From Memberanda, Fall 2011
We received a lot of great feedback about your presentation at the Annual Meeting. What should admission officers know about the use of technology in the admission process?
If you boil the presentation down, there are two main recommendations that I have for admissions officers. The first is that technology should work for you; you shouldn’t be working for it. While this sounds good, it is often hard to achieve. There are three keys to making this happen. First, there must be a strong partnership with the technology, business, and development offices so that everyone is leveraging administrative data to become more efficient and make better decisions.
Second, admission officers need to know how to “change the oil” when it comes to technology. Gone are the days of illiteracy with key tools like Excel, PowerPoint, basic website maintenance, and image editing. Third, admission officers need the right tools to do the job. I am amazed when I see the number of admission officers who are still working off tiny monitors or small laptop screens. Data is at the heart of the admission process; huge productivity gains can be realized by simple things like providing admissions folks with large monitors. Prices for 22-inch monitors have dropped so much over the past couple of years that there really isn’t any reason to wait to buy.
The second point is to use the web to tell the ongoing story of your school. While paper has some uses, the web has become the distribution method for images, video, and text. You can be sure that every prospective parent will spend significant time looking at your school’s website. Make sure that you are telling your story with up-to-date images, video, and sound. Prospective parents and students want to see how learning is alive at your school today. Having images and video that change often is very important. Pictures don’t have to be taken by a professional, and every picture does not have to be accompanied with lots of polished text. The most important thing is to capture the great things that are going on at your school and get them published quickly.
What are some specific tools worth exploring?
batchgeo.com: This is my favorite. It is a user-friendly free tool for mapping demographic information. You have to see it to believe it. Simply paste a list of applicant addresses into the main page, and batchgeo will build a Google map with all of the addresses plotted and graphs showing areas with the greatest concentration of addresses.
Smartsheet.com: SmartSheet is an easy-to-use, web-based application that allows you to build powerful spreadsheets that can easily be shared with your team members. I love the way SmartSheet allows you to attach files to a row. It also allows you and your team members to have an online conversation on a specific row. I could imagine Smartsheet being a very powerful tool for facilitating the decision process for admission committees. Smartsheet is a usable, shareable spreadsheet for the rest of us. The basic cost begins at about $15 per month.
NAIS Demographic Center: I always recommend that admission officers take a look at the demographic center on the NAIS web site. It provides some very powerful trend data on every geographic area in the country. This is very helpful information for the Head of School and Board.
Personal scanners: Paper and I don’t get along very well. Therefore, I scan everything. The Fujitsu Scansnap scanner is my favorite tool for easily turning everything into PDF documents. It is somewhat expensive at $400, but it can change your life if you use it for everything.
The current education debate, whether public or private, is focused squarely on assessment – including the assessment of quality teaching. How will the work of Folio Network add value to this discussion?
Our work is focused on providing software and consulting services that help schools reimagine the evaluation and growth process for faculty and staff. So many schools complain that their current process is cumbersome and ineffective. We believe that the faculty and staff are every school’s most important asset. It’s that simple. Yet so many schools struggle to find a thoughtful, sustainable system for enhancing and managing the personal growth of their people. If you boil it down, FolioNetwork strives to help independent schools inspire informed conversations for growth in their communities.