AccuCampus Blog

Engineerica - April Products Update

At Engineerica, we are constantly working to improve our products and services as we want to enrich your experience and provide you with best systems possible. This blog will give you brief updates on our current work.

AccuCampus Ignite

AccuCampus is built to Track, Engage and Retain students at your entire campus.

A couple of weeks ago we showcased AccuCampus at the League of Innovation conference in Maryland. This included a presentation with one of the AccuCampus clients and a 10-minute Ignite presentation. You can view the latter here

 

We’d love for you to take the challenge from our video and tell us your story.  Contact us today to learn how AccuCampus can help your institution.

 

Accudemia Update

A couple of months ago we sent out a survey to Accudemia users to find out what they would like to see improved in the software.  The response has been amazing with close to 350 users filling out the survey.  It took a few weeks to analyze the data and figure out a development plan for Accudemia.  Here are the highlights of this plan:

  • We are releasing the Accudemia upgrade in two phases.  The first phase will update the theme or look of the system, while the second phase will include additional improvements.
  • Phase I involves updating more than 250 project files and will take a total of two months development time and is planned for release at the end of this month.
  • Not only will Accudemia get a transforming facelift after Phase I, but it will also work on smaller screens including mobile devices like tablets and smart phones (with a responsive design).
  • In phase II we will implement the most popular user requests as learned from the survey and other user feedback.  This includes new scheduled reports functionality, better appointment scheduling interface, per-center terminology, and a lot more!

 

AccuTrack / AccuSQL 2019

AccuTrack/AccuSQL is the best tool for academic center management, and we are working hard to make it even better!

Recently we asked AccuTrack/AccuSQL users to complete a survey regarding improvements they want to see in the 2019 upgrade.  We recevied valuable feedback and our developers have already started incorporating.

A popular request is an update the look of the software. We’re a bit partial to the current design, so we’d love some suggestions of specific things we can change to improve the look of AccuTrack/AccuSQL. We invite you to email us your ideas.

 

Conference Tracker

Conference Tracker is a solution for any event planner looking to improve their event/conference and provide an enhanced experience for their attendees and exhibitors.

Our focus is on an update to the ConferenceAttendee app of Conference Tracker.  This app offers numerous benefits to attendees including:

  • A Conference Social Network where attendees can post comments, photos, and files during and after the event.
  • A Conference Guide so attendees have the session descriptions and schedule at their fingertips.
  • An Exhibit guide providing information about conference sponsors, exhibitors, and sales reps.
  • A Notes section for attendees to easily type notes regarding the sessions, speakers, and other important details they don’t want to forget.
  • Feedback Surveys giving attendees a place to rate sessions thereby giving the meeting planners valuable feedback for future event planning.
  • An Electronic Conference Pass for improving conference registration and entry processes.
  • And much more!

If you have an event or conference coming up, contact us for a complimentary walk-through of Conference Tracker.

 

AccuCampus Featured in University Business

We are excited to announce that AccuCampus has been featured in a case study in University Business magazine, one of the largest higher education publications.

This case study discusses how AccuCampus is helping to improve efficiency, student engagement, and data analysis at Cleveland State Community College in Tennessee. Our team is proud of the work we've done with Cleveland State, and we're thrilled to share their story with you.

To read the case study as a PDF, click here. Or, to read it in the December 2017 issue of University Business, click here. As always, if you are interested in learning more in how AccuCampus can help your institution the way we've helped Cleveland State, we encourage you to schedule a personalized demo.

Happy holidays!

Fail-proof Your Retention Model! - Part One

In our travels as consultants for higher educational student success initiatives, Rachel and I come across many ineffective trends in retention models. Our hope is that by sharing what we overcome during our consultations, we will save other colleges and universities from experiencing similar set-backs with their retention efforts.

 

For this blog, we will focus on a common flaw in how retention systems are often modeled in regard to initiating an alert. Traditionally, student retention systems involve a process where faculty members, and occasionally staff members, originate an alert on behalf of a student. The content of the alert is usually concerned with how the student is doing in a specific course. What we find as an issue with this particular part of a traditional model is that the pool of faculty and staff expected to raise alerts is too limited. Only allowing faculty and staff to originate an alert is too limited. Additionally, only alerting students that are doing poorly in a course is also too limited. We believe that if a retention system intends to truly be an effective tool, it should allow more people to raise alerts and alerts should reach out to all students. This broadening of participation should be executed without adding to the level of maintenance.

 

Let’s discuss how these limitations in a traditional model causes issues for retention efforts. By waiting for a professor to raise an alert, the institution misses out on retention opportunities in three main arenas. First, students face a myriad barriers to higher education long before they are seated in an actual classroom. These barriers are not just for first time students but also at the beginning of every semester. Endless factors stack up against students like transportation, funding, coping with being away from home, career decisions, schedules, etc. We miss the opportunity to assist students with overcoming these barriers when we wait for the student to be in a class to raise an alert.

 

Second, professors are not always able to log into yet another system and spend substantial time gathering all of the information about a student in order to complete an alert. Much of the information a professor needs to put in the hands of the student is simply that the professor cares about their success and that there are resources available for the student. Professors, and everyone else for that matter, are often unable to keep up with the constant change in how, when, and to whom a college resource is offered.

 

Thirdly, retaining students should be an effort that focuses on all students, not just those at risk. Additionally, the process should allow all persons in the student’s life to reach out to the student. Parents, counselors, community members, roommates, coaches, etc should be able to raise an alert for a student in need. Connecting all students to resources easily should be the goal of any retention model. Students with high GPAs should be connected with honors programs, students who are athletes should be aware of the locations and offerings at all academic assistance centers, students who have mastered the college transition should be connected with opportunities to mentor their fellow students. Retention should be viewed as an issue that all students face.

 

If your retention model has fallen victim to this pitfall, look for ways to remedy the processes. If you are in the process for considering a retention system, avoid systems that are unable to include all students and all people in the student’ life in the process. Avoid systems that will not be successful if your college is unable to inspire every faculty and or staff member to use the system. And finally, look for systems that allow alerts to be raised anytime during the student’s experience, not just once they are in class.

Buy-in: Yes, You Need it From Students Too!

At Engineerica, one of the questions we hear most often from prospective and current clients is, “How do I get my students to use the system?”

The truth is, no system can guarantee student participation 100% of the time, but when making a decision for any new system that will require participation from students, we recommend keeping these two questions in mind:

  • How easy will it be for students to use? Will it take more than a few minutes of their time with each interaction? Will the extra time required from students ultimately be worth it?
  • What methods can our student assistance areas employ to encourage students to use it?


Your students are an important factor when considering any new investment for your center or institution!

For the first question (or set of questions), it can be hard to answer without seeing the system in action on your campus. This can be difficult to accomplish before you make a purchase decision. We recommend requesting a demo account in any system you are seriously considering, and maybe even a pilot if it’s feasible, even for just a few areas.

But we also meet with a lot of folks who assume that any system that requires ANY sort of participation from students will ultimately fail. This just is not true. You should strive for a process that’s as unobtrusive as possible, but if you can integrate it with the culture on campus that already exists, most students will not even notice that this new system has been added. Furthermore, if they can see the value in it, then buy-in becomes much easier for everyone.

For example, many tutoring centers already offer appointments to students, but without appointment software, the process is often laborious and time-consuming for everyone, including students. Making the appointment can take several steps, and being marked as present may require paperwork or something similar which takes precious time away from the appointment itself. If the new system offers a way for students to make appointments quicker and easier, even if they have to learn to do something new, you may be surprised at how quickly students adapt to it.

Other methods can help students adapt to the new system as well. Our Implementation Team has lots of experience helping our clients get students using the system, which don’t always have anything to do with the system itself! Stay tuned to this blog for more ideas.

Engineerica Systems Announces Beacon Capabilities for Student Tracking

ORLANDO, Fla., June 6, 2017 /PRNewswire/ -- Engineerica Systems, Inc., makers of student tracking and retention systems, announces an exciting and landmark upgrade to AccuCampus, the company's most robust system yet. Institutions may now utilize beacon technology in any of their locations, creating new possibilities for data collection and engagement assessment.

Tracking has always been easy in areas such as tutoring centers or study halls, which generally have one point of entry and room for a computer sign-in station. But for other areas, tracking has long seemed like no more than a pipe dream. Cafeterias, for example, may wish to know how many students visit their area daily versus how many end up buying food, but there is usually no practical location for a sign-in station. Other areas may simply wish to eliminate sign-in stations altogether, as they can clog up entrances and create a barrier between students and services.

With beacon technology, this is no longer a problem. Small beacons equipped with Bluetooth capabilities are placed in a physical location. When students enter the area, the beacon connects with an app on their phone and marks them as present. Areas which need to solicit more information from students, such as the service they will be utilizing, can trigger the simple questionnaire to the student's phone as part of the check-in process.

Beacons can also be used for class attendance. Engineerica's team frequently hears from instructors who run large lectures and cannot always be sure who is in attendance or not. Sign-in sheets are unreliable and difficult to manage, and there is simply no time to call roll. With beacon technology, not only can instructors receive an instant and automated report of who attended, but they can also send questions and surveys to the students to promote participation in classes of any size. The beacons are easy to implement and use, and though this is just one of the many features in the AccuCampus system, its myriad uses means it can provide endless benefits to institutions.

Beacons are an available add-on with any AccuCampus subscription. AccuCampus is a cloud-based, institution-wide solution for increasing student engagement through collaboration, management, and assessment of student resources. AccuCampus assists students through student-facing features which empower them to seek out resources. Staff are provided tools which allow them to track use of their area without adding on extra time or effort.  IR and senior departments will also benefit from unique prediction models which allow them to analyze their retention efforts and adjust as necessary. Overall, AccuCampus creates an institution-wide experience which enhances retention and engagement goals.

Engineerica has over 20 years of experience developing tracking systems for institutions across the country, and the company is proud to remain on the cusp of the latest tracking technologies and retention practices. To request a demo of AccuCampus, visit http://www.engineerica.com/accucampus/demo.

Contact:

Rachel Cook
Software Consultant
888-249-7227
163009@email4pr.com
http://www.engineerica.com

Supporting Your Staff During Software Decisions

Every day in higher education, we put more and more pressure and responsibilities on our student support staff. They are on the front lines of student interaction, and as budgets tighten and accountability expands, they must continuously show that the work they’re doing is vital for the institution. On the one hand, this makes sense, but on the other hand, the more time staff are spending on accountability measures and the tools that will help them gather their data, the less time they’re spending with students, ironically making them less effective! We hope that the following tips will help your staff be more successful in their roles, and they will also help encourage buy-in for new tools and processes.

Of course we need to know important information when students walk in the door. Questions any student support entity needs to know may include:

  • Who’s coming?
  • How long are they staying?
  • What are they coming for?
  • Where are they coming from?

When considering a tool for your student support entities to gather this information, there is a delicate balance of gathering the necessary data without overburdening your staff (and sometimes by extension, your students!).


You can give your staff many tools, but they only have so many hands (and so much time!)

Whenever you consider a new tool for your area, keep these questions in mind:

  • How will it help us answer the above questions?
  • How will staff be using it? Will it be easily accessible during sessions, or will they have to use the tool in between student interactions?
  • How long will it take to implement?
  • What processes that are already in place will it replace or make easier?
  • What is the learning curve? Is training provided and how much?
  • How much will students need to interact with it? What information can be automatically entered to minimize manual input?

Whether you’re considering AccuCampus, another one of Engineerica’s tracking systems, or a system from another provider, we want to make sure these questions are being answered for you! Don’t hesitate to reach out to our team if you have questions about how to best find the right tool for your institution or center. And if you want to find out more about how AccuCampus answers these questions, please get in touch with us to arrange a demo!

One Campus for all

In the past couple months we have been working hard to get closer to all users.  That means implementing lots of modifications to make AccuCampus more accessible to people with disabilities.

Modifications in the system include:
- All images have an alternate text for screen readers (SR)
- Use of additional explanatory text for controls that require it
- Enabled keyboard navigation across the site.
- Use of 'role' attributes to improve site navigability.
- Correct use of titles and headers to make content easy to understand.
- Changed ambiguous content.

Our tests are being performed with NVDA (NonVisual Desktop Access), which is the most popular free screen readers.
Also the Firefox Accessibility Toolbar is a great resource for spotting common design problems. For people with cognitive problems, which represent around of the 6% of the Americans, we are using Read-able, a tool that analyzes the complexity of the text written.

If you are using JAWS or VoiceOver, we would love to hear from you!  Making it work for everyone is our priority, let us know if it works for you!