Jennifer Edmonds, Associate Dean of the Jay S. Sidhu School of Business and Leadership at Wilkes University, successfully rolled out Activity Insight to her faculty in late October. Edmonds credits the rollout’s success to a focus on reporting faculty wanted, which drove user adoption. It’s a strategy she learned from other DM clients at User Group 2017.
Wilkes and Digital Measures
Wilkes University was founded as Bucknell University’s junior college in 1933, and has since become a four-year university serving 2,500 undergraduate and 2,200 graduate students at its Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania campus and online. The Jay S. Sidhu School of Business and Leadership opened in 2004. The business school signed on with Digital Measures in summer of 2017.
Faculty Focus Fosters Buy In
One of the reasons Wilkes implemented Activity Insight is to take a leap forward by working toward Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) accreditation. But that wasn’t the focus of her rollout to faculty. “At User Group, I had the opportunity to hear what does and doesn’t work,” Edmonds said. “Presenters shared successful ways to get faculty onboard by sharing the right message.”
“We’re a smaller school and fairly balanced in terms of junior, senior and super-senior faculty, which means we had our share of faculty resistant to activity reporting,” Edmonds said. When User Group peers cautioned against using accreditation to promote usage, Edmonds appreciated the wisdom of their recommendations. “I’m the one responsible for accreditation reporting. So to talk about that would be asking faculty to do something that only helped me,” she said.
Instead, Edmonds thought back to conversations with faculty. “Every year we go to these events where the university president talks about all of the other colleges. Why was he always singing the praises of these schools? Because we didn’t document our activities and report them in a way that the president could share them,” Edmonds said. “So I said to faculty, ‘Remember when we went to convocation last year and heard about the research and guest speakers other faculty brought into the college? Let’s do this so we can share your story.’”
Then she made the case that Activity Insight could be customized to capture activities like bringing in guest lecturers and contact hours on service projects. “I wanted them to see how doing this would allow us to tell the story of great teaching and robust processes in the school of business,” Edmonds said.
Faculty Embrace the Advantages
Now that the system is in place, faculty members now have an automated annual reporting that allows them to more efficiently prepare their annual report. “Faculty identified this advantage themselves,” Edmonds said. She structured small-group training sessions to walk faculty through using the system. “As we went screen by screen, faculty could say, ‘We do a lot of this, where would we enter it?’ By the end, most faculty said they thought using the system was easy and straightforward.”
Training sessions ended with introducing the annual report, which faculty were encouraged to try. “We had faculty click on the reporting link so they could see what happened,” Edmonds said. “When they clicked on it, they said, ‘This is really powerful!’ In a very short time, everyone was onboard.”
For Wilkes faculty, it completed the circle. “Faculty understood how their data could be used, and how they can now use it themselves,” Edmonds said.
Reporting Beyond AACSB
Faculty now have enough data in system, so Edmonds is creating reports that summarize across faculty to showcase their activities. “They’re reports about things we care about that aren’t about accreditation, but sharing the story for things like convocation,” Edmonds said. She considers the annual report the biggest home run for her faculty.
Edmonds is now focused on creating more reports that share her faculty’s accomplishments, and on tracking business engagement in the community. “We want to bring the business community in to our programs through guest lectures, job fairs, sessions for companies to do interviews, and we’re looking for a way to capture that,” Edmonds said. “And we want to update reporting on our strategic plan to show data, rather than just generally reporting that we did well.”
The Power of Community
Edmonds first logged into Activity Insight in July and launched to faculty in late October. It was a fast implementation, “but it didn’t feel fast, it felt like the right pace. ” Edmonds said. “I think that’s because I had an opportunity to hear what does and doesn’t work from peers at User Group. Everything I listened to, every person I met, every conversation I had added so much value.”
Edmonds appreciated the personal touch at User Group. “I’ve been to conferences where you’re there to learn about a platform, but they’re not designed to help you buy in. You just learn about it and go home,” she said. “User Group is about who Digital Measures is and what you think is important, so I got to know people on an individual level, which makes my relationship with your platform very different.”
Are you interested in sharing your faculty’s stories? We’re here to help you turn faculty activity data into the stories matter—and the reports you need. Contact us today to learn more.