November 19, 2021
Topic: 
Integrated Academic Operations

Is Your Academic Planning Software Growing with You?

It's no secret that colleges and universities have transformed over the past few decades. Institutions continually develop new programs for merging labor market demands. Programs are delivered in different ways - some through distance learning, shortened formats, or with new experiential learning elements. The student population is also changing. A more diverse population of students are enrolling in higher ed than ever before. However, one aspect of higher ed has not kept up with these changes - technology.

While consumers are streaming content, receiving personalized online shopping recommendations, and checking in online for doctor's appointments, higher ed administrators still don't have modern-day academic planning software that serves their needs. Administrative processes involve shuffling paper, keeping track of countless email chains, and coordinating spreadsheets from all over the institution. Mark Britton, Registrar at Ashland University put it best:

"So many of our systems within education are focused on the way education used to be. You had classes all start and end on the same day. All classes were in a classroom with chalk boards. Since then, we've invented different schedules, terms, ways of delivering information."

However, it doesn't have to be this way. Academic operations solutions can help administrators manage their curriculum, catalog, and course scheduling seamlessly. Outside of reducing the administrator headache from manual data entry and disparate processes, institutions can help achieve other initiatives including:

  • Hire more strategic-focused staff: finding top talent is often a challenge for institutions. High-quality job seekers aren't drawn to jobs that require tedious, manual data entry that requires significant time but little thought.  Removing this element for daily job staff responsibilities allows staff to focus on more strategic initiatives that align with the institution's goals.
  • Eliminate reliance on other administrative units: current technology often requires IT to maintain aging systems and create workarounds to address needs that can't be addressed within the system. Administrators rely on the institutional research unit to pull and provide them with data to help inform decision-making.
  • Focus on student success: administrators can move beyond just creating a schedule, curriculum, and catalog that work, but executing ones with student success at the forefront. For example, institutions can use data to understand which courses students need to stay on track and create a schedule that optimizes for the needs of students. This includes offering the right number of sections, ensuring critical courses aren't offered at the same time, and creating a schedule that meets the needs of certain student populations (e.g., commuter students, students with caregiving responsibilities).

While adopting new technology solutions can be intimidating, it's vital for administrative processes to keep up with the transformation of the rest of the institution.

"The thought of switching platforms can be daunting, but you have to ask yourself what have you compromised with your current vendor? What practices and solutions have you said ok we'll do it that way but you really don't like it? We forget that there are other ways we can do it." - Jennifer Creech, AVP for Student Success and Registrar at Chaminade University

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