Electronic/Interactive Version of the RLC Planner

Project Title: Electronic/Interactive Version of the RLC Planner

Project Lead: Mark Gross

Email: grossma@miamioh.edu

Phone: (513) 529-8766

Affiliation: SAF

Faculty Sponsor: Christina Rene Carrubba-Whetstine

Sponsor Email: whetstc@miamioh.edu

Other Team Members Names: John Ward, Ph.D.

Project Details: Every semester approximately 800 students utilize the RLC planner which is loaded with critical dates and other relevant academic support information geared towards Miami University students. This project will allow us to purchase/develop/deploy an online application that turns our existing paperbased planner into an electronic and interactive application that students, staff, and faculty can use to develop time management skills, refine ways to be more organized, and centralize academic support tools which contribute to student success and retention.

Problem Project Attempts to Solve: Our existing RLC planner is only available in paper format. Past attempts to make the planner accessible have been both challenging and unsuccessful since there are a number of tables embedded within multiple pages. Many of the students that we encounter find it challenging to create a master schedule and a master calendar because of the difficulties with spelling, penmanship, and the need to navigate through multiple online sources for information. Having an interactive tool available for students will afford them the opportunity to fully engage in the academic supports provided through the Rinella Learning Center (RLC) and the institution. Since the RLC Planner is currently only available in paper format, it provides a barrier for some students with disabilities and stifles the creative spirit of students wishing to fully embrace the suite of electronic applications provided to all Miami University students. Prior to the start of the fall and spring semesters, the staff within the RLC manually update planner content with information captured from other Miami University departments. Once updated and verified, the proof for the planner is sent to the printer where multiple copies are mass-produced and sold through the Learning Center and Student Counseling Center. Because of competing demands on the printing company/vendor and the availability of some consumables, we sometimes experience a delay in the delivery of the product or must be willing to accept less than desirable quality in order to meet deadlines. Furthermore, if an error is not caught prior to the proof being sent to the printer, the mistake is replicated through every copy produced.

Does this project focus on Graduate Studies?: No

If yes, explain: This product does not focus directly on graduate students. However, graduate students can benefit from using this application.

Does it meet tech fee criteria?: When we engage our students in an attempt to help them recover academically or maintain strong grades, we often find that the student has migrated to online applications and electronic resources and are sometimes reluctant to fully utilize the RLC planner as it was conceptualized. The problem is further exasperated due to some students' ability to spell and write legibly. With more and more courses being available in Canvas and with the use of other electronic applications being used by other departments on campus, it is important that this unit live up to its motto of meeting students where they are and go where they take us. To this end, we seek to purchase/develop/deploy an application that is adaptable and interactive with other Miami university resources. Making the RLC planner available online and interactive will also help to ensure this resource is accessible based on WCAG 2.0 standards. The planner is currently sold to students who typically utilize our services; however, once available in an electronic format where the cost of production is reduced, it is our hope to minimize the costs associated with the planner and make it available any Miami University student, staff, or faculty for a nominal fee. We will negotiate with the fees committee to charge a $3 fee for online access which will then be charged to a student's Bursar account. This approach can be an effective way to build and broaden our collaborative efforts to support and retain students.

How will you assess the project?: This project will be assessed and evaluated based on the number of students who chose to access it at Miami University. Additional assessment will be conducted based on the number of students who work with paraprofessional and professional staff within the RLC who are actively using the planner as a tool for time management, organization, and exposure to institutional resources that are currently spread across a number of divisions and websites.

Have you received tech fee funding in the past?: Yes

What results were achieved?: We have received Technology fees in the past for other initiatives within the department but have never submitted a proposal for this type of project. Feedback on expenses and implementation of other projects have been reported back to the division as requested.

Did you submit a final report?: Yes

What happens to this project in year two?: Since many of the students who will be using this application are from existing populations served through the RLC and SDS, most updates are to insure that the application remains accessible and compliant with WCAG 2.0 standards. Gift funds will be used to purchase software maintenance agreement (SMA) and continued support of this project. Once purchased/developed/deployed, the application will be housed on existing Windows servers leased by RLC from IT Services on the Oxford campus unless we identify a vendor who provides cloud services.

Software: Interactive Planner, $25,000

Contracts: Software Maintenance Agreement (SMA), $5,000

Total Budget: $30,000

Comments: During our investigation of available third-party software products available out-of-the-box, we found that several vendors have applications that could perform some features in time managements while others can perform organization, planning, GPA calculations, grade tracking, and informational features. It is our vision to be able to engage our students using all of the academic support content and tools that are currently available within the existing planner. Since we have been unsuccessful in identifying an off-the-shelf product that can provide a robust application that would capture the various components of the planner, we will request support from IT Services to engage in the RFP process which may include engaging professional coders who can develop the application without any platform restrictions.