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Getting the FACTS in Florida. Linda Thanasides Florida Center for Advising and Academic Support October 13, 2000. How Did It All Start?. State of Florida was mandated to establish a statewide advising system in 1997 to link 38 public post-secondary institutions for information transfer

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Getting the FACTS in Florida

Linda Thanasides

Florida Center for Advising and Academic Support

October 13, 2000


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How Did It All Start?

  • State of Florida was mandated to establish a statewide advising system in 1997 to link 38 public post-secondary institutions for information transfer

  • FACTS (Florida Academic Counseling and Tracking for Students) was created

  • Short-time frame for prototype implementation – 9 months

Copyright - FCAAS 2000


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What is FACTS?

  • Distributed, platform independent, web-based delivery system

  • Links institutions together with real-time communication

  • Interfaces with each institution’s host applications to maintain data integrity

Copyright - FCAAS 2000


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Technically Speaking…

  • Central Web Site

    • IBM Mainframe (CICS/VSAM/DB2)

    • Central server is an RS/6000, SP2

    • Locally written code eliminates need for middle ware communication software

  • Institutional Systems:

    • MVS, OS/400, Unix, NT, Etc.

  • Network Interfaces:

    • TCP/IP socket connections, CICS Sockets

Copyright - FCAAS 2000


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FACTS Provides Services

  • Students can

    • Retrieve transcripts

    • Receive academic advising

    • See what is needed to complete a degree at any other institution in the system

    • Construct “what if” scenarios

    • Make coursework assumptions for educational planning

    • Link to other sites for college planning

Copyright - FCAAS 2000


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FACTS Provides Information

  • Institutional Info in following areas

    • Admissions

    • Student records

    • Registration

    • Financial Aid

    • Fee Payments

    • Student Services

    • Library Services

    • Career Counseling

    • Distance Learning

Copyright - FCAAS 2000


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How do you Organize 38+ Different Institutions?

  • Large project tackled issues one by one but set in motion concurrently

  • Various management structures create project management challenge

    • 10 Public Universities

    • 28 Public Community Colleges

    • 27 Private Institutions

    • Open architecture so more can join

Copyright - FCAAS 2000


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Get the Right People Involved

  • Cooperative effort:

    • State Board of Regents

    • State Board of Community Colleges

    • Community Colleges

    • Universities

  • Governing Board created from cooperating entities

Copyright - FCAAS 2000


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Organize Team/Resources

  • Core team needed to establish initial communication system

  • FACTS needed a skilled, productive team to meet short deadline

    • Looked at contractors/consultants

    • Prototype institutions volunteered technical resources for design and programming

Copyright - FCAAS 2000


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Organize Initial Resource Team

  • Technical Project Design Team was appointed

    • Define system scope

    • Create an initial timeline

    • Propose a governance structure shared by Community Colleges and Universities

  • This team is now our Technical Oversight Committee

Copyright - FCAAS 2000


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Organize Administration/Management

  • Management of system design is by consensus (not necessarily total agreement)

  • System design is a group effort

    • Guiding principles preserve institutional autonomy

Copyright - FCAAS 2000


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Permanent Central Staff Needed

  • Important that a trusted central staff be organized for system support

    • To administer funding

    • Implement and maintain system support

    • To eventually do all development so no outsourcing is needed

  • Permanent staff is continually growing

Copyright - FCAAS 2000


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“Expert Teams” Used for Input

  • Need user expertise and “buy-in”

  • Organized teams in functional areas

    • Comprised from departmental staff from all institutions

    • Make recommendations on policy and functionality

    • Suggest target dates and budget needs for additional functionality

Copyright - FCAAS 2000


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Helpful Hints

  • Initial start up organization is different from long term organization

    • Focus is different

    • Resources may be different

  • Important to reassess project

    • Goals

    • Resources

    • Processes

Copyright - FCAAS 2000


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Helpful Hints

  • Be aware of time commitments for “volunteers”

  • Prepare for growth

  • Communicate!!

Copyright - FCAAS 2000


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Institutional Benefits

  • Benefit of increasing knowledge and expertise of Center staff for services

  • Software packages provided by Center for institutional development

  • Sharing of data previously unavailable

  • All institutions can have a web presence

  • Greater exposure to potential students

Copyright - FCAAS 2000


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Student Benefits

  • One web address to gather information

  • Gather information without having to go to several campus offices

  • Provide off-campus services to distance learners

  • Allow almost 24-hour-a-day access to student information

Copyright - FCAAS 2000


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Student Benefits

  • Transfer between institutions is easier

  • Interagency agreements make student access to information easier

    • Common course numbering

    • Articulation agreements

    • Common prerequisites

Copyright - FCAAS 2000


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Impact on Administrators/Staff

  • Time to spend with greater number of students

  • Use FACTS as an informational tool

  • Force the accuracy of data presented to students

Copyright - FCAAS 2000


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Impact on Institutions

  • Forcing policy changes

    • Hours of business

    • Distribution of information

    • Internal policy changes

      • Processing electronic signatures

      • Residency affidavits

      • Fee payments

      • Other online forms

Copyright - FCAAS 2000


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Impact on Institutions

  • Pressure to offer quality services

    • From students

    • From state legislature

    • From institution—to stay in competition with local and national offerings

Copyright - FCAAS 2000


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Impact on Institutions

  • Cost efficiencies are occurring

    • Institutions are not buying software on their own that FACTS will provide

    • Changes in processes are resulting in savings

      • Not mailing grades, transcripts

      • Staff can handle other tasks due to less student traffic

Copyright - FCAAS 2000


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Current Status of FACTS

  • Thirty-one of thirty-eight public post-secondary institutions are displaying transcripts and degree audits

  • Implementing web-based admissions applications

  • Implementing a degree program search

Copyright - FCAAS 2000


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Current Status of FACTS

  • Enhancing current functions

  • Adding informational functions

  • Working toward implementation of private institutions

Copyright - FCAAS 2000


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VISIT THE SITE!

FACTS.ORG

Copyright - FCAAS 2000


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