“Removing inefficiencies and tedious manual reporting, and incorporating the preferences and needs of the faculty, makes for a really efficient environment.”
Laguna College of Art and Design (LCAD) is a private liberal arts institution for students pursuing professional education in the fine, visual, or performing arts. Nestled in the foothills of Laguna Beach, a city home to many artists and galleries, its 800 students derive inspiration from the natural scenery. They are also one of Coursedog’s earliest institutional partners.
Laura Patrick, LCAD’s Registrar and Director of Institutional Research, has seen the college double in FTE since she first joined the institution in 2006. In her role she wears a number of hats, engaging with students, faculty, and staff, enabling her to have visibility into the impact processes have across campus. Laura has been heavily involved in the Coursedog implementation, from the decision making process through the post-implementation phase. Her role is now largely focused on leveraging the system to aid in scheduling and data-driven decision making, and collaborating with Coursedog to ensure the institution’s goals are met.
Prior to Coursedog, LCAD built their schedule by hand, manually entering data into their SIS and relying on spreadsheets. Due to a number of variables influencing scheduling, manually assigning times and rooms became an increasingly large feat. LCAD’s location in a canyon, and their growing enrollment numbers, resulted in burgeoning resource constraints that demanded proactive approaches to avoid downstream issues.
“...the question we always get asked is space. We have limited space and if you need to rent additional space, you've got to get out ahead of it. We've never been able to quantify it, and Coursedog really helped us get the data that's required in our data driven environment."
Another factor that added additional complexity to the scheduling process was the fact that 90% of their faculty work part-time. As a result, section time assignments must take into account faculty availability, which can be an error-prone effort when unable to be done automatically.
"...one of the biggest reasons we chose Coursedog was the preference forms where I could collect (faculty) availability and have it within the database while I'm working to make sure I am abiding by what they need."
These challenges led leadership to realize that a more data-driven, efficient approach to scheduling was needed.
Laura was initially hesitant to explore scheduling software as she had prior experiences with clunky user interfaces, and difficult to use platforms in the space. However, Coursedog’s intuitive interface and insights into room utilization and space availability helped to make partnering with Coursedog an easy decision.
“(Coursedog) was definitely more intuitive. It's a fairly easy system to use and the number one reason that we went with the system is to know how much space we have and how much space we need. Now, we're able to actually quantify our space numbers presented to the Board and easily make a case for additional space. I can go, well, we're using 72 percent of our space on these days, or we've got space here.”
Additionally critical to the evaluation process was the ability to get her hands on a sandbox environment, to test the platform and visualize LCAD’s data in the system.
“(evaluating vendors) is more about action for me, let me see what the product can do. I need to see your bells and whistles, I don't want to just hear them. It's important to have a sandbox to play in and feel before making a decision on anything.”
As Coursedog seeks to make the sales process as transparent as possible to ensure continued alignment and success, sandbox environments are shared with institutions so that they can make more informed decisions around whether Coursedog is a good fit.
Coursedog and LCAD worked closely to ensure that the software helped to address LCAD’s needs to build better schedules for students, meet faculty preferences, save administrators time, and enhance insights into their data. They collaborated on the SIS integration in order to populate data in Coursedog from PowerCampus that would allow them to reduce manual data entry and fuel live enrollment metrics during registration.
“What is really helpful is that I was able to utilize Coursedog to very effectively watch my caps and my rooms “
Coursedog and LCAD additionally partnered on developing room reporting functionality that replaced tedious, manual reporting outside of Coursedog, and continues to benefit LCAD and other institutions during scheduling.
“We wanted a report that was the way we had always done business and needed to share (the data) in a particular format. And (the Coursedog team) said, I'll get it to you. It’s not exactly an easy report and they did a little magic."
LCAD also migrated their historical preference form survey to Coursedog, enabling them to consolidate communications and streamline processes.
“I think the best thing that we've seen so far is not having to do individual calls to faculty, “Hey what is your availability,” and (following up) when they change or tweak it. Getting that automated, that's a huge thing.”
With Coursedog, LCAD was able to reduce human-error during scheduling through Coursedog’s automated rule enforcement and reporting functionality.
“It's easy in our line of work to double book a room or double book a faculty and all of a sudden you've got 36 kids enrolled in something and you say, I'm just kidding, you can't take that class at that time. (Coursedog ) is just a more streamlined, efficient, clear process. And I think that is money in the bank for our business needs.”
They also found a long-term design partner in Coursedog.
“I am very fortunate coming in early into (Coursedog’s) development and feeling like they were incorporating what I was saying was needed for the industry. And even now they're still doing that and really refining and listening to clients that they're serving to find out what they can do to really make (Coursedog) even better.”
Overall, Laura defined her and LCAD’s definition of success as helping students to succeed and graduate on time:
“We're always looking to how can we help the students succeed and graduate in four years. Really it’s the reason that we do what we do. Building the schedule isn’t as exciting in and of itself. Having the students get that schedule so they can go and do what they need to do at the end is the most critical part of what we do.”