Archive for the ‘ProgDB’ Category
The ProgDB is a community of university educators. Our goal is to build tools which help educators collaborate with each other, track our successes, and inspire creativity. As part of that goal, there are two new ways to stay connected to the ProgDB through twitter:
For news and updates – we will post updates about the service, preview upcoming changes, or repost ideas which might be interesting to university programmers. Give us feedback, or share your thoughts about how you use the ProgDB.
For programming inspiration – on this account you will see recently posted programs in the community. We want to highlight the work of university educators that are contributing to the ProgDB. Get inspired by seeing what is going on at other campuses, or with your colleagues.
Now you can use twitter to stay updated or get inspired for your next event.
Thanks to GraphicLeftovers for the twitter egg graphic.
Starting this week, each program page now comes with an even shorter URL. So instead of linking to
you send your friend the following link
We’ve been building! In addition to the revision to the tags section, we’ve included two more features that will help you stay connected with your work.
Automatic reminders once your program has completed
This is a small change, but hopefully it will make it easier to keep your programs up to date with the latest information. Now, when your program ends, we’ll send you an email reminder so that you can attach any additional files, or fill in missing information such as attendance or assessment data.
Reports were always something that we have been wanting to put into the system. We wanted to make sure we were building something that was based on how people actually used their data. We’re proud to let you know that our first version of program reports is now available on the system. If you are a group administrator, you will see a new button in the sidebar of your group page.
Before using the ProgDB, you would create reports of your programming data by manually creating spreadsheets. After putting your staff on the ProgDB, you could automatically export these spreadsheets with instantly up-to-date programming data. Now, you can instantly see reports of the most commonly requested data without any exporting or spreadsheets.
Conversations during the testing period and current users advised these initial reports that are available now. Specifically, we have created interactive graphs and tables with live data showing the information that our groups were most interested in. You can see totals by academic term, by groups, people, programing form and months. Now, instead of waiting until the end of the month or quarter to see summary programming numbers, you can see your current numbers anytime.
As always, you can still get to all of your data by exporting it to a spreadsheet, but we wanted to create visual tools that will make it a little easier to see what is going on. Since this is the first version, we expect to see a number of iterations and improvements to reports over the next few months.
Both of these features were requests from groups who are using the ProgDB. Let us know what you think and share how you use your data – it will help the ProgDB become something that you love using. What are you waiting for – its okay to play and have fun with your numbers!
We just finished a major overhaul of the tags section. If you have an account, take a look at it now. Get lost in the work of others, and get inspired about what you can do as a university educator.
I hope you’ll take a moment to skim these slides from Netflix on developing their culture. I read this as a conversation about supporting and challenging our students. University settings often create an environment of freedom and learning for our students – many of whom are also our employees. Netflix talks about coordinating this freedom by creating context within your organization so that folks are working toward the same goals. I think that many of us have had these same conversations within our organizations, only replacing the word “context” with “expectations”.
I wanted to point out the conversation starting at slide 86; part of the goal for the ProgDB is to help your organization maintain high levels of alignment. Alignment comes through staying in contact about event details which allow your meeting time to focus on tactics, strategies and goals. Having a detailed understanding at all levels of your organization about the projects that peers are involved in create opportunities for collaboration, and decrease replication of efforts due to lack of communication. Simply maintaining these open channels of communication help team members teach themselves about best practices by observing the work of others and recognizing the work that they admire.
I admire a few of the other points made in the presentation about management and attributes of quality team members. It’s well worth reading. Thanks to @kprentiss for highlighting these slides – great find.
What is the best way to start using the ProgDB? Our recommendation is to start small.
When I’ve talked to college administrators about using the ProgDB, they are at first excited and immediately recognize how this will help their team. At some point in the conversation it becomes clear that they are strategizing on the best way to introduce it to their staff and peers. Their voice starts to sound a little overwhelmed as they talk about holding large staff meetings in order to provide training for everyone, about transitioning in the course of a week to put hundreds of people on it.
That’s fine – you can definitely do that. But the last thing we want to do is contribute to your stress – this is hassle free software.
Instead, we recommend starting small and letting it grow through your organization organically. That is one reason why we use flexible licensing – so that your organization can afford to have more licenses than it needs in order to give them out when it is time to expand.
As I’ve helped different groups of people use ProgDB, I’ve noticed that starting out with a team of 5 or 10 people is often the easiest way to start seeing results. With 5 people, you can setup a form and a group and introduce it over email. It was designed to be intuitive to use – but there are also help videos which demonstrate exactly how to use it. Training is built in.
After observing how a small team uses it, you will have a group of mentors who can teach others and an understanding of how it fits in with your goals. From there it won’t be as intimidating to get it moving through your organization. If you’d like to talk about it, drop us a line. We’ve got your back.
This is the software that I wanted when I supervised a programming staff at Humboldt State University. Just within my department, I knew that we could do better work by sharing the details of our individual projects. I saw that my staff was disconnected from what their peers were doing. And I also found myself wanting to collaborate with my amazing colleagues in other departments.
We struggled with a few things.
1) How difficult it was to get everyone who worked on programs (even within our small department) into the same physical space.
Since many of us work with students on our staff, it was important to help them balance their academic and work schedule. Which means being flexible in finding a meeting time that works for everyone. In teams of 5-10 it was not as much of a problem. Finding time for larger team meetings quickly became a problem.
2) Eating up that precious meeting time talking about the details of a program and not using that time to talk about our goals.
Perhaps this is familiar: getting into a larger team meeting and quickly going around the room with brief statements about the projects everyone was working on. I loved this section of the meeting, but it was easy to use a quarter of your meeting with just these updates. And it was important, but it wasn’t directly improving our practice and inevitably details were missed, and people forgot to announce their projects in that moment. So, now that everyone was in the same physical space – was it the right space to be conducting this business?
3) Stuff was lost, mistakes were made.
Even after we completed events, it was difficult to get a good picture of what we had accomplished. We initially had paper forms, and a small database of our events, but allowing everyone in our department to use that data was complicated. If we wanted to re-create a program in the next year, the files for that event were inevitably on someone’s personal computer – perhaps they still worked for us, but it was just as likely that they did not. I can’t tell you how many times we re-created the same documents year after year.
4) The meeting-problem prevented us from working with other departments.
Instead of everyone hearing updates about the projects happening in other departments, we would send representatives from our department who would come back to our meeting and report back about what other groups were doing. But inevitably, there were holes in those reports, and dates and times were missed, and opportunities for working together were lost.
None of these situations helped us serve our students – and all of these problems had solutions. Whether we call it maximizing the social capital within our organization or improving the organizational intelligence, it seemed important to apply a tool which would help us become better educators. The ProgDB was specifically designed to help us do this and we are incredibly happy to announce it’s availability.
Please take a moment to see the tour. If you are interested in checking it out, you can put a small team on it for free for 30 days. We recommend starting small – don’t overload yourself by thinking about getting everyone on at once. Consider using the summer to try it out with a small group of people and seeing if it works for you. By the end of the summer you will have mentors who can help others in your department.
And we’d love to continue this conversation about how we can use tools like this to improve our practice as university educators and serve our students. That is our goal in producing a tool like this for your organization.
It’s exciting to see the ProgDB come out of a successful quarter of testing and we are looking forward to making it available to a wider audience soon. In the meantime, I wanted to share a demonstration video for the ProgDB. It will be part of a more complete tour which highlights some of the features.
If you would like to be on the initial list of people to receive an evaluation account, you can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Thanks to the feedback from early testers, the ProgDB now includes improved program printing and administrative notification. Administrators can now choose to receive updates as they happen, or in a digest email once per day.
Until recently, the page format used for printing a program page was the same forma that was used for online viewing. A simple program in this format might extend to 3 pages. Although we hope that this tool will reduce your reliance on paper, if you do need to print a program report, the ProgDB now has a new concise page layout for printing. The best part is that you don’t need to alter your practice or change to a different view – just print the page as you normally would. Your web browser will know what to do.
Digest Administrative Updates
There are many actions which administrators need to know about, and email notification is sometimes the most immediate way to stay in contact with the group you oversee. Before this update, an email would be delivered to administrators whenever a new user was added to the group, or a new administrators was assigned. If an administrator oversaw 10 groups, this could create a lot of email. Now administrators can choose on a per-group basis whether to receive these notifications in real time, or as a single email at the end of the day.
The ProgDB is designed to be a simple tool to help you collaborate and track your co-curricular programs. This kind of feedback from people who are using it helps to refine it into something that is fun and easy to use. Thank you Piya and Andy for helping make it better.