AACRAO joined forces with longtime partner CollegeSource in 2019 to create a searchable database of institutional policy. This project is now ready for release and we’re excited to give our AACRAO members a sneak peek of what they can expect from the database.
Higher Ed Policy Central gives AACRAO members the ability to explore, compare, and analyze institutional policies from a wide range of sources. This tool is expected to assist policy writers, researchers, and AACRAO members as a whole.
From Idea to Implementation
With more than 900 catalogs from over 800 institutions creating a searchable policy database was a significant endeavor. New processes, tools, and automations needed to be created to facilitate the work. Establishing the specific needs, resources, and aims of the project was also necessary as both CollegeSource and AACRAO worked to ensure the policy database met the needs of the AACRAO Community.
Some of the initial questions asked prior to starting the project included:
What is (and isn’t) a policy?
Do we collect only “academic” policies?
How often do we collect?
Where do we start collecting?
Can any of the data collection be automated?
And many more
In his presentation, CollegeSource president Troy Holaday noted that “What is exciting about this tool is not ‘bells and whistles’ its what it does…there are some really basic needs that are being met by this (database) and we’re going to keep it clean and straightforward as much as possible because we know it’s just about getting to the information” referencing that a larger focus was put into the functionality of the tool over the initial design.
What You Can Do
Users will be able to search the database from a couple of different approaches. One approach is hierarchical, by city, region, institution, etc. This methodology will allow users to narrow down their search from the top-down or general to specific. The other approach is to search the database policy texts for keywords, similar to a traditional search method, this approach allows users to narrow their search through a variety of filters.
Once a user has found the policy, or policies, that they are searching for they will be able to save those for future reference or export them as a pdf or spreadsheet.
As users begin to utilize, research, and explore the database both AACRAO and CollegeSource encourage feedback on functionality, usage, and anything else that will help us improve the platform. Join the email list for first notice of when this AACRAO member benefit goes live this summer.