What Playstation 4 Can Teach Higher Ed

Just a few months ago, I joined EverFi to lend my leadership and voice to their efforts to partner with education leaders in an effort to educate our kids on critical life skills.  Having spent the last 13 years working with educators and administrators, I bring to EverFi a true passion for promoting education technology solutions, and a strong desire to affect change in some critical areas of higher education.


Today, colleges and universities are forced to deal with the often-competing interests of how to provide an even higher quality educational experience to their students while tuition costs and budgets are under extreme scrutiny.  When you further consider the heightened focus on post-graduate success and the move by some states to tie funding to student achievement and retention rates, the result is mounting pressure that we all face every day as education leaders.

Whether we like it or not, most students today are increasingly making their decisions about college like they make other decisions as consumers.  Some recent studies provide striking comparisons between the expectations that students have for their education experience, and that which they would have about any other consumer purchase decision.

We are living in an on-demand world, and these convergent issues are having an impact on higher education.  The reality is that students have higher expectations about how/when/where they will “consume” education, and what the value is of the decisions that they make.  Sites like College Reality Check and College Scorecard aim to help students better understand, evaluate, and select the school that best meets their needs.  Interactive forums on College Confidential invite students (and parents) to comment about the pros and cons of schools, post comments, and ask questions.  At the end of the day, students are quite literally shopping for a school and they expect to “buy” a college experience that is as flexible and customizable as their Facebook page.

ps4_play_imgSo what are the implications to a university welcoming in a class of first-year student-education consumers?   I would suggest we look no further than the 5 key principles in crafting PS4 architecture – for those of you non-millenials like me, that’s Playstation 4, Sony’s popular gaming console.

  1. Simple: Don’t over-complicate it, (whatever “it’ may be).  Make it intuitive and easy to absorb.
  2. Immediate: Deliver content to a student when they want it, where they want it, and while it’s most relevant.
  3. Integrated: Commit to interconnected programming across your campus.
  4. Social: Reach students where they are, leveraging the social tools they use.
  5. Personalized: Leverage data to create a custom experience for your students tailored to their academic and non-academic needs.

While some may view comparisons between gaming consoles and higher education to be a stretch – if not downright offensive – I firmly believe that we, as higher education leaders, must spend more time thinking through the implications of our approach to the students that we serve. Today’s students have great experiences with top brands like Zappos, Amazon, and Facebook because those brands understand what their consumers expect.  The very notion of “student services” is rapidly changing, and I look forward to continuing to work with you in my new role at EverFi as we tackle these issues together.