Why Do Student Information Systems Make It So Difficult to Address Student Mobility?

When institutions and software companies began to design and implement student information systems decades ago, they served single institutional practices. The requirements were generally drawn to satisfactorily convert the paper-based work flows employed by decentralized administrative and academic departments.

Even though we speak of higher education as a system, it really is a loosely defined marketplace of institutions all doing their own thing, their own way. Their diversity is the strength of higher education. However, a lack of coordination and shared services across the system is important to analyze and understand. We talk about transforming higher education as if it were monolithic, but it isn’t. As a result, advocating for systematic improvements, whether they are voluntary, or market driven, takes us down a long path.

From the 1960s through Y2K, we saw a wide adoption of student information systems by all higher education institutions. As adoption grew and requirements broadened, we saw a range of commercial, home grown, and open source platforms emerge.

Over time, student information systems evolved from main-frame, mini-computer, networks, client server, and now to the internet. Multiple institutions began to share student information system purchases, while retaining a segregation of data and how it is processed. With this approach, came the need for shared services and digital utilities that could address identity, storage, and secure shared access.

Given institutional autonomy and governance, student information systems reflected and retained segregation by design. This led to barriers addressing the growing trends in student mobility as transfer, study abroad, online and nontraditional learning alternatives expanded.

The higher education industry has been advocating to address the limits imposed by student information systems

Dependencies on local repositories, workflows and functionality remain. The burden of duplication embedded in practices is the friction that causes resistance and confusion.

Yet, institutions do not need to resign themselves nor accept the external manual methods that are utilized to address the events and activities triggered by student mobility.

AcademyOne's software and technology products are designed to tackle the limitations of outdated student information systems. They reduce the complexity, burdens and costs of addressing student mobility and academic credit portability.

Pre-Internet Student Information Systems Constraints

Registration Services

College transfer, guidance, enrollment, prior learning recognition, reverse transfer, study abroad, and assessment practices require access to and verification of information hidden in other institutional student management systems.

The lack of real-time services between institutions impacts the effort and steps necessary to verify learning claims of students on the move. These steps force administrative functions to match the paper transcripts or PDF files that an institution receives. Once matched, the Registrar's office or their proxy must enter the student's academic information and verify the authenticity of documentation.

Follow-up effort, such as verification of completion, further burdens institutions who must repeat the match-up and entry processes. The reevaluation of pathways, course equivalencies and applicability to specific majors, if not triggered when a student petitions for credit, will have to be performed when their degree or graduation audit is performed. The delay further complicates guidance, the preparation of study plans and completion validation.

Spanning Multiple Student Information Systems

spanning institutional systems

AcademyOne's products integrate varied student information systems to augment success initiatives. They provide single sign-on (SSO) access to academic history locked in the student information system transcript, access to an inventory of available guided pathways, and real-time progress checking.

Learners desire and need improved guidance, especially as they bridge multiple institutions. They need help mapping sources of learning or experiences to requirements with real-time progress checks that minimize credit loss and lead to student success.

Institutions want the ability to quickly build and promote new pathways that recognize internal and external sources of learning and competencies using established and authoritative methods of assessment.

Automating Guided Pathways

guided pathway

Prospective learners feel emboldened when using an award-winning interface that brings together their academic history. Using single sign-on (SSO), they can seamlessly import their prior learning.

"OMG! I just tried the import of courses. AND it worked! Wow!" - A Shared Portal Student User

Learner Center E-Portfolio

Learner Center with Academic History

AcademyOne's framework of integrated products provide a secure and authenticated access to information, documents and data that is often stored across decentralized student information systems. Institutions who have implemented our solutions enjoy a competitive advantage over those that can't offer prospective students "what if" and "transfer check" functionality. They often advocate for a multi-institutional portal solution with partner institutions to leverage the loosely coupled integration methods we provide to adopt better digital services without being locked into a SIS vendor.

Shared Technology Infrastructure and Applications

Guided Pathway Platform

Explore AcademyOne's higher education solutions, products and services. Contact us to discuss your thoughts, questions, challenges and opportunities.