How COVID-19 Will Transform Registrar Software in 2020, And How Coursedog is Leading the Charge
The advent of COVID-19 has sent markets, workplaces, and especially higher-ed into a precautionary frenzy. While the outbreak of the virus poses serious risk to communities across the world, Coursedog would like to assure both existing and prospective partner schools that the virus will not pose a threat to the efficacy of the company nor to the services we provide. All of our software (Class Scheduling, Events Scheduling, Catalog Manager, and Curriculum Manager) will all remain fully up and running and supported during the current crisis.
Moreover, the ongoing crisis will inevitably change conceptions of proper workplace management and operation, especially within the context of higher education. Below, we touch on the possible and likely impacts on higher-ed that will last well beyond the present crisis. Lastly, we would like to point folks to the advice of the relevant authorities at the WHO and CDC.
Question 1: Will COVID-19 affect my school’s current use of Coursedog?
Because Coursedog is a cloud-based software, its central functionality does not depend on in-person labor. That being said, the people here at Coursedog are responsible for maintaining the platform, refining it, and supporting the schools that have grown to depend on it. As such, we are taking the threats posed by COVID-19 very seriously, both as it relates to the health of our company and to that of the greater public.
For one, we have instituted a mandatory, company-wide work-from-home policy, and distributed the necessary resources to ensure doing so does not stymie the quality nor the consistency of our work. We have also put a hold on all travel, be it for on-site meetings or industry conferences. Lastly, our recent funding efforts ensure that we can continue both to make the hires necessary to accommodate our growing user base and to build out additional functionality and products.
Question 2: How should Coursedog be leveraged to accommodate online learning, work-from-home, and post-COVID workplaces?
Coursedog provides the only end-to-end, cloud-based scheduling software that streamlines course scheduling, curriculum management, and other admin processes in higher-ed. We are therefore focused on providing efficient, consistent channels of communication that minimize and/or eliminate manual workload, process duplication, and physical forms.
Coursedog's highly customizable digital form builder can be used to design and/or replicate any imaginable form currently used on campus today. Given the platform's bi-directional integration with every major SIS, fields offer "smart entry," ensuring that form submissions are in compliance with appropriate inputs and that your data is clean and legible. Moreover, Coursedog offers a highly dynamic workflow construction tool that empowers administrators to replicate their workflows on campus by designating stakeholders and their relevant permissions and dynamically routing the appropriate form to the appropriate personnel via integration with Outlook and GSuite.
Together, our form builder and workflow tools extricate workplace processes in higher-ed from the confines of needed person-to-person contact. We're modernizing academic bureaucracy by digitizing its constituent parts, automating communication through dynamic routing, and improving the experiences of all relevant stakeholders. While these tools have traditionally been leveraged within the context of curriculum and catalog management, we've now made the barebones of our digital form and dynamic workflow builders available for general-use. Doing so provides higher-ed with further opportunity to streamline business and academic processes, especially in an environment where folks are working from home and practicing social distancing.
Question 3: How might COVID-19 change higher-ed?
Now that schools have been all but forced to migrate online, there is reason to think that students, professors, and administrators will find unforeseen value in online courses, leading to an increase in online offerings. Questions regarding the effect(s) of online courses on on-campus enrollments will inevitably follow and demand quick answers. Schools with meaningful data on registration and enrollment are likely to find these challenges easier to navigate. Furthermore, schools with access to robust class planning software will find it far easier to quickly adapt to evolving conditions when the unexpected occurs.
Faculty loads may also change as a result of shifting focus to distance learning. Flexible hours and shifting schedules towards an asynchronous learning environment could likely change the standard workday and workload for the average faculty member. Unlike physical classrooms, online courses do not have physical occupancy constraints on their enrollment, allowing for more students to be enrolled in traditionally space-constrained courses during times of crisis.
An online-heavy schedule will reduce challenges associated with room assignments, but will likely present new, and possibly unfamiliar headaches. With class-size relevance waning in an online environment, the average enrollment per class will likely increase, therefore instructors are likely to be teaching fewer sections, which could lead to a complete overhaul in curriculum. Institutions with clunky curricular workflows will be the most affected.
Question 4: What will happen when schools reopen after having closed their campus for an entire semester?
Bottlenecks for registration and admission, for one. Students may now be thrown off their graduation track, so the courses that used to be offered in the Fall will have to be pushed to the Spring, and the ensuing effects are unlikely to be pleasant for schools that struggle with course scheduling and instructor and room assignments. Use of trustworthy curriculum software and catalog management software will be vital in a strategy to rebuild class offerings and degree programs when things change for students in the midst of their degree paths.
Another possible enrollment bottleneck could occur if the NCAA allows Winter/Spring athletes to return for another year of eligibility-while also requiring them to be enrolled in classes in order to maintain their eligibility. Doing so will add additional unplanned headcount, potentially leading to bottlenecks in enrollment and graduation.
Technology proving its value during a time of crisis and subsequently gaining popularity is nothing new. The 1906 San Francisco earthquake twisted streetcar rails, and many residents discovered that their horses were too scared to step over the new cracks in the street, or approach burning buildings. Can you guess how that impacted sales of the new invention called the automobile? They skyrocketed in San Francisco immediately after the quake and our country was forever changed.
In time, Americans were able to phase out our reliance upon our equine friends and adapt to the new automotive technology. Sure, there were some bumps along the road (pun intended!), but embracing technology made our country more productive and turned out to be the correct decision. Figuring out the fallout from COVID-19 and the subsequent migration to online courses, though painful, could ultimately be the earthquake that higher ed needed to get back on the road.
Cases and latest updates:
CDC Communication Tools for Institutions: