In a recent post, I briefly discussed a new truism in higher education – something our students implicitly know – that technology, when used appropriately, has great potential for enabling student success. Identifying, developing, deploying and institutionalizing the use of the correct technology is the challenge. Above all, it is important to recognize that technology is an enabling tool supporting new approaches to student success, not driving them.

For several years, UND has been implementing new technologies that were chosen after careful evaluation and review of best practices across academia. Our early assessments indicate that these technologies have driven greater success for students who are striving to reach their ultimate goal of graduation.  From interventions for the student who needs extra help to stay on track, to “one-click” semester scheduling where students easily build timetables that fit with their many demands of class and life, these technologies are working.  Specifically, we have seen the number of students receiving failing and unsatisfactory course grades decrease by 9%.  

I have asked Lisa Burger, Assistant Vice President for Student Academic Affairs, and Scott Correll, University Registrar to provide brief descriptions of two technologies they have employed to enhance the success of our students. 

Lisa says, “Starfish, progress surveys, early alert and midterm deficiencies, flags, and kudos are becoming buzz words on campus these days, as they are a means to positively influence our outreach to students throughout the semester.  Starfish is our new student success technology system and we use it to help identify students that need extra help along their way.  For example, the midterm deficiency notification process, a process we use to notify undergraduate students who receive academic deficiencies at mid-semester, is now managed through the Starfish system.  This spring semester, we achieved encouraging support from faculty with over 70% of whom recorded deficiencies using Starfish.”

Even though the midterm deficiency progress survey for faculty members has come and gone for the semester, the long-term positive impact on identifying those students who are struggling academically continues through the follow-up efforts made by faculty and staff.  The midterm deficiency notifications recorded in Starfish launch a series of outreach and communications to students to help them get back on track and stay on track.  There is power behind the Starfish system and the interventions in place to outreach to students and provide them with the campus resources to help them be successful.  Starfish is just one technology we use at the Student Success Center and we know it is making a difference.”

Scott says:  “College Scheduler, a bolt-on product to Campus Connection, was launched on March 10th.  Beginning with the summer and fall 2017 terms, registration will be streamlined by automating the schedule planning process. Students can easily input preferred courses, block off break times, and instantly generate optimized schedules that maximize credit hours while balancing learning with life. College Scheduler’s rich administrative functionality enables institutions to enhance advising services, fine-tune the master schedule and balance course fill rates.

Founder Robert Strazzarino wrote the first version of College Scheduler as a sophomore at California State University, Chico. By his senior year, over half of the student body was using College Scheduler every semester as were many advisors and administrators. Chico State purchased a yearly license of the software in 2005 and College Scheduler was born.

College Scheduler will eliminate the need to use pencil and paper scheduling.  Students can easily generate all available schedules, compare them side-by-side, and decide on the best fit for their busy lives.  With course information updated in real time, this solution focuses on student success.”