Over the last several weeks, the implementation team has made considerable progress in setting initial configurations in Starfish. This work has involved broad discussions among our team members about appointment types, speed notes (a simplified way to document appointment outcomes), roles and permissions for users of the system, and a variety of other items. While configurations are relatively simple to change, it’s important to recognize that these settings are for the University as a whole. Accordingly, we are attempting to find the right balance between the specific needs of a unit versus configurations that work well for all academic units at Penn State. To gather input beyond our implementation team, a series of demonstrations were held with key advising personnel from all colleges and campuses. Though time intensive, this effort revealed not only some items that need to be tweaked but also allowed us to hear very positive feedback from advisers regarding the functionality of Starfish. With the input gathered during these demonstrations, the implementation team will revisit configurations to make improvements to our initial set up. The long-term intention is to revisit configurations on an annual basis to determine if changes are warranted.
Through these demonstrations we also sensed a general excitement for the launch of Starfish. In particular, the idea of a single repository for advising notes is viewed by academic advisers as a very positive development. Additionally, the power to improve communications between students, academic advisers, and instructors is considered a very significant step toward better supporting students. The Starfish implementation is on track to be ready for academic advisers during New Student Orientation (NSO) in May 2016. This includes training for academic advisers that will be rolled out in advance of NSO. A larger and more comprehensive training initiative on the full range of Starfish functionality will occur in August and September with the intention of better reaching instructors as well as academic advisers.