Manage My Program: How SDI is Changing the Way Students Complete Their Degrees | Systems Development | Kent State University

Manage My Program: How SDI is Changing the Way Students Complete Their Degrees

 

It’s no secret that college is difficult. But changing your program of study to adapt to your developing interests shouldn’t be. Still, there are many different rules about what students can and cannot do when it comes to changing their program.

 

For this reason, in October of 2016 Systems Development and Innovation decided something’s got to give. In a project sponsored by The Office of the University Registrar, SDI has since re-written the existing workflow, entitled “Change of Program” located on FlashLine, and modified it to the new and improved “Manage My Program” on the Outsystems platform.

 

“The Registrar’s Office asked us...to build some of those rules in and only deliver to a student, based on their selections, what the possibilities were for the selections that they made,” explains Dawn Sharnsky, the Project Manager of Team RadForce, a team of developers within SDI.

 

“This resource pretty much takes all the guesswork out of figuring out what [students] can do with their programs. It knows everything they need to do, pretty much from start to finish,” adds Cory Kourcklas, an Associate Application Developer. “So they’ll only have the things that they need, rather than not being sure and then being bogged down with a bunch of stuff that might not necessarily apply to them.”

 

And that’s certainly true, as the team has worked closely with the Registrar’s Office to work in those rules so that students can figure out what they can and cannot do sooner rather than later. In this way, students will be able to combat uncertainty, and will effectively be able to make more efficient program choices.

 

“It’s real easy from start to finish just for any person to pick it up and kind of use it,” says Kourcklas.

 

That being said, the team tells me that the product does not make advising obsolete. Rather, this highly intuitive tool works in conjunction with advisors to help students request changes and better understand what needs to be done to complete their program.

 

“[MMP] works with the advisors to facilitate the request and carry that out and have it be very effective and efficient…” adds Lisa Lisa Steigmann-Gall, Lead Business Systems Analyst.

 

Its Key New Features Include:

 

  • Preview Page: Students will be provided a preview page before submitting a request for change so there is no uncertainty about what their existing program is and what they are changing it to. The change will be summarized and students will be asked to confirm that they do, in fact, wish to submit a request for change

  • Tracking Progress: Students will be able to track the progress of the request for the change of program process. Additionally, they will have the option to cancel their request from the time they submit it up until it is processed by the Registrar’s Office

  • More Program Information Displayed: Students will have the opportunity to see more of their program information than ever before, such as whether or not a program is 100% online (as fees could be attached if it is), the conferring campuses where particular degrees can be pursued and obtained, and even graduate program information for undergraduate students who aim to pursue graduate school--all to help students make better informed decisions

  • Catalog Year: Students will now be able to select the catalog years that are relevant to the changes they are trying to make

  • Future Terms: Students will now be able to make changes to their program that will be effective in future terms, whereas before changes could only be made for the current term

  • Move Minor Degrees: Students will now have the ability to move minor degrees from one program to another when making a change of program, whereas before a minor had to have its own, separate request for change

  • Concentrations: Students will now be able to select concentrations that are relevant to the changes they are trying to make

  • Preferred Name: MMP will recognize a student’s preferred name if they have selected it through Banner

  • Homepage Communication: If students are not able to change their program, a clear message will be provided on the MMP homepage explaining why

  • Working With Advisors: Advisors will be able to see the same screen that students will see when they submit their request, so students and advisors alike can share a common understanding of any changes being made

  • Athletes and International Students: For athletes and international students, a notification will be sent accordingly to all necessary advisors to double check that a change can, in fact, take place without the students losing eligibility

  • Not Limited to Undergraduate Students: MMP will be applicable not only for students that maintain active undergraduate status, but also for returning students who have taken time off from their program, graduate students, College Credit Plus students, and guest students. Though these students will not be able to make changes to their program through MMP, they will still be able to use the product to view their existing program

  • Graduate Students: Though the change of program process is different for graduate students, they will still be able to view the information for their program. In addition, they will receive a Homepage message explaining how they can change their program if they wish to do so

 

Challenges

 

With all of these features, the new Manage My Program product is definitely something to be excited about. However, developing it was no simple task.

 

Nearly halfway through the project, the team lost an experienced developer, which meant they had to seek help elsewhere--and do so quickly if they wanted to keep the project on track for its earliest completion. Fortunately, with the addition of two new Applications Developers, Cory Kourcklas and Kovan Bavi, who were able to pick up the slack in a short amount of time, the project has been able to stay on track.

 

Additionally, as Manage My Program relies heavily on the data that comes directly from KSU Programs and Banner, gathering that data and ensuring that it is verifiably accurate so that students can make program changes with ease has been particularly challenging.

 

“The curriculum itself gives so many options that it makes those rules underneath extremely complicated,” explains Sharnsky.

 

After all, with more than 30,000 unique undergraduate students attending Kent Main campus alone, one can only begin to appreciate the variations of changes and depth of possibilities that could take place with each individual case.

 

Yet, despite these challenges, the team was still able to engineer an intuitive product.

 

What’s Next?

 

After several insightful student usability sessions as well as extensive feedback from advisors, Systems Development and Innovation has been able to make necessary adjustments and put Manage My Program into its final testing stage now. It will be coming soon to Flashline, though an official release date has yet to be announced.

 

Still, one thing is certain--Manage My Program will surely revolutionize the way students sort through the clutter that is changing a program of study, effectively allowing them to focus on what really matters while they are in college.

 

Be sure to watch out for FlashLine notifications in the future to keep up to date on new projects and developments!