The traditional learning environment is changing quickly and dynamically. With the rise in flexible learning and other modern advances in the higher education sector, UBC has reached a pivotal juncture where our practices and processes need to adapt to meet the changing demands. Our current and anticipated growth is outpacing the capacity of our current systems, resulting in a need to invest in new technology that will provide the foundation for future functionality and process improvements.
In June 2014, the replacement of the Student Information System (SIS) received the full support of UBC's leadership team and the Student Academic Systems Initiative (SASI) was formed. SASI is a collaborative effort between Enrolment Services, UBC Information Technology, and the UBC community.
Why replace the SIS?
Scoping the replacement of the SIS
Given the importance of an SIS replacement, it is essential that we explore market solutions with a full and clear picture of the things the system will need to do to serve our students, faculty, and staff, now and into the future. Understanding and reimagining the existing processes at UBC is no small feat. We are a complex institution with a wide variety of learning environments and opportunities.
Defining the scope of a program of this nature is particularly important when the system has as many interactions with other UBC systems and applications as our current SIS does. Two clearly defined principles guide us in which processes are to be fully examined and included within the scope of SASI:
- The process must support the student academic lifecycle.
- The process must support the needs of credit-based programs.
Our starting point for selecting a solution is founded in high-level requirements gathered from across the UBC community—both at the Vancouver and Okanagan campuses. Conversations with students, faculty, and staff are paramount to understanding the details and complexity of their needs for a new system. Exploring the full breadth of SIS processes with our community, as well as select student related processes that occur outside the SIS, will help the SASI team determine the “future state” and will influence the selection and design of the new system. United by our vision to transform the way we interact and work, SASI is in full swing.
Bringing the UBC community together
To support the recommendation to replace the SIS, there was an extensive consultation process across both campuses including 77 workshops and two open Town Halls inviting the community at large to participate. From these consultations, the project team began to hear opportunities for future improvements and community support for exploring new ways of doing things. We also engaged in conversations with other institutions who had undertaken similar initiatives. Their mantra? “Go slow and get it right". This work set the foundation for the Design & Validation (D&V) phase. We acknowledge a careful approach will take some time, but it is critical in this process to open SASI to a broad set of ideas so that we can select the best path forward for UBC.
Will community engagement continue?
The success of the SASI project is dependent on engaging with the UBC community to ensure their needs factor into the vision and design of the new system. To that end, we are committed to continued dialogue with students, faculty, and staff to assess the requirements of the UBC community for the new system, and are conducting various activities with these groups. There will be many opportunities over SASI's lifespan to get involved.
Selecting a system
After extensive analysis and careful consideration, a recommendation was put forward to the UBC Executive to proceed with a competitive process to select a new SIS for UBC.
As more information becomes available about this process, we will be sure to share it with you.
The journey towards a new Student Information System (SIS) stemmed from independent analysis conducted by Graduate Studies and the Sauder School of Business to replace Graduate Admissions and the Sauder Executive Education systems. Following independent evaluations of SIS solutions, both selected the SITS:Vision product by Tribal Education. SITS:Vision has been successfully implemented at Sauder Executive Education and the Graduate Admissions Streamlining Project (GRASP.)
During the D&V phase, SASI also worked with Tribal Education representatives to explore the possibilities that SITS:Vision might also offer to a broader SIS replacement at UBC. We are clients of Tribal Education and are fully committed to both of our current initiatives.