Utilizing Additional Features in Activity Insight to Gain Faculty Buy-In with University of South Dakota

As we mentioned in our last blog, we’re spending some time highlighting a few of the sessions from our recent User Group—an event where hundreds of Activity Insight users descended on Milwaukee to share insights and learn strategies to take back to their institutions.

In this blog we’re highlighting a session presented by Lindsay Hayes of University of South Dakota: Utilizing Additional Features in Activity Insight to Gain Faculty Buy-In. So if you weren’t able to make this year’s User Group, or you just missed this particular session, read on for a summary of the excellent information Lindsay shared.


Founded in 1862, the University of South Dakota (USD) consists of seven schools and colleges, offering 206 undergraduate and 71 graduate programs. The university currently has 7,435 undergraduate and 2,536 graduate students, as well as 62,000 alumni.

USD owns a number of honors, including being named one of America’s “Best National Universities” by U.S. News & World Report for 26 straight years. In addition, with its 453 faculty, the university boasts a student to faculty ratio of 17:1.

Gaining faculty buy-in

As an Activity Insight user since 2011, Lindsay Hayes had a lot to share about gaining faculty buy-in through her role as Coordinator of Student and Institutional Assessment at USD.

One of the biggest points of faculty feedback after USD implemented Activity Insight was that faculty had too little control of the content that automatically posts to the website profiles. Faculty were only entering items in the system they wanted to show up on the public university website, or inputting data for annual reviews then quickly deleting the data after. Of course, neither of these scenarios is an optimal usage of the system, from either a faculty or administrator point of view.

A related faculty concern was that Activity Insight was just another of many systems to upkeep and that there was too much information to input.

Armed with this feedback, Lindsay and her team began creating solutions using additional features within Activity Insight to address these concerns and show the value of the system to drive faculty buy-in.

Giving faculty options

The team started by focusing on  web services. Their first objective was to determine exactly what information was pulling into the public website, and where it was being populated. Lindsay and her team worked with her university’s IT team as well as the Digital Measures team, to understand the data flow and create a standard faculty web profile.

While working on this project, USD’s Digital Measures Solution Specialist suggested a feature Lindsay wasn’t aware of: an include/exclude option. Adding the include/exclude option to faculty information fields gave each faculty member control over what was shown in their public web profile, while allowing them to populate Activity Insight with all of their data. Faculty loved this option, and it solved the biggest problem with faculty buy-in and adoption that Lindsay and her team faced.

Lindsay said, “You don’t know what Activity Insight can do unless you ask—or until you hear someone else’s success story!” She was thrilled with this solution and happy to share with session attendees.

Making it easier for faculty

After Lindsay’s team implemented the include/exclude option to give faculty more control, their next task was addressing the other chief concern: that it was too much information for faculty to input into the system.

Lindsay turned to data uploading and reporting capabilities to tackle this challenge. By exploring Activity Insight’s various data uploading capabilities,the  team found multiple ways to streamline data import and take work off of faculty’s plate. They implemented processes to import faculty course evaluations and course loads, as well as a mass import to add new users to the system.

Lindsay’s team increased efficiency further by building custom reports for use cases like accreditation and faculty evaluations. The ability to create custom reports for almost any scenario added immense value for faculty, staff and administration.

Lindsay’s overall message at the session was that everyone, including faculty, are cautious when it comes to change. However, with all the custom capabilities within Activity Insight, any implementation team can create systems and processes that effectively drive faculty buy-in.

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