I had an amazing time being on Seth Odell’s Higher Ed Live weekly web show. I was asked to talk about higher education and web accessibility. We just barely scratched the surface of what it means to have an accessible web. However, I think that this was a great conversation starter and I look forward to coming on the show to talk about accessibility in 2011.
The back channel conversation provided a lot of questions and insight. It was great to see so many higher education professionals engaging in a conversation on web accessibility and higher education.
Seth and I put together a terrific list of accessibility resources for folks to peruse over at his website. Like I said last night: We all go together or we don’t go at all. Accessibility is an ethical mandate. Accessibility might not be the sexy topic du jour (eg: social media), but it is necessary.
One of the topics that is frequently making the rounds in my head is the need for an academic advising management system in higher education. SunGard Higher Education’s DegreeWorks appears to offer a comprehensive platform for academic advisors. However, DegreeWorks, like most of the products that SunGard offers, seems to be about as user-friendly as Banner ;-) and it costs a lot of money. AdvisorTrac can be used for appointment scheduling and appointment tracking. Unfortunately, AdvisorTrac was not originally created with academic advising in mind. It’s a scheduling platform that has “advisor” in its name and is thus an industry leader. This is mostly due to the extremely empty sphere that is the world of academic advising management systems.
I would love to have an academic advising system that is extremely functional, user-friendly and aesthetically appealing. Something like Survs, Flickr, or anything from 37signals, but for academic advisors.
At the recent NACADA National Conference, Joshua Barron, a super tech savvy advising colleague, debuted an open source academic advising management system. I wasn’t able to attend the conference, but it turns out that Joshua is looking for collaborators for this new system.
My dream academic advising system would include: integration with university student information system, note taking, built in credit articulation, appointment scheduling, assessment functionality, degree audits, future course planning/forecasting, and more!
Basically, I am fed up with paper-based advising systems. And, please note that document management is not the solution. Scanning in a bunch of paper files is not my idea of high-tech.
Here are some notes regarding the system that Joshua presented at NACADA:
Continue reading Academic Advising Management System
Academic advisors tend to get cold sweats over this type of thing. Fortunately, the institution where I work has a pretty solid degree audit system that is bulwarked by a solid system of humans. Class substitutions and transfer course equivalencies are part of my daily routine. Plus, I have my abacus at the ready in case of emergencies.
The American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers found that West Virginia University awarded 288 degrees despite discrepancies in credit requirements.
The investigation began in the wake of a degree scandal at the University in which Heather Bresch, Gov. Joe Manchin’s daughter, was inappropriately awarded an Executive Master’s in Business Administration degree.
Along with Bresch’s degree, AACRAO Consulting found that 27 students in the WVU College of Business and Economics, and 261 additional undergraduate degrees either fell short of credits or had other discrepancies.
Degree requirement discrepancies stemmed from several sources, said Jonathan Cumming, assistant vice president of Graduate Education. The discrepancies originated because the records-keeping process was incomplete. Credit-hour deficiencies could also be due to errors in class substitutions or mistakes made in recording transfer credits.
The mission of AACRAO Consulting’s work at WVU is to “provide professional development, guidelines and voluntary standards to be used by higher education officials regarding the best practices in records management, admissions, enrollment management, administrative information technology and student services,” according to the final report.
The final report from AACRAO Consulting is quite lengthy but it’s worth reading as it provides a lot of insights into what went wrong at WVU. The Registrar’s position at WVU was probably fast-tracked at light speed. The position description is already online! One of the requirements for the position is that your degree cannot be one of the 288….just kidding ;-)
Lastly, I wanted to point out this quote from the AACRAO Consulting report: “Many faculty find the Banner system difficult to use, instead opting to keep records in paper form.”
SunGard Higher Education, ARE YOU LISTENING? The interface for Banner is horrendous. I would say that it’s horrible, but I don’t want to insult horrible! Let it be known that if anyone can create an interface/system that does what Banner does, and is actually friendly to humans, the higher education institutions of the world will grant you immortality and a cash prize!