Let’s Talk about Education (and ProcessMaker)

By | October 24, 2012 | Education, ProcessMaker

Education. Race to the Top. Arne Duncan. Teacher evaluations. School autonomy. Math and science. International competition. While election day in the U.S. rapidly approaches, we hardly read or hear of the former as leading stories in the media. Education was discussed in the second and third presidential debates, but to a limited degree, and not with the focus it deserves. If the American political conversation is giving short shrift to education, the conversation at Colosa is not.

Colosa has teamed with a number of universities like the Universidad Mayor de San André (UMSA), University of Melbourne, and National University of Colombia (Medellín) who have implemented ProcessMaker. In a world that is increasingly demanding faster and better results from its organizations, educational institutions are no exception. Schools are very process-heavy. Be it student enrollment, student applications or scholarship applications there is a great need to automate workflows.

UMSA, the largest university in Bolivia, educates over 75,000 students. In addition to providing diplomas to all its own undergraduate and graduate students, UMSA also issues diplomas to high school and private university students. The diploma request process was causing a headache for administrators. One request required approval from 8 to 13 administrators. One request consisted of one paper document. One request took between 1 to 3 months for approval, while leaving students in the dark as to their application’s status. And one physical location kept on-file all requests.

Unacceptable, the university decided to automate the process. ProcessMaker fixed these problems. Students (undergraduate, graduate, and private) now request a diploma by filling out personal information directly in ProcessMaker, which then routes the information electronically to responsible parties for verification and approval. Once all the necessary approvals have been received, ProcessMaker generates the diploma itself. What is more, when a faculty member or administrator finds a mistake, ProcessMaker automatically sends an email to the student advising how to fix the mistake, a custom feature ProcessMaker developed to meet UMSA’s requirements.

The system runs more efficiently and more transparently. Students can see exactly where their application stands in the process. Communication workflows are reduced and strengthened; it requires less coordination between administrators to successfully issue a diploma. And it is completely digitized.

As nitty-gritty or as removed from the classroom a diploma request process may seem, the value of improving educational workflows cannot be underestimated. When we improve the efficiency of how a school functions, we are improving the value of education. For a myriad of reasons — local, state and federal budget cuts, technology advancements, a growing population, among many others — education is changing and education must change. The problem, how to educate effectively, very well the single most important issue of the day, can only be solved if our educational institutions are smarter and more efficient.

EdAutomate, an OEM partner of Colosa, is paving the way to smarter and more efficient schools. Facing an Illinois state mandate vis-á-vis teacher evaluation methodologies, Bloomington Public Schools District sought out a document management solution to handle the fresh flood of forms as a result of the new requirements. They found a partner in Ed Automate who had already developed ProcessMaker tools in the district. The solution which combines Amazon’s cloud and ProcessMaker automation has reduced the time to collate and compile evaluations. Further, the unique system frees Bloomington from being stuck with the eventual statewide model, thereby giving them the autonomy and power to test, refine and ultimately improve functionalities as the process matures.

Time is money. But time is also knowledge. Less administration time for teachers is more time they can spend thinking about their students; more time creating creative curricula; more time answering questions. Whether it’s a diploma request process, a teacher evaluation workflow, a financial aid distribution workflow or course scheduling and enrollment workflow, we are improving on the status-quo when we implement a 21st century automated solution. These changes, small or large, reach students — perhaps in longer office hours, perhaps in an email responded to a day earlier, perhaps in less stressed teachers and administrators. This, in the end, is what’s most important.