Respond Before They Fail – Implementing Our New Alert System

One of my favorite parts of my role here at WCET is learning about technology initiatives at colleges or universities, especially those that are not only helpful for students, but receive such rave reviews from faculty members and staff! That’s why I was thrilled when Ashley Nielsen, the Teaching Faculty & Title III Grant Director with Antioch University Santa Barbara, contacted me about their implementation of their early alert system. The system, called EAASY Alerts, ensures that instructors have the opportunity to reach out to students who may need assistance or resources. Faculty and administrator reviews showcase what you should consider if you plan on implementing a similar tool.

Enjoy the read and enjoy your day,

Lindsey Downs, WCET


Before the pandemic took most of our faculty fully online, Antioch University Santa Barbara had deployed an academic alert system called EAASY Alerts. The deployment and implementation of this system has been very successful – and we want to share about our experiences.

Designing EAASY Alert System

We designed EAASY Alerts because our previous academic alert system was cost-prohibitive, and our faculty didn’t use it because it was too clunky. So, we worked with an external developer to design a new system for us.

a professor writing on a board
Image from #WOCinTechChat

We based our design on one simple principle – ease of use. This meant that the user interface had to be simple and intuitive with no training needed to use it. It also meant that any function we didn’t need we didn’t develop. What was created was a streamlined process that has a 100% of faculty using it.

Here are some reasons why think everyone should develop such a system along with some comments on why our system has been so helpful for our faculty and staff.

Top Reasons We Love Our Alert System

1. Faculty and advisors are alerted when a student adds, drops, or withdraws from a course within 24-hours.

Faculty – “Now I know when a student adds my class versus finding out later they added but never contacted me!”

Advisor – “Sometimes students drop all their classes without letting anyone know. With these alerts, I can reach out to the students immediately and help them find the resources they need to continue.”

Administration – “If we can re-enroll just a handful of students, the system has already paid for itself!”

2. No training required! Sharing a simple infographic does the trick!

Faculty – “It is easy to navigate and use!”

Faculty – “I didn’t have to go to get another training on software!”

Administration – “No extra costs to train my faculty. Heaven!”

3. Faculty can send an alert to the student about a concern they may have. The alert is automatically cc’d to the resources the student may need depending on which concern was raised.

Faculty -” I don’t have to figure out who the student’s advisor is nor remember the emails and names for all the different services we offer. I just click what is my concern and it does the rest.”

Advisor -” I am able to reach out the student as soon as an alert is raised so I can help them navigate the system and get the appropriate resources they need.”

4. Alerts are tracked and organized for each student.

Image from #WOCinTechChat

Advisor -” The system tracks all the alerts for me so I don’t have to keep track. If I want to know how many alerts a student has I can easily check. I can then pro-actively make sure the student is signing up for the classes best suited for them.”

Administration – “I can quickly see which faculty are raising alerts and which students are most in trouble. I can then respond in time versus after midterms or worse after they fail the class.”

Administration – “I also have a record of any academic student issues in case I need that later if a grade is disputed.”

6. It’s even helping faculty with professional development!

The system includes customized Suggestions for Writing Emails by the Antioch University Writing Center. Faculty can click on the link in the software to develop new skills such as how to write a better, more useful email.

Administration – “Through this process, we have been able to give in-time training to faculty about how to write emails to their students that are effective, compassionate, and clear. I also can help faculty write better emails.”

Administration “Many of my faculty have also changed the way they teach so they have a high-stake assignment before midterms. This always them to raise alerts earlier so a student can find resources to course-correct before it is too late.”

7. Missing First Day Alerts

This is has helped faculty be able to raise an alert to let the student and their advisor know they missed the first day. Then the student can be contacted quickly to receive support. Many times, the student just needed to be connected to the financial aid office for assistance.

Informed, Alerted, Supported

Now more than ever we need to know how our online students are doing and get them the support they need EARLY.

Our new tracking system helps keep us informed about how our students are doing through easy to use alerts. This means we can help them earlier in the semester and hopefully help them be more successful long-term.

Are you interested in implementing your own alert system? I am more than happy to talk with anyone who is interested in learning how to create such a system.

author headdshot

Ashley Nielsen
Teaching Faculty & Title III Grant Director
Antioch University Santa Barbara
anielsen2@antioch.edu


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My name is Lindsey Rae Downs. I am the Assistant Director of Communications and Community for WCET, the WICHE Cooperative for Educational Technologies. I work remotely from beautiful Helena, MT.

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