Teachers College, Columbia University

Using Technology to Reform Advising: Insights From Colleges

By Melinda Mechur Karp & Jeffrey Fletcher
Using Technology to Reform Advising: Insights From Colleges

Increasingly, colleges are using new technologies to address challenges created by high student-to-advisor ratios and by student unfamiliarity in navigating college. Sometimes referred to as Integrated Planning and Advising Services (IPAS), these technologies provide an array of student support-focused functions, including course management, degree planning, and early alerts. Yet colleges and college personnel often approach IPAS as a technology deployment rather than as a mediator of reform. Ideally, IPAS motivates a college to rethink and reform its advising system.

This guide summarizes findings from a study in which we examined how six colleges planned for and began IPAS implementation and associated reform, and how they addressed the surprises and challenges they encountered. The guide and the Questions-to-Ask supplement aim to help college practitioners embarking on advising reform anticipate and plan for the kinds of challenges that peer institutions have faced, so they can improve their chances for successful implementation and end-user adoption.

We identify three key lessons: (1) implementation is about more than technology; (2) good project management is essential; and (3) an IPAS-ready culture facilitates reform. In describing each lesson, we provide specific examples from the six colleges, and we share strategies they used to move their projects forward.