Despite the changes buffeting higher education — from shifting student demographics and learning outcomes to disruptive technologies — the one constant has been a focus on student success. Institutions are exploring innovative solutions to identify at-risk students and implement early prevention programs.
After a burst water pipe threatened to destroy thousands of student records at the University of Oklahoma College of Arts and Sciences, what began as a digitization project quickly grew into an initiative to revamp the university’s advising methodology. As the largest school at the university with 28 departments, 50 majors and over 7,000 students, the college wanted to improve communication between students and advisers while reducing administrative burden on staff.
Previously, the college had very paper-heavy processes to manage student records and academic advising, leading to challenges compiling information necessary for advisors to assist students or for the Academic Services Office to ensure seniors met the requirements for graduation. Documentation had to be gathered from multiple departments and locations, and were sometimes misfiled or lost.
These time and labor-intensive processes created bottlenecks that delayed students getting the help they needed. Determined to improve services, the college leveraged Laserfiche enterprise content management (ECM) system to implement mobile advising for students.
By implementing workflow automation technology to reengineer its academic advising process, the college:
- Saved $20,000 by eliminating costs associated with paper management and filing
- Enabled mobile access to student records via iPads, allowing advisers more flexibility to meet with students in-person and conduct remote group sessions
- Empowered students with online access to documents making it easier for them to keep track of their academic progress
The reengineered process has also improved communication between students and advisors. Students can submit forms and requests online and receive automated email notifications for status updates, and advisors are able to meet with students anywhere on campus to review their academic progress and associated documents via iPads. Staff members are also empowered to be more productive and efficient, as they are able to work seamlessly between locations and devices to process student requests.
"This improvement in efficiency has greatly benefited my students as I have been able to reduce the turnaround time for e-mail correspondence, forms, phone calls, and voicemails. By doing so, I better serve my students with each interaction," says LaRee Saunders, an academic counselor at the college.
Replicating the success in the College of Arts and Sciences, the University of Oklahoma has expanded its Laserfiche implementation to a number of other business units and schools across campus, including admissions, the Honors College, the College of Education, the athletics department, and legal counsel.
The university leverages a shared services model, with the central IT department supporting the ECM system campus-wide, which allows the university to minimize costs and create a user community to share skill sets and best practices to continue driving student success.
Grace Ding is a Higher Ed Marketing Specialist at Laserfiche.