In spring 2001, a great idea was hatched at the University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD). The idea was to create a simple, direct online system for students to keep track of their academic classes, with ease of planning and clarity of direction, as they work toward their degree.
The idea envisioned an easy, online program for students to plan for their degree requirements, to review completed coursework, to see what they had left to complete, and to understand the sequencing required. From this idea, the Graduation Planner (a comprehensive, personalized, web based, long range graduation planning system) was born.
After drawing up the first prototype models -- UMD instructor Lisa Reeves and Professor Paul Treuer joined with the U of M, Twin Cities in fall 2001, and the two campuses combined their efforts to design the Graduation Planner.
Set to launch on the UMD campus this Fall Semester, the Graduation Planner brings together essential information systems (such as: general education courses, requirements for a major, and recommended electives) into one interactive online program designed for a student's major field. The program is aimed to have a strong, positive effect on improved retention and graduation rates.
The Graduation Planner is a dynamic web based tool that simplifies the degree planning process by providing students with all the course and program requirements they need to plan for graduation. This interactive tool is shared with their adviser who can then comment on plans, letting students know if they are on track in their coursework. All UMD advisers will have the ability to view their advisee's plans, comment online, or request a printed copy for advising sessions.
Since its inception, UMD Chancellor Kathryn A. Martin has championed the Planner initiative and has played an active role in the support of its development. She envisions the Planner to be an essential part of the student advisement process and a major asset toward a timely degree completion.
"The Graduation Planner is unique because it synthesizes information from various university databases and displays it in an easy-to-read format that students can understand," said Chancellor Martin. "Now, questions like "what do I need to take to graduate and when do I need to take them" are answered upfront--saving time for the student, and giving the adviser valuable time that can be used to discuss other important issues with their advisees."
The major purpose of the personalized Graduation Planner is twofold:
Over 1,000 UMD freshmen will be introduced to the Graduation Planner in their Introduction to College Learning classes this Fall Semester. A publicity campaign reaching all students on the UMD campus is also being launched, and all UMD faculty advisers will be introduced to the Graduation Planner as a tool they can use with their advisees.
Lisa Rigoni Reeves, Assistant Director of the UMD Knowledge Management Center and a lead member of the Graduation Planner development team has this to say about the creation of the System.
"When I was an adviser, I noticed students did not know how to make a plan to achieve their academic goals, and there was not an easy way for them to take where they were in their coursework and visually plan for what was left.
So, along with Paul Treuer (director of the UMD Knowledge Management Center) we created the first prototype. From there, we joined the UMD/U of M project, team, and collaborated in building this application. The team worked incredibly hard always keeping the student in mind.
The philosophy all along was to create something easy to use technologically but also to teach students the importance of planning --
- how to take all of the information available and to review it to make the best possible choices
- how to build off of these choices
- and to understand the need for flexibility in planning.
Not all things go according to plan. What in life does not take planning--and what future employer would not benefit from employees who have this valuable skill?
I think our project team, along with valuable input from UMD Student Affairs and advisers, succeeded in making a Graduation Planner that provides a safe place for students to plan and collaborate with their advisers on the entire planning process."