By using this site you agree to the use of cookies for analytics.Learn More
Advantage Design Group
Advantage Design Group
800.657.1338 | 904.722.8200
6877 Phillips Industrial Blvd | Jacksonville, FL 32256

How Advantage Orientation Builds Campus Culture & Student Confidence

Digital experience platform engages diverse student groups while building a culture of respect.

Devin Carpenter, Director of Student Success at the University of Montana, faced all-too-familiar challenges delivering an in-person new-student orientation. For more students, attending a live event was not enough, and for others, addressing tough topics in a group setting was too much.

There was not enough space to accommodate a growing number of attendees, and there was not enough convenience for busy transfer, military-affiliated, or non-traditional-age students. When the program turned to mandated sessions related to sexual assault, consent, and bystander roles, some students were activated and sought counseling. It became apparent that covering these topics in a group setting was stressful for everyone.

“While learning the information is part of the culture of what it means to become a student here at our school,” he said, but also acknowledged, “It just really is not the appropriate environment for that kind of content about really serious topics … we knew we had to change something, that just wasn’t going to be the way we could keep doing it.”

Carpenter demonstrated how he met these and other challenges during a recent webinar featuring the University of Montana’s online orientation.

An Adaptable Orientation Solution

After examining the platform's capabilities and broad scope of creative development and technical services, Devin and his leadership team were soon convinced that it could resolve every challenge.

Devin explained how online orientation is positioned as a required warm-up for what used to be considered a Welcome Week orientation. He added that he has since altered the focus of the live event to be more transitional, resulting in shorter information sessions and longer peer-led engagement opportunities during a week-long immersive program known as the Big Sky Experience.

With Advantage Orientation®, Devin has a dynamic, interactive, and highly accessible tool to meet new students where they are. Online orientation is self-paced, and students can start, stop, and pick up where they left off at any time, on any device. By self-identifying as members of a particular student group, their experience is more personalized with information relevant to them.

Devin loves the creative blend of vibrant videos and graphic elements, combined with the functionality and personalized content tailored to make learning about the University of Montana inclusive, interesting, and fun. Collaborating with video, UX design, and content writing experts at ADG, Devin said he was impressed by how efficiently the production process was carried out.

“Our marketing team was BLOWN away at how well [our] new brand guidelines were creatively woven into the platform. The custom design really sets us apart,” Devin said.

He mentioned the relatively nominal annual subscription cost and the platform's nimbleness to create or alter content on the fly as key selling points. What really sealed the deal, however, was the ability to incorporate tough topics into the experience in a thoughtful and empowering way for students.

“The Exit Button

At first, Devin said he was nervous about the prospect of students undergoing such heavy, required training in a less controlled environment. He was reassured when he saw the best practices Advantage Design Group® employs to present information in its platform. Relatable videos, student testimonials, quizzes, games, and discovery tools encourage engagement and interaction, allowing students to choose their pace and opt-in for additional resources.

Expanded view of "Community of Respect" section included in Online Orientation

To address the tough topics and policies surrounding sexual harassment, Devin and his team created a module within the orientation entitled “Community of Respect.” While each step in the module is still configured to require completion before students can progress, they gain the benefits of privacy and feeling more in control than in a room full of strangers. Additionally, Advantage Design Group® incorporated a special feature—the Exit Button. This programming allows any student experiencing activation to leave the screen to complete the orientation and gain access to the university’s support services if they desire.

Refining the Total Onboarding Experience

With access to more meaningful data within the orientation platform, Devin can monitor essential touchpoints from aggregate and individual views and use filters to compare data over time or among student types. High student satisfaction ratings captured in the built-in survey already indicate what students like while also providing insights into how the experience can be refined. The ability to onboard new students incrementally and in a way that reflects on the university brand already provides him with more options to bolster his retention and persistence strategies.

“Overall, this has really allowed us to continue crafting the Big Sky Experience into a highly engaging, almost no-presentation type of program,” he said. “And so, this [Advantage Orientation] is filling a need of information transfer … in a really beautiful and also engaging way.

It’s an amazing product.”

Learn More & Request a Tour

Partner with Advantage Design Group® today and empower your students with an accessible and engaging orientation experience they won't forget. Use the form here to request a live tour to learn more about our family of digital student experiences including the Advantage Orientation® Universal Series, Advantage OnDemandTM, and Advantage Recruiting TM.

Want to experience the University of Montana’s online orientation for yourself? Explore the demo here.

Related Story: Breaking Barriers to College: How to Give Underserved Students More Access