Over August, representatives from all 9 schools whom we’ve interviewed reiterated that the current process for tracking the progress of a student to completing a degree has been a big task. Currently, students find it difficult to traverse through the subjects, majors and electives to determine the correct path to help them graduate on time. Currently, Business Analysts from some schools would need to run Discoverer reports for Deans, DAPs and ACAs to see what particular student groups are enrolled in and how they are going to determine which students need progression advice.
Professor Michele Simons, Dean - School of Education, dreams of a time when “students can come to us and we can help set them up on their path from the start and be able to track how they’re going through their degree. This would make it easier for us to report to NSW Department of Education how many prospective Maths eligible teachers we are expecting to graduate (for example) from a certain year and at the same time, set a clear track for the students from the get go.”
Banner and the associated systems contains functionality that will support academic and professional staff to better guide students on their academic journey. The core capabilities that can be delivered are:
Program rule definition – The program completion rules and subject requirements can be defined within the solution so students see all their program specific subjects they need to take
Progress tracking – Students and their academic advisors will be able to view a student's program audit which will allow easy viewing of what subjects they have completed and what subjects they should register for next to be able to graduate with the degree that they plan to pursue
GPA Calculator – to allow students to easily track whether they are hitting the marks that they are aiming for
‘What If’ view – allows students and their academic advisors to see how changing majors, dropping subjects or choosing a different degree would affect their time of graduation
Study Planner – allows students, with the help of their advisors, to plan the subjects to be undertaken and sequencing of their degree to help them through their paths to succeed in their chosen career from the start, or at any point in their study journey.
These functionalities are currently being set up and tested in our test environment and the project team can already foresee improvements these functions can drive in the progression, graduation, degree tracking and student accountability space.
Our Practice Adoption team has ventured out to talk to Schools Managers about our future SMS to further understand how Schools currently use Callista. The team asked questions about reporting, impacts that will prevail around subject code changes and explored ideas for how the project can support and guide them through the process of change. The feedback obtained will allow our team insight into opportunities and risks to be considered during the implementation of Banner. We will be working further with School Managers to plan activities to mitigate the impacts they have identified.
Common themes that were raised across the schools were:
the timing of using new subject codes & terminologies - needed earlier than Go Live to update all artefacts managed by schools
September 2020 Go Live is as good a time as any
the need to update communications going to accrediting bodies, partner schools and other external partners to reflect the equivalencies from old to new subject codes
We acknowledge the contribution already received from Deans, Directors, DAP’s, ACA’s and School Managers Across 9 Schools, Centres and Institutes over the past months. Their input has been pivotal in capturing features and benefits of the Banner system, as well as highlighting pain points in the current Callista system.
The Practice Adoption team has learnt a lot from these meetings with School Managers and appreciate the integral role School Managers play in our change journey. We are aware that the SMS project is not the only change that will impact Schools and we are committed to working together to ensure our stakeholders are ready and able to adopt our new SMS.
It is timely to remember that, ‘change is a process, not an event’.
Stakeholder Focus || Assoc.Prof. Ana Hol
1. When did you first hear about the new Student Management System (SMS) Project?
I first heard about the SMS project in late 2016. At the time project was quite new, yet immediately I saw opportunities. Our current systems require updates and seamless processing. To me, this seemed to be a great opportunity to improve the current systems that support student operations and data management. Successful system operations require input from system experts as well as the system users. Considering, I saw this to be an opportunity to engage Information Systems students as they could provide feedback based on the current systems they utilise, they could also provide the input to what they saw was required for the new system to function well and could also in later stages of the development engage with the SMS team as system testers, change leaders and educators particularly for students who will have to transition between the current and the new systems.
2. What does the new SMS implementation mean to your school?
New SMS will provide new opportunities for both students and staff. It will give students opportunities to seamlessly navigate the system and manage their student lifecycle. It is anticipated that it will also allow students to easier manage and track their enrolment, finance, assessments, progression, subject selections and even assist them to easier identify possible specialisation and even create their own study plans while incorporating all key components of their degrees.
For staff it is expected that the new system will bring change and would allow them to easier manage student processes as well as assist students with the course selection, enrolment, progression, advanced standings, transfers, graduations and would furthermore provide access and the alignment to the student support services as well as the extra-curricular activities students could undertake so student advisors could provide timely and well-informed advice.
3. Give us your TIP for successful technology implementation?
One of the key strategies would be to:
continue to engage and keep all system users on board before, during and post system implementation. It is essential for the system users to be engaged and to have the opportunities to provide feedback and where suitable input that could guide the future developments.
For example, so far there were three cohorts of Information Systems and Deployment subject students who have by now engaged with the ITDS teams. Students who were a part of the project experience have felt valued and appreciated. As users they were able to provide feedback and identify what system components currently work well and what would need to be improved in time to come. As future Information Systems experts they were also able to identify and create prototypes for some possible system improvements. They see that the new system has fantastic opportunities to benefit future student generations. They are also seeing that as young professionals they are able to engage with the industry teams, learn from them while studying, provide own suggestions and input to future system functionalities and also receive feedback directly from the ITDS team.
For students, this is a fantastic opportunity to engage with the industry and learn from them. As a part of the engagement with the SMS team students are also working on the transitioning processes. In the future it is expected that Information Systems Deployment and Management students who engaged with the SMS team will be able to assist and guide the students who will be required to make a transition from the current to the new system.
4. How do you prepare for change?
It is essential to get everyone on board and engage all parties early on so teams are prepared for the change. We have already started doing this by engaging students with the new SMS, particularly, Information Systems Deployment and Managements students. Two years ago, a cohort of students looked into single sign on implementations. Last two years students have been working on the SMS specifically. Allowing students to embrace change as the primary users of the system is hugely important. This allows for their ideas and suggestions to be heard.
Thank you for your feedback
A survey was sent to all those who have registered to come to the Campus Roadshows to find out how they feel about the new reporting system and how they’d like to stay in touch with the project’s progress. Results show (Figure1) that 47% of our respondents can’t wait to use our new reporting tool – Argos - and think it will be great and 41% want to find out more about it. Luckily, all interested end-users can now start to experiment with Argos by accessing the tool in our testing environment. If you would like to access Argos please contact us at SMSproject@westernsydney.edu.au.
We also asked our attendees was their preferred way of getting updates about the SMS Project. Their top 4 preferred modes are
Staff from the SMS Project team and ITDS attended the Ellucian User Conference on 2nd and 3rd September. The conference provided an opportunity to hear about Digital Transformation in Higher Education and the importance of the student experience. We also heard about the updates that are coming for Banner as well as the roadmap for enhancements that will be happening in the next 12 months. The conference provided opportunities to hear from other institutions who currently use Banner. Whilst most institutions are upgrading from Banner 8 to Banner 9, it was great to hear about their experiences and it provided us with some valuable insights.
Kathy Piestrzynski, Practice Adoption Manager for the SMS Project led one of the breakout sessions around our approach to Practice Adoption and Getting Fit for Change. It provided participants with a wealth of information that could be taken back and applied to their own projects. It was great to see that we’re on the right track with our approach to adoption of our new SMS.
RUOKDay with a Master
Our RUOKDay celebrations was led by Master John Tooby who donated his time to the team with a great motivational talk about teamwork, healthy mental attitude, goal setting and of course a whole team hug for moral support.See it on yammer.
Master John has 41 years martial arts experience, 8th Dan Black in Karate, Director ISKA (International Sports Karate Association), Inductee – World Karate Union Hall of Fame & Australasian World Martial Arts Instructor of the year, Founder & Grand Master Toodokan Self Defence Academy, as well as team motivator.
Master John shared stories, experiences and tricks of the trade in areas of creating motivation and remaining motivated, finding work/life balance, how a positive mindset sets you up for success, the importance of wellbeing, the overwhelming importance of self-reflection, recognising and celebrating your strengths, working as a team, accepting change and how to prepare one-self and a team for change readiness.
The highlight of the session was a team building exercise of breaking boards together (karate style). Pairing up , we were demonstrated the ideal technique, wrote something on our board that resonated with what we'd like to ‘break through’ in our lives, and in one strong determined movement, we all broke our boards with our elbow.
The team was captivated by Master John and felt that the session was very authentic and gave people the opportunity to see the mindset that enables people to self-actualize and achieve their goals.