faculty expertise profiles

Faculty Expertise Profiles with University of Texas, El Paso and University of Washington

Faculty web profiles are the traditional way to share faculty data on a public website, and it’s a use case that works perfectly with Activity Insight. Faculty expertise profiles are the evolution of faculty web profiles. The biggest benefit of faculty expertise profiles is that they are more easily searchable for relevant parties, putting data into users’ hands faster and easier.

This post shares the experience of using Activity Insight to create faculty expertise profiles. Didier Hernandez, Office of the Provost, represented The University of Texas, El Paso, and Jan Boyd, Faculty Data Services Specialist from the University of Washington Information School, joined the conversation. Digital Measures Product Manager Kirby Fitch shared some knowledge from his perspective as well.

Background

The University of Texas, El Paso and the University of Washington Information School shared similar circumstances, as explained by Boyd and Hernandez. Each had an existing system that highlighted faculty expertise, but wanted to replace or enhance it using Activity Insight.

The University of Washington Information School (UW iSchool) launched Activity Insight in late 2010. Around the same time, the school was replacing its existing internal web directory, so the projects coordinated well. In May 2012, the new UW iSchool web directory was launched, with faculty profiles and areas of expertise fed by Activity Insight data.

The University of Texas, El Paso had long invested in sharing faculty expertise. Before signing on with Digital Measures, the university already had an extensive site, Expertise Connector, dedicated to sharing knowledge and expertise, connecting faculty and students, fostering research opportunities and more. One of Activity Insight’s primary roles for Hernandez was to simplify the flow of information into Expertise Connector.

UW iSchool Implementation

When Boyd began the project of implementing faculty expertise profiles within Activity Insight, she initially struggled to determine the correct fields or areas of expertise to include. The faculty wanted so many options that the list ended up being overwhelming and not useful.

The project’s focus changed when the new Associate Dean of Research took interest in the project. Her first question when reviewing the current data and fields was, “Who is the intended audience for these areas of expertise?”

There were multiple answers to that question, so Boyd and her team chose to categorize the areas of expertise into four buckets:

  • A “Research Area” section of the website, pulled from a field added to Activity Insight
  • A notation by faculty members who are willing to take on PhD students, pulled from another new field in Activity Insight
  • All faculty names by teaching area on the Academics portion of the website, pulled from Activity Insight data
  • A list of experts for media and external needs

Boyd shared that her team was still in progress releasing this new functionality in collaboration with a new school website scheduled to launch in late 2016 or early 2017.

University of Texas, El Paso Implementation

The University of Texas, El Paso already had a comprehensive faculty expertise and knowledge sharing system in place with their Expertise Connector website. The site had a searchable element and was accomplishing the goals the university wanted.

Where Activity Insight comes into the picture is in the data part of that system. Before integrating with Activity Insight, Expertise Connector needed to pull from several different sources to populate all the data. This included many different databases, along with manual data entry. The process was complex and cumbersome.

By using Activity Insight, Hernandez and his team were able to pull most Expertise Connector data from one source. Either Activity Insight had the data needed, or it could automatically pull from necessary databases, streamlining the data flow into Expertise Connector.

Now that the project is running smoothly, Hernandez’s team has plans to expand the use of Activity Insight throughout the campus.

Have you been using Activity Insight to support faculty expertise profiles at your university? We’d love to hear your story—please comment below. If you’re interested in learning more about this topic, let’s talk. Contact your Digital Measures Solution Specialist today.

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