CollegeSource has a long history with the AACRAO Transfer conference. We were the sole sponsor of the very first AACRAO Transfer conference back in January of 2008, and we continued as the primary sponsor when the Transfer and Technology conferences combined in 2012. (Next year will mark the 10th Transfer conference and the 14th Technology conference!) In nine years of being the primary sponsor, we have seen a lot of change, but the technology and transfer challenges facing colleges and universities are, if anything, more daunting than they were in 2008. Schools have gotten far more sophisticated with their transfer and tech solutions, but flagging financial support for public education and the changing needs of students has kept institutions on their toes.
Attendance at the conference was a little sparse this year, partly due to a relatively last minute change of venue for which AACRAO should be applauded. Discriminatory policies issued by the government of North Carolina contradicted core values of the organization and forced AACRAO to move the conference to New Orleans. Jim Bouse, current President of AACRAO, and Mike Reilly, AACRAO Executive Director, read a joint statement to set the tone for the event, affirming that AACRAO will not compromise the value it places on diversity and inclusivity. The statement was met with enthusiastic applause.
Some highlights from this year’s conference include:
- AACRAO’s introduced its new Innovation Hub, a featured track of sessions focused on emerging technologies such as Blockchain, Data Visualization, Data Integration, and Chatbots.
- Scott Berinato, author of Good Charts: The HBR Guide to Making Smarter, More Persuasive Data Visualizations, delivered a killer talk on why the pictures of data we present matter and how they influence decision making, for good or ill. Even though his talk was interrupted by an emergency drill, I think everyone returned for “part two.”
- Solution providers and AACRAO met to discuss best practices in respecting gender, pronouns, and other data elements that touch on identity preferences when collecting/handling student information.
- And, of course, amazing technology presentations from attendees on everything from e-diplomas to using AIs in student service as well as best practices presentations on building budget-conscious, high-tech, responsive transfer student intake processes.
It’s possible that in 2017 transfer is something we have largely have a good grip on, at least when compared to where we were in 2008. Certainly CollegeSource has played a role in making transfer a more viable option for many students. Last year students and faculty put in hundreds of thousands of hours in TES and Transferology, establishing and researching transfer pathways. Knowing what to do and being able/equipped to do it, however, is not the same thing. Many institutions still struggle without tools either from CollegeSource or another source. And even with good tools, complicated transfer scenarios such as dual attendance, duplication of credit, reverse transfer and post-enrollment degree awards, etc. remain areas where we could improve our performance as a collective whole.
Professional development opportunities like the AACRAO Technology & Transfer conference are more critical than ever and we hope to see you there in 2018. CollegeSource is proud to be a part of making this conference happen and we look forward to seeing it grow.