"Working with a very old Word document, we knew that at any moment we could have a big crash...We needed something more efficient."
Like many schools, DBU managed their university catalog manually in a Word document, which they would convert into a PDF and host on the university's website. "We could edit and include notes coming from curriculum committee or faculty council," Mindy Barrett, DBU's Director of Institutional Effectiveness, explains.
They realized that doing so wasn't sustainable. "It became the sole responsibility of our web team to make all of these small changes to the website; we would have to send in a request, and then it would go through extensive proofing. It was just a very time-intensive process that became un-manageable. Not to mention that working with a very old Word document, we knew that at any moment we could have a big crash."
Yet administrators were not the only ones the problem burdened; students struggled to access consistent, accurate course information. "There were always so many issues because so many hands were involved; the catalog would go out for proof while things weren't exactly right."
DBU resolved that they needed a more efficient, practical solution. Coupled with similar administrative challenges in course and event scheduling, and curriculum management, the University partnered with Coursedog for its accessible, all-in-one platform. Given the extent to which these processes are intimated with one another, it made sense to select a vendor that could offer an integrated ecosystem for the school's administration.
The implementation constituted a collaborative effort between DBU and Coursedog to establish a common vision, project timeline, and responsibility allocation.
It began with functional training and design coordination to ensure that the end product would align with DBU's expectations, and then proceeded to a Coursedog-led scraping effort in order to transition course, program, and degree information from plain text to Coursedog. Finally, we structured the catalog to make it as useful to students as possible, and built approval workflows that wold effectively automate changes when necessary.
"The implementation was magnificent," the DBU team shared. "We were able to meet the deadlines we'd set and there was no way we would have been able to do that without the support of the entire Coursedog team."
DBU now has a cloud-hosted, digital catalog that is maintained seamlessly, updates instantaneously, and ensures administrators and students that information is consistent, accurate, and accessible.
"It's fabulous because program directors can send in a request, and we can let them see whether or not the change was has been made, [or] if the change wasn't made, why it wasn't." All in one platform.
The DBU team also reflected on the current reality of the pandemic: "If we were using the process we had before, it'd be totally unworkable...Coursedog makes it more practical for people to be able to access anywhere; it's a much more efficient solution."
DBU has also used Coursedog to leverage information that would have been otherwise unavailable to them. Through Coursedog's Google Analytics integration, DBU has begun to track page views and traffic on specific catalog pages, "feedback that program directors can use to determine how well programs are being marketed or even the effectiveness of the program itself."