Innovations in Academic Advising: A Sakai CLE for Academic Advisors and Advisees

marist student unionImage by glemak via Flickr

Dr. Mark A. Van Dyke, Associate Professor School of Communication and the Arts Marist College, Poughkeepsie, NY 12601 (845) 575-3000, ext. 2679 mark.vandyke

Marist College has completed a one-year pilot of a CLE-based site for academic advisors and student advisees. This site, created with Marist’s iLearn (Innovative Learning and Research Network) brand of Sakai, integrates a full suite of Sakai tools. These tools create a highly-interactive online community that has greatly enhanced virtual communication, collaboration, file management, and innovation in the academic advising process for one advisor and more than 50 of his academic advisees. The Marist model of this collaboration site supports academic advising for an on-the-ground bachelor’s in communication program and a fully-online master’s program in communication. It also supports advising between master’s candidates and thesis committee members, provides tutorials and other instructional resources for new advisees, and connects students who are studying abroad with the academic advisor and other students who consider study-abroad programs. Hence, this site can serve the needs of traditional and non-traditional students and academic advisors in a wide variety of situations by offering the flexibility, power, and the openness of Sakai’s product.

He developed a project site around Marist Collaborative Learning Constellation.

Sakai and innovation in academic advising

“If academic advisors want to reach their advisees, and their advisees are living in a digital world, then advisors need to become part of that world as well.”

Elements of virtual academic advising include fast, efficient, flexible, powerful, and open. He saw Sakai as a good fit for this.

Used the U.S National Academic Advisting Association Guidelines for Web-based advising.

The course site used most of the tools in Sakai. The academic community of advisors and advisees could benefit from the same collaborative learning environment as the teachers and students. He creates specific groups for specific needs. All the links advisors need to calendars and schedules are in the side-bar. One of the most popular tools is the wiki. He also uses Twitter. He uses an online sign-up sheet as needed via the wiki tool. He also used web conferencing to meet with students.

In the wiki, the students are able to update information about the college as things change.

The feedback from advisees is pretty significant: they visit his site more often than students would typically visit their advisor.
Students are enrolled in the site manually. The advisors get a list of their students.
He is able to virtually meet with students and determine if he can answer their questions quickly or if their situation is more complicated and he can then schedule an appointment. He says that the virtual site enhances face-to-face contact rather than replacing it.

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