Power Platform / Dynamics 365 Higher Education Accelerator - Part 2: Conceptual Diagram

Late 2019 Microsoft released V2 of the Power Platform / Dynamics 365 Higher Education Accelerator.

The Industry Accelerators are solutions that you install on your Power Platform environment. They extend the Common Data Model with specific entities, processes, apps, etc. This provides a great head start for companies and partners implementing Dynamics 365 in those particular industries.

Following my article about the Components of the Higher Education Accelerator, this article covers my interpretation of how the Accelerator concepts fit within the Power Platform / Dynamics 365 ecosystem.

Conceptual Diagram

The diagram describes what are the main functionalities of the solution and how they relate to one-another. Using such a diagram helps foster a shared understanding of the high-level features of your Power Platform / Dynamics 365 solutions.

More about why and when to use Conceptual diagrams can be found under - Model your Dynamics 365 Solution (Part 3) - Conceptual Diagram

In the below diagram, I've mapped out the concepts of the Higher Education Accelerator combined with some of the other Power Platform / Dynamics 365 Apps.

When you extend the Accelerator with some of the other Power Platform / Dynamics 365 Apps, you truly get a powerful platform where Higher Education institutions can streamline their processes for future and current students.

Now let's look at each of the diagram layers.


Common Data Service
The first layer of the conceptual diagram covers the standard Common Data Service Entities:
  • Contact which represents a physical person like a student, faculty or staff, etc.
  • Organization: Used to capture campuses, colleges or any other educational institutions.
  • Activity Timeline: The standard timeline with a list of activities (emails, appointments, calls, etc.) for that contact.
  • Documents & Collaboration: The suite of collaboration features available for you to leverage as part of the platform. Ex: Notes, Post, SharePoint integration, etc.
Dynamics 365 Higher Education Accelerator
The Accelerator extends the Common Data Model to include concepts for higher education, including entity definitions and relationships. The main components are:
  • Contact and Organization types: Student, Alumni, Faculty, Donor, School, College, etc.
  • Higher Education entities that extend the student record: academic program detail, course history, area of study, previous education, etc.
  • Business Process Flow to manage grant, internship and scholarship applications.
You can find more information on each of the components in this article: components of the Higher Education Accelerator

Dynamics 365 Sales App
Extend the Higher Education accelerator with the Sales App or build your own one.
This will help streamline the recruitment and admission process for new or existing students applying to study.

Dynamics 365 Customer Services App
The Customer Service App comes with plenty of features to effectively manage enquiries from students, parents, staff, etc. The Knowledge management functionalities will give you a central repository to store procedures and “Frequently Asked Questions” that can be published on the Student Portal.

Microsoft Forms Pro
Microsoft Forms Pro will help you create online forms and surveys. Those can be hosted on a website, sent manually or automatically sent by trigger events in your solution.

Microsoft Forms Pro can be used to:
  • Send event registration forms to students.
  • Gather feedback following enquiry completion.
  • Send surveys to capture additional information about presented course materials.

Microsoft Power Virtual Agents
The newly released Microsoft Power Virtual Agents will provide chatbot functionalities that can be embedded on your main website and the student portal.
Students can ask the chatbot questions and the bot can retrieve dynamic data coming from the knowledge articles stored in your solution. If the bot is not capable of responding to a specific question, the student can be redirected to chat with a human agent or a case can be created that can be picked up by a qualified agent.

Other scenarios to use chatbots include:
  • Provide an update on the student active enquires.
  • Give information about upcoming events.
  • Inform the students about course information.

CDS Config
Configure and customize the Higher Education accelerator to meet your specific needs.
Using the designer tools you can:
  • Create and update entities and relationships.
  • Create or modify forms, views, charts and dashboards.
  • Add or tweak Business Process Flows.
  • Create your own specific Apps.
More information on how to extend the Common Data Service can be found on Microsoft Docs : What is Common Data Service

Searching, reporting and User Interface
Searching and Reporting: Standard functionalities for searching and reporting on your Higher Education solution include: Quick Search, Advanced Find, Relevance Search, Dashboard and Reporting, etc.

Power BI: The Higher Education accelerator comes with a sample Power BI dashboard that provides analytics for completed courses and allows drilling into details about student performance, instructor effectiveness, and course feedback.

Student Portal: Where students can view course events, course history and submitted applications. The portal can be extended to allow students to manage their enquiries, consult FAQ or chat with a bot or a human agent.