We recently wrapped up our 2016 User Group. Hundreds of our clients from universities around the world joined us in Milwaukee to share best practices about our flagship product, Activity Insight, learn from each other and get actionable advice they could take back to their campus.
In case you weren’t able to make it this year (or if you were in a different session at the time!), we’ll be writing about these presentations in the coming weeks. In this blog, we’re discussing “Life After Implementation,” presented by Mauricia Blackwell, senior manager of faculty data research at American Public University System.
American Public University System (APUS) is a for-profit institution that consists of American Public University and American Military University. APUS provides online education to working adult students, offering over 200 academic programs and all degree levels. APUS is HLC-accredited and recognized nationally as one of the top online education programs.
The institution was founded in 1991 as American Military University, with a goal of providing quality education to military servicemembers and veterans. Over the years, it expanded to serve public service and corporate professionals through American Public University, and APUS was created as the broader system which houses both colleges.
The APUS community boasts over 96,000 students currently, 88% of whom are working adults, with an average age of 33. The institution also features over 2,000 faculty members from around the world, many of whom are also active professionals in their field, and teach remotely.
Life After Activity Insight Implementation
For Mauricia, it was important that her faculty’s use of Activity Insight post-implementation would benefit, not overwhelm them. She stressed that implementation was just the beginning of recognizing the potential of Activity Insight, and post-launch was the real time to evolve the tool according to her university’s needs.
Listening to Faculty & Staff
An essential strategy for Mauricia and APUS was listening and understanding the needs of faculty and staff, and then implementing solutions to meet those needs. For example, faculty receive professional development through the Center for Teaching and Learning department at APUS, and it was important that completion data for these development opportunities was added to faculty profiles. Mauricia’s team developed an efficient process to have the completion data sent to her team, so they could import it into Activity Insight—and then email faculty to let them know when the professional development had been added to their profile. Faculty appreciated that their professional development was showcased on their public website profile, without having to input any data themselves.
Driving Time Savings and Efficiency
A big focus for Mauricia was eliminating manual work wherever she could throughout the university. At the onset of using Activity Insight, she would frequently come across a team or individual managing a process manually or tracking information on a spreadsheet; her goal was to get all of that information into Activity Insight and eliminate ineffective ways of collecting and managing data. Her team found opportunities throughout the institution to streamline processes and reduce manual work:
- The School of Business accreditation took countless hours to manually collect and aggregate the necessary data for AACSB reporting. They created custom reports, and added fields where necessary, to exactly match AACSB specifications, eliminating that manual work.
- APUS has a very competitive rank advancement promotion process, but it was quite disorganized in the past, with faculty supplying data in various formats with differing levels of detail. With Activity Insight, the committee can now pull a custom report to see exactly what they want for each candidate, standardizing and simplifying the process.
- A small team within the university tracks Prior Learning Assessment data, but was having significant data tracking problems, relying on seven different spreadsheets to manage all the information. Mauricia’s team was able to create one screen in Activity Insight and one custom report, to replace all the spreadsheets and greatly streamline the process.
Enter Data Once, Use It Many Times
Mauricia shared that she was determined to use Activity Insight, and the data within it, to fully realize the potential of the system. A few examples of additional ways APUS is using the system include faculty web profiles and using web services to integrate Activity Insight with their HR and performance management systems. Her goal is simple but powerful: show staff and faculty the many utilities and benefits of Activity Insight, to encourage buy-in and adoption.