Here are what advisors are saying about the KSU Advisor Center in KSIS:
In 2013, the Information Systems office was asked to create a better advising page specifically for advisors. Diana Blake and her team met with the members of the Advisor Forum (now over 95 professional advisors who represent every college at K-State) to ascertain their needs. She and her team held several feedback sessions with the group. The members of the Advisor Forum were very active in these discussions and the Information Systems team took the over 285 suggestions seriously. This meant so much to the advisors since they are not often asked for input when new processes are adopted.
As a result of the feedback sessions, a series of wireframes were created for review. A subgroup of advisors and administrators met on a regular basis to tweak the wireframes. Once the subgroup had a working model, the newly updated wireframes were presented to the advising community to review and give additional feedback. Diana and her team cultivated a trusting relationship where advisors felt their recommendations were important and were being applied to this new KSIS project. Once the pages were published, a small group from the IS office presented these pages first to the Advisor Forum and then to the university community at large. I was privileged to be included in this group. The Information Systems team was always professional and quick to answer questions and write down suggestions as they arose.
Special trainings were held for the Advisor Forum members. Again, letting the Advisors know that their contributions were important. After Phase one was up and running, the Information Systems Office continued to meet with the Advisor Forum members to add an online notes tab. This was an especially difficult addition because advisors were concerned with protecting student privacy. Diana’s team calmed the advisors’ nerves by adding a sensitive area as well as a general notes area. After much debate, the advisors finally agreed on a template and now this feature is a favorite.
Diana’s team continues to add features to the pages, and she posts news of these updates on the Advisor Forum listserv. She also keeps us abreast of IT problems that affect us like when the KSIS Crisis caused major problems on the first day of class. She let us know what happened on that day and how the problem was fixed so it would not happen again. We appreciate being kept in the loop since problems like the KSIS Crisis directly affected our ability to work.
Diana will be meeting with the group again in April to preview KSIS changes coming in fall 2017. The advising community values the congenial relationship we have established with the IS office. We definitely feel like we have created an advocate on campus who cares about our issues, listens to our needs and works hard to make our jobs easier and more efficient. When advisors feel heard and appreciated, it improves advisor retention and work satisfaction and that in turn helps all students at K-State.
As an advisor, I have greatly appreciated the new Advisor Center, how easy it is to navigate, and how it gives me instant access to so much pertinent information about each individual student. I tell each of my students in their initial advisor appointment that my responsibility as an advisor is to give them the best information available and to provide them with multiple choices (if possible) to consider. I also tell them that, as students, they are responsible for contacting me, asking me questions, and letting me know when they are struggling ("I can't do anything to help you if I don't know that something is wrong") and for making the final decision on a course of action, once I have presented them with those options.
The Advisor Center has been a tremendous tool for me because, when so many variables affect student decisions, those variables are all available at my finger tips, in the same place, through the Advisor Center. The "Notes" feature has been especially helpful to me as I work with my students. I personally keep extremely detailed records of my interactions with students, including brief descriptions of what classes we talked about taking, which semesters students will be taking certain classes, and other information.
When I am working with a student who has a complex graduation plan, it is often helpful to return to my notes to refresh in my mind a plan we may have discussed in a previous meeting. The notes are also a helpful method of confirming to myself that I have covered everything I needed to discuss with my student in a given meeting. Finally, the notes have allowed me to double-check the classes that my student and I discussed for the next semester, so that if the student is enrolled in a class that they do not need, I can investigate whether or not the student made the schedule change without consulting me first.
Thank you for all of the work that you and your team did on this project! I absolutely believe that advisors (and therefore our students) are benefiting from the new Advisor Center in significant ways.
-- Lindsey Morford, College of Education
As an Open Option and Interdisciplinary Social Sciences advisor at K-State, I have many students who declare one of these programs after having started off in another college or major. I have greatly appreciated that the KSU Advisor Center has provided the University with a centralized way of tracking students’ advising and of recording advisor notes. It is very helpful for me as an advisor to read over one of my students’ previous advisors notes. It helps me to have some background before meeting them to better be able to prepare for our first meeting. I believe this has directly helped to improve advising at K-State.
I also appreciate knowing that as an Open Option advisor I can write notes that I know my student’s future advisor once they declare a major will be able to see. For example, I can write “We chose PSYCH 110 for John who thinks he may want a Psychological Sciences theme if he declare Business.” Then I know his future Business advisor will know that we chose PSYCH 110 for a specific purpose and intend on using it for his Business thematic sequence. I believe the advisor notes capability in the KSU Advisor Center has helped to increase advisor communication and improve student services campus wide. I’m thankful to the Information Systems Office for their hard work in creating this improved system.
-- Meagan Scott, College of Arts and Sciences
When I started working at Kansas State University I was first trained on the old KSIS system, and a month later, got introduced to the New Advisor Center. What a difference! The layout in the Advisor Center is very thorough. I am able to find at a glance, just about all of the pertinent information on a student, especially if they pop-in my office unannounced. Diana and her IT team listened and implemented most of the feedback advisors gave them to produce a product that is very key to our job of advising. Within one or two clicks, I have all of the information I need to assist students.
Several times I have checked a student’s schedule to see they are not enrolled full-time. This often times wreaks havoc with financial aid issues. A quick email to let the student know, has saved several students. They quickly added a class and avoided further financial headaches.I have worked at several universities across the nation and have been very pleased how well respected the advisor input is taken in improving a product. There has been great collaboration and training opportunities with the IT team and the university. It has allowed me to make more efficient use of my time, which in turn ensures that I get more time with my students to understand their needs and be more proactive.
-- Mary Vesper, College of Engineering
The ability to sort, filter, and group in the KSU Advisor Center is one of the best functions, in my books! Allowing us these functions allows us to send more pointed emails to the groups of students who really need them. For instance, every semester after warning letters are distributed, I like to send a follow up email to my students reminding them of resources on campus and letting them know that I am willing to set up regular meetings with them to help them get back on track. Before the KSU Advisor Center, I had to filter through numerous folders to find those on warning and type each address in to the email. Now, I can filter for those currently on academic warning and send the email quickly! The same is true for seniors who are graduating, etc.
-- Beth Stuewe, School of Family Studies and Human Studies