Online to Role-Play: Training 62 Advisors on a New Academic Planning Tool

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As Lorain County Community College (Lorain CCC) rolls out Degree Map to their students, a group of 62 advisors, counselors and administrative staff have been hard at work learning more about the tool and the role it will play in improving academic planning and students’ experience. This group received training on Degree Map over a two day period to prepare for the launch.
Online Webinar: Overview of Benefits Including Improved Student Experience and Advisor Workflow
To kick things off, a core group of “power users” attended a 3-hour, in-depth webinar led by Civitas Learning Senior Product Training Consultant, Lori McNabb. This session helped prepare these power users to rotate around the room during on-site training, to help their colleagues understand the tool. Advisors who attended the webinar commented on the ease of navigation within Degree Map, and how they anticipated positive student reactions to being able to easily envision progress toward multiple different degrees. In survey feedback after the training, advisors shared that the workshops helped them understand how the tool could be a conversation starter in their upcoming meetings with students. Advisors also responded positively to their preparation and introduction to Degree Map, with 94% of advisors noting that they would likely use the tool in their appointments with students.
In-Person Orientation: Overview of Benefits Including Improved Student Experience and Advisor Workflow
In February, the Enrollment Services Staff received their first introduction to the tool via an in-person Degree Map orientation led by two members of the Civitas Learning Partner Success team, including myself. In the first orientation, staff learned how Degree Map gives students agency by increasing their access to information and also supports advisors’ work by unifying the critical information they need. Now, when student questions emerge, advising staff will have degree planning and career information in one place. Instead of having to search through multiple screens and files, they will have a more holistic conversation focused on the individual student’s journey — from course planning to career exploration.
Recurring Training Sessions: Building Excitement and Diving Into Features and Functionality
During the next part of the workshop, advisors from across the college attended one of three training sessions offered. Advisors were grouped by functional teams, so that the discussions were highly focused around their unique area of work (i.e. advisors from Allied Health and Nursing all attended the same training). Krista O’Neill, Coordinator of Counseling and Advising Services at Lorain CCC began each session by framing the college’s partnership with Civitas Learning, as well as explaining why she was excited to begin using Degree Map. In her own words, just as she and her staff use their Fitbits to track their fitness progress, students will use the new degree planning tool to consistently check their progress toward degree completion. In these training sessions, advisors received more in-depth exposure to the functionality of Degree Map as they walked through a student’s experience within the application.
Role-Play: Simulating Advising Appointments with Degree Map
To put their training into practice immediately, advisors were then randomly assigned an actual Lorain CCC student so that they could engage in a hands-on review of the Degree Map functionality and begin to role-play how they would use the tool in their advising appointments. As Lorain CCC continues work toward a full launch, staff will be working closely with our team to create and implement a promotional plan that will encourage student adoption. The time invested to prepare and enable Lorain CCC staff will enhance their work to improve student progression through guided pathways and build deeper relationships between their staff, advisors and students.

RELATED: 5 Tips for a Successful Student Rollout

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Lucy Kellison, Partner Experience Manager

Lucy's career in education began in the classroom as a 7th-grade teacher in Memphis, Tennessee. Returning to Austin, Lucy worked in legislative affairs and higher education policy while pursuing her Masters of Public Affairs from the LBJ School at UT Austin. Lucy is currently a Partner Experience Manager supporting Civitas partners in their student success efforts.