"Small but mighty" Indiana ACRAO conference inspires new ideas

by Mary Beth Myers, Registrar, Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis

There is a special, cathartic, “difficult-to-describe” feeling that comes from spending dedicated time with colleagues in a casual setting!  Indiana ACRAO continues to be a story of the “Small but Mighty” when it comes to our annual conference. We stand alone since we are not part of a larger, regional AACRAO association but it is in our small and intimate space where we find such significant value in networking, combining significant professional experience and relevance with profound, personal intuition and advice.  It is this combination of the professional and the personal that gives rise to some of the best professional development around!  

It is difficult to characterize what is gained by a side conversation in a chair in a hallway or standing with a group at a poster session or, quite frankly, chatting over cocktails and games at the President Reception or hotel bar.  It is in these settings where we are able to commiserate and confide and confess with individuals who “understand” the business and the struggles and the passion to improve.  It is in these settings where, based on those conversations, someone is likely to step up and say “I might have some advice on that” or “we went through the same thing and now here’s what we’re doing.”  

It is from these deep, thoughtful conversations with colleagues at Indiana ACRAO where attendees from IUPUI left with so much.  We have been the benefactors of extremely useful documentation and training videos to help us really kick start a system for our frontline and campus training (something we have needed for a long time but needed a good nudge to get started).  We are suggesting new ideas to our campus on how we might make our commencement ceremony more fun and engaging -- while still keeping it “short!”  We have connected more strongly with our Commission on Higher Education and our vendors so that, together, we are doing all we can to support Indiana student engagement and success.  And we are in discussions about how we might coordinate or share resources better in an effort to deliver more efficient “in-house” systems and more streamlined business processes.  That defines just a portion of what we gained at Indiana ACRAO and we are confident individuals from every other institution in attendance gained something of value as well, or shared something of value to help others -- or, in most cases, both!  

There have been and always will be new and innovative initiatives and “things to do” in Higher Education.  Systems and processes will continue to go through upgrades and updates.  Student expectations for service will continue to rise.  Campus resources will likely not keep up with the technology possibilities and expectations of our users.  In the end, the one thing that has remained constant in my 30+ years in this profession is the collegial understanding and empathy, the willingness to listen and assist, and the spirit of helping each other through the maze.  It is from these conversations, no matter the specific venue, that we often find the best ideas for delivering our systems and our technologies and our services.   We can’t do it alone.  There are amazing colleagues across this professional whose knowledge and expertise and spirt should not go untapped.  Spend time in these casual “hallway” conversations at your next professional development opportunity and you might be surprised how much you learn!  

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by Josh Hayes, Registrar, University of Indianapolis

Now more than ever, colleges and universities are under pressure to demonstrate their value. This pressure extends to the academic record, from students seeking compelling ways to tell their co-curricular stories to external stakeholders seeking evidence of competencies not easily conveyed on a traditional transcript.  At the 2017 Indiana ACRAO annual conference, Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis registrar Mary Beth Meyers presented an engaging session on how IUPUI’s involvement with AACRAO’s Comprehensive Student Record Project led the university to develop its own comprehensive student record (or CSR) of student learning.  

To complement the traditional academic transcript, IUPUI created the Record of Applied and Experiential Education, a CSR of assessed co-curricular learning that is registrar-authenticated, graphically-rich, integrated with the student information system, and scalable for large, multi-campus university systems.   Developed in partnership with Indiana University’s Information Technology division as well as the institutional centers that oversee co-curricular learning activities, the Record of Applied and Experiential Education is a dynamic CSR that chronicles IUPUI student achievement within six categories:

  • Diversity
  • Service
  • Global Engagement
  • Research
  • Career Development/Internship
  • Leadership

The Record of Applied and Experiential Education utilizes data tables and functionality from the IUPUI’s student information system, PeopleSoft.  In conjunction with institutional centers that oversee activities like study abroad and service learning, staff input pre-approved instances of assessed learning experiences within PeopleSoft.  Once a student completes one of these pre-approved experiences, workflow functionality is utilized to certify completion.  The result is comprehensive, graphically-rich PDF document detailing student achievement in one of the six areas above.  Future plans for the Record of Applied and Experiential Education include the transition to a fully digital document with clickable links to artifacts that document co-curricular learning experiences as well as opportunities for “micro-credentialing” (think digital “badges” in areas like civic engagement) for more focused competency demonstration.

For more details about IUPUI's project, read here.