student information systems
By: David K. Moldoff

Addressing the Shortcomings of Student Information Systems (SIS) Designed and Implemented for a Different Era

Enrolling in a four year college or university program after high school, satisfying degree requirements and finishing without interruption in four years has not been the norm for sometime. We know, that over 60% of today's enrolled students attend two or more institutions in pursuit of their first college credential. Some begin at a local community college. Others transfer from private to public school. Many return to community college part-time, while they still work. We also know, the average time to degree to earn a 4 year certificate has extended for many learners to well over six years. This reflects the climb in costs and time to earn a credential.

Meanwhile, Student Information Systems employed across the higher education ecosystem were never designed to bridge and align curriculum offerings between institutions, handle alternative forms of learning sources such as military or work experiences, manage the continuum of partnerships institutions now rely on - nor expose the varied academic decision processes that may translate prior learning decisions into course based tracking methods. The aging SIS implementations were never setup to share data, processes or users across institutions. Thus, the entire ecosystem has been absorbing a tremendous amount of duplication, re-entry and one-offs. As a result, higher education is being taxed billions trying to keep their SIS investments afloat while standalone - even though the ancient designs are strangling opportunities to transform and better serve the evolving markets working as a network of institutions.

As the short video "Learning Outcomes: Lost in Transcript-ion" portrays, force fitting all forms of learning into any SIS transcript system is like hammering a square peg into a round hole. There are more effective solutions - which is where AcademyOne comes in. As more and more learners pursue improving their life circumstances, moving to new careers or retooling, institutions are transforming how they serve a greater diversity of learners coming to their doors. They implement eportfolios and online assessment tools outside the scope of the SIS, enabling greater flexibility and support for embracing new sustainable methods that are far easier to manage.

Higher education for decades has been impacted by students moving between institutions before completing their credentials. Whether it is moving from 2-4 year programs, or from 2-2 or 4-4 or 4-2, student transitions often extend the time to a degree and often leave learners frustrated by how their efforts count or not toward completion. More and more learners attend multiple institutions altering their pathways that must consider comparability and applicability of learning sources, timeline and aspirations. This certainly complicates degree completion and mapping learning comparability, applicability and articulation. AcademyOne's core focus addresses the implications of student mobility and the complications of academic credit portability. This has led to ground breaking multi-institutional projects with state agencies and consortium leading to award winning products. It has drawn us to coin the term the "Networked Institution" as one that recognizes the connections with other institutions regionally, through association or related by student flow.

Drawn from our multi-institutional collaborative initiatives targeting the millions who completed some college, but never finished their degree, AcademyOne has engineered institutional processes sharing one automated system, one unified database and integrated tool-set for administrators and faculty. We are one of a few organizations world-wide helping institutions augment degree pathways recognizing prior, current and future learning - not in the SIS, but in a Learner Record designed to support the various forms and sources of learning one may claim and petition for recognition. Our tools stimulate collaboration, respect between institutions and their departments. Our solutions reduce institutional burdens with automation and improved information sharing. This in turn enhances guidance with responsive processes and transparency.