AU undergoes new system upgrade

Ellucian Self-Service replaces WebAdvisor

Grace Scarberry, ASSISTANT EDITOR

A new software program, Ellucian Self-Service, is being implemented by Ashland University in order to make advising and scheduling easier.

AU currently uses Ellucian WebAdvisor, but according to James Hayes, director of educational technology, that system is outdated and has been in need of an upgrade.

Hayes noted that the software is too old and beginning to reach the end of its lifespan.

“Nobody uses Windows 7 anymore because that operating system has reached the end of its lifespan,” he said. “That same thing happened with WebAdvisor, the tool we were previously using for registration. It came to the end of its product lifespan where it was no longer supported.”

The university, he added, was forced to make an upgrade so they can continue providing online services and support.

Ellucian Self-Service, however, will bring many advantages that WebAdvisor did not provide, Hayes said.

The program will supply better communication between advisors and students, and will allow advisors to create and share a sample plan to be accessed when scheduling courses.

For reference, Hayes described the previous process as trying to find “X”, symbolizing one’s degree, on a treasure map. Students had to go semester by semester for registration. Ellucian’s course sample would avoid that, and load the plan automatically.

“Ellucian scans into the future and it drops those courses that you’re going to need to take into slots for 2021, Fall and Spring of 2022 to Fall and Spring of 2023—it makes it a lot easier for you to then click on a lot of placeholders to register for classes as opposed to having to constantly consult and reference,” he said.

The system also warns students if they have planned for a course in a semester that it is not being offered, or if they have selected a course that requires a preliminary they need to take.

A bonus feature has also been added within this program that will allow students to search for a specific course type when making their plan.

Rather than just searching for courses within Biology or Chemistry hoping to find a Natural Science core class, students would specifically be able to search “Core Natural Science” in order to find course types.

In addition to the updated format, Hayes noted Ellucian Self-Service also offers more guidance.

“With Webadvisor, there was little to no guidance that was provided,” he said. “When you go into Ellucian, you’re going to see messages from your advisor, you’re going to see a plan that’s been loaded by your advisor and so there’s going to be more help for you as you are using the tool.”

For some, this may prove to be a difficult transition. In order to overcome these challenges, Hayes created a training campaign and videos for students and faculty to access.

According to Megan Sherar, director for academic support, faculty and advisors went through additional training sessions in January to familiarize them with the program before implementation.

She also recommends signing up for further training in order to have a chance to get to know the program and ask questions.

“In addition to checking out the Student Planning Training Website, we also recommend that students attend one of the training dates below to walk through the system and have questions answered,” she said. “Students can sign up for a virtual training date by going to: http://bit.ly/StudentPlanningSignUp.”