat bots, said ZeeMee CEO Juan Jaysingh in an interview with EdScoop.
ZeeMee Community offers social functions for colleges like school-specific chats between students and a tool for roommate matching. The newest form of the platform is set to roll out Aug. 1.
According to Jaysingh, the ZeeMee platform can follow students throughout their lives, from their first profile in eighth or ninth grade through college and beyond. “Their story continues to evolve … especially for this generation that we’re working with. We’re capturing that,” Jaysingh said.
Jaysingh said the video content created by students can now be used to connect them to others with similar interests. AI technology “reads” each video’s content. If, for example, a student mentions a love for hiking, the program will put them in a chat with another current student who shares this hobby, Jaysingh said.
The program is compatible with backend classroom response systems, student information systems, learning management systems and other applications, according to Jaysingh. In an industry where many colleges use multiple vendors for point solutions, Jaysingh said that ZeeMee is consolidating everything into one integrated platform.
“We’ve integrated everything in one place, so that’s the big difference,” Jaysingh said. "Before we were kind of doing it in silos. That’s how the industry’s set up. And when you look at the higher ed space, a lot of these colleges that we’ve worked with work with like 10 to 15 vendors.”
Zaiser said ZeeMee operates as a separate platform from Elon’s CRS. Elon stores only an applicant’s permanent record when it enrolls students, and other application information, such as video submitted using ZeeMee, is deleted.
Jaysingh said ZeeMee students also often reflect increased diversity because of its web-based mobile app capabilities. While it is common for students who have a laptop to also have a mobile phone, Jaysingh said, students who have a mobile phone may not have a laptop.
“ZeeMee’s applicants tend to stand higher in minority applicants than non-ZeeMee applicants,” Jaysingh said.
ZeeMee’s mobile app platform is designed to be available to these students.
“The most value is actually for the student,” Jaysingh said. “The colleges pay us and they’re our clients and we do everything to make sure that the technology works for them and give them high service, however, our real customer in this whole model is actually the student.”