Insights

Great Ways to Virtually Connect with Residents

Here are some fun and exciting ways for universities to keep connected with students to ensure they are engaged, happy, and productive during COVID-19.
COVID-19 has disrupted thriving residential communities around the globe. We now see students that are either back home and remote, or in residence and in isolation. It’s more important than ever to connect with those students to ensure they are engaged, happy, and productive. Here are some fun and exciting ways to keep you all connected.

Help the mind, body, and soul

At StarRez, we have launched online morning yoga for our team three times a week. It has been an excellent class that is adopted by staff all around the globe. This can easily be provided online to your community and is a great mind, body, and spirit exercise.

Let the games begin

We have found Jackbox Games an entertaining way to have groups of people socializing together. Other forms of online trivia can also serve you well.

Nido Student , one of the leading purpose-built student accommodation providers, has organised a virtual events calendar with different activities such as yoga and cardio classes, meditation, live DJ sets, cookery classes, and even a fun Netflix party. They are using their Instagram Live so everyone can attend from their room or home – what a great idea!

“At Nido Student, the people who live with us and their wellbeing are at the heart of everything we do. We think a lot about how to bring them together in safe and happy ways. Whether the students in our community are quarantining in our residences, self-isolating at home, or just part of the local neighbourhood we operate in, we wanted to provide a platform to keep everyone entertained and healthy. The virtual events which are taking place on our public Instagram profile allow us to do that, and we’d love to extend the invitation out to the StarRez community to join us.”

Connor Ryan – Brand Experience – Nido Student

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Capitalise on the virtual world

If you have living-learning communities, there is now an opportunity for you to continue these themes virtually. For example, if you have an Art’s themed floor, you could plan an activity to conduct a virtual museum tour of the Guggenheim Museum and then have a group discussion and review over zoom and coffee once a week. Some great museum virtual tours can be found here .

The outdoor adventure theme could also follow this idea with virtual tours of the world’s natural wonders. You could even start planning outdoor dream adventures for the future.

Regular touchpoints

Some students might be struggling with the loss of belonging to their previous roommates, residence halls, campus, and community. Regular touchpoints over video calls are absolutely essential to ensure they are settled into their new living environment. Some students might not have great technology, so a basic phone call can be very valuable. Always check in to make sure they have the right technology for online learning (internet, laptop, cybersecurity tips), have a great study space, and are taking care of themselves with proper nutrition and exercise.

We find that our campus life interactions module is a great place to keep track of these regular touchpoints. Should anything worrying be raised, the persons of concern workflow can be started to keep track of the concerns and action items. All of this is available in dashboard reports so you can easily monitor the resident’s well-being. Your team can then report and prioritize the residents that are more at risk, less engaged or struggling with the changes.

At Baylor University, they have implemented a “Bear Care” program where each staff member is assigned 20-40 residents to keep connected with.

“It’s a University all play, each staff member is assigned to a group of students who we reach out to help them determine what the pain points of taking online classes and not being around their fellow students. We assist them in finding resources across the university whether its financial, class load, technology, studying or any other barriers to their success. Baylor has created talking points, weekly focuses, and a way to keep notes and track our communications. The goal is to personally help each student get through this challenging time. We have found that many students are doing well, but we feel that if we didn’t reach out and connect to them, we wouldn’t know how to help those who are struggling. This goes right along with our philosophy during the normal academic year, and this is a continuation of that, the only difference is that our Bears just happen to be a little further away.”

Ryan Cohenour, Associate Director for Housing Administration.

There are some other considerations like students with accessibility needs which could impact your choice of technology.

Fortunately, we have lots of great options when it comes to technology. Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Webex, Facebook (try a private group), Twitter (for quick updates and announcements), Google Hangouts, Slack and don’t forgot a basic email, text or call can ensure everyone is connected.

So there is a lot of great options with technology that can help you engage your residents and I think now is the time to stand out and make the extra effort to connect and engage residents as much (or more) than you were in the pre-COVID-19 world.

Travis Knipe
As the CEO of StarRez, Travis has led a significant period of growth for the company and is most passionate about connecting with his teams and community.

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