37: Academic Exploration Tool at University of Kentucky w/ Tyler Gayheart

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Tyler Gayheart, Director of Strategic Communication at the University of Kentucky discusses the work they’re doing to make their academic program listings more than a mere directory, but a truly exploratory tool for the undecided student.

I think that's the core of the storyhere in terms of the content governance, we really even the playing fild foreveryone, you're, listening to enrolment growth,university from heliks education, the best professional development podcastfor higher education leaders looking to grow in Roman at their college oruniversity, whether you're looking for fresh and romant growth techniques andstrategies or tools and resources. You've come to the right place. Let'sget into the show, welcome back to an Roman GrowthUniversity, a proud member of the connect Edu podcast network, I'Mari,Golson ABP of marketing at pelics education and were here today withTyler Gayhart Director of strategic communication at the University ofKentucky Tyler. Welcome to the show hey how you doing really excited to talkwith you today about the work you're doing making your acdemic programlistings more than a mere directory, but a truly exploratory tool,especially for those students who are still undecided before we dig into thatTyler. Can you give the listeners a little better understanding of both theUniversity of Kentucky and your rule there yeah, so the UniversityofKentucky is located in Lexington Kentucky. We are a research oneinstitution and we have over two hundred academic degree programsavailable to students in rolling here. Awesome awesome, so most institutions,academic program listings are acceptable at helping students locate aspecific degree they're looking for, but talk about how you wanted to createa tool that offers more than just selection but true, acdemic explorationyeah. So we have a long history of communicating our degree programs toour undergraduate students and even our graduate and professional students, and for you know, as long as we can traceback the founding tenants of the Internet, we would display these majorsin some categorical way. Alphabetically split, but most of this, as you lookacross highered, is expressed through.

What we know is major sheets, and thosemajor sheets are typically hosted, has pdf and that's where we were or thebetter part of a decade, and it mostly would represent the same process of youwalking into a office and spinning a Carocell to grab one of those majorsheets. We basically expressed it on the Internet and we found anopportunity to really look at the research look at our analytics. We knewthat our major degree program pages at the Universityof Kentucky were secondor third, most visited and frequented website at the institution across theenterprise. So we looked at the research we spoke to our students. Wespoke with our facilty and staff and our advisors, and we also turn to somekind of external research to say you know what is a exploratory student orwhat is a perspective student really want to hear about, and every bit ofresearch we found the Rouhoanno elevets eexpectations report both pointed tokind of the campus environment and then most, if not every piece of research wefound academic programming kept popping up and through that we identified someof the content areas and started to plug away started to really rethink theway that we wrote that content we displayed that content and then, afterwe built the taxonomy and a basically a database of all of that information, westarted working backards to find ways that students can connectwith that information. Yeah. Let's talk specifically about how the toolinfluence your content creation, because now, with your tool, studentshave the option to enter answers to I like to blank, or I want to be a blank,and then you present potential program option matches based on their inputs.How has knowing, where they're, coming from the fact that they're trulyexploring and that convinced Yo yt of any specific program? How has thatinfluence the content you've presented on those follow pages from a persuasionstandpoint? So, from the perspective of the I like to se, I want to be a I'msearching for and then kind of the...

...brows all the I like to focused onthose noncognitivts right. So, most of the time when we spoke t an advisor, wespoke to a recruiter. They focused on things about what you want to studyrather than those non cognitives which, through the research and as we look at,looked at the kind of resources that were available from oute Knoxwilles.What can I do with my major? We heavily focused on matching with the studentskind of personal noncognitive preference for what they want to study.So things like I like to help others I like to be outside, I like to becreative, I like to teach others or crunch numbers or sob problems. Thosewere things that across the board is we built this platform. The colleges orthe representatives who were managing those degree programs could easily tagtheir program with those noncognitive phrases. Likewise, with the kind ofcareer keywords or the major keywords, we were able to load those into thesystem, allow the program manager to assign those keywords so that when astudent went into search, it would match with those degree programs todate we have had over a hundred a eleven thousand program, Major Keywormatches, we've had over twenty eightthousand noncognitve phrase,matches and interest, bace searches and so and beyond that over forty fourhousand career keyword, searches, and so one of the stretch, goalds of theprogram, was to really give a sense of what our students are searching for andthen retroactively or proactively. Rather, going back and updating thosekeywords, things like when the first month that we launched we saw thatstudents were searching for astronaut. Well, we didn't put astronaut into ourkeyword, search Bak and there were a few programs over in the collegebeengineering that certainly could match with interest o an engineeringdegree that would leave a student into the career of being an astronaut. Sothere are a number of kind of content,...

...governent questions that come up. Thereare a lot of questions about who owns what keyword come up all veryinteresting as we built a tool that is centrally managed from a technicalstack but crowd sourced in terms of a community tool for users to update it,uses taxonomy level permissions so that you, the College of Engineering, onlyupdate and manage your particular programs ye the governence questionsare super interesting to me, because, right now, if I type in keyword searchusing your tool, I search for the word biology. It returns twelve differentpotential undergraduate majors for me that incorporates biology either withinthe criculum or those keywords. As you describe talk about the benefits ofthat kind of serch return diversity during the academic exploration stagefor a student Yeh, so we know that there's a acertain sense of kind of ambiguity that comes with trying to select a nature,and we wanted this tol to be both instructive in a kind of an advisoradvise Senarrio and also very intuitive from a student searching from home fromtheir laptop or their Mobil evice. So we wanted it. We wanted to give theusers every opportunity to be able to search based on multiple criterionright, so either the noncognitive phrases of the career keywords or theprogram keywords beyond that. There are Amazon like filters as you get on thelanding page for the search results to filter down even more so that wassomething that we thought really long and heard about in terms of giving theusers a really kind of quick and cards sortable. If you land on the page, itkind of has this instagram like fill in terms of our Pintrese like fill interms of how the cards are sorted and how they land. We also spend a lot oftime on content governance in terms of...

...most of our degree program.Descriptions were written in a very technical and dry way, so we spent along time rewriting those short descriptions so that a they wereconsumable by our target audience, but also scrollable on a mobile device.Really interesting, really interesting. Tyler your tool, also utilizes. TheBureau of Labor Statistics, Open Api, talk about what that integration allowsyou to do from a data and medidative perspective within your tool. Yeso, welooked at a lot of different tools out there glass door. I think at one pointwe started thinking about using Linkein, and the one thing that was reallyinteresting is that the bls Duga, the beer of labor and Statistics has anopen API and updates that data on a fairly regular basis, and we knew thatthat information was available to us and we could start to crosswalk or matthose careers to our academic degree programs and so through an exml feed.We were able to identify some of the most frequented information workingwith our career center to say: Okay. Well, when you meet with a student,what are the things they're most looking for right, so median salary,number of jobs, Tenour job outlook, the work environment and what are thesimilar occupations? So we feed that information directly into the academicexploration tool and allow for that college user to select up to fivecareers to feature on their page. So if you visit accounting, you will see thatone of the feature careers that they have is accountants and auditors, andthat information is fed directly from the beer of labor and Statistics, andso it separates our responsibility for maintaining that content, knowing thatit changes and the best source of that information is the Buer of labor andStatistics and really kind of evens the playing filld for some of those units.I think that's the core of the story here in terms of the content governance,we really even the playing field for...

...everyone to hop onto a centralizedplatform to communicate and really promote their acanemic degree programs,regardless of the marketing web communication resourcesthat were available to them. It's really interesting. W you've mentionedweb governance quite a few times. Aree in this discussion, creating this toolreally kind of forced that issue to come into the forefront, because allthese academic templates had to match to make the tool work. How did youmaneuver those web governess discussions and are you? Are youpleased with the result that this kind of helped to further centralize, atleast your academic communication governance? A bit? I think that's justlike any project, especially an IT project. You're, never done it'sconstant improvement, and so with our content, knowing that it's a living,breathing thing and that degree programs are absolutely dynamic withthe Co curriculaar curricular student stories, and so we always strive tocommunicate and work with our what we call aet authors to keep their contentupdated, make sure it's fresh, make sure they're integrating in relevantstories, relevant videos, relevant images and just staying on top of that.So I think that's something that we're never done with. I am pleased with howthe content authors responded to some of the templets that we presented tothem. So, for example, when we released this tool, we basically gave a blankLor mipsom template for each one of the degree programs to the communicator, inthat you know relative office or relative college, and some came backwith some really really kind of creative ways to display thisinformation, where math started, using statistical notation in the the topstatistics and the top and and biology...

...and engineering came back with somevery kind of creative ways to display their information as well. So knowingthat we gave them the content guard rails to follow, and they didn't justcopy and pace from their major sheet pdf that they really took the time to express and display their content onthis page with kind of care and intentionality really spoke volumes forthose programs to then turn around and act as the example for for otherprogram. So it's kind of a self serving system in terms of content,governance, and you can always point to really good example. SOM. We continueto point to really good examples on the platform, knowing that folks areupdating it and managing it every single day. Now this isn't the wildwest. We came up with a nice revisioning process, similar to hownewsrooms and news stands managed their content. So when a content authorcontributes and edit, it goes into a Q and my team doesn't review it forcontent, but we review it for the length there's any broken html. Ifthere's any broken images and making sure that there's you know no typos oranything of that nature, and then we publish it so there's this kind offeedback, loop and there's also kind of a community around this as well reallygood stuff. Tyler. You've already mentioned how you're utilizinganalytics already to improve the tool in terms of seeing what search resultsare ar coming in that you don't have matches for any other results that youcan report on so far in terms of how this tool is improving. He theserexperience compared to your traditional listings, page before it yeah. So lastsummer our institution moved from an undeclared, major and undecided majorwhat we calld undergraduate studies into multiple opportunities forstudents to be exploratory in our colleges, and we had never been in thehabit of proactively asking students to...

...think about moving majors. And we werefaced with the challenge to proactively communicatted students, who hadselected the undeclared option to encourage them to select an exploratorymajor in one of these colleges. And we knew that there would have to be kindof intrusive, advising one on one advising conversations and meetingswith those students to help produce their uncertainty. About what majorthat they're selecting and we went on n a campaign. We went on a email anddirect marketing campaign to encourage those students to select a major asthey're coming in for their summer orientation and through that weleveraged the academic exploration tool to help a base of students who wereundecided to select a degree program and over twenty three percent of thosestudents within the first four to five weeks of that communication. Plan andstrategy started to select a program based on their exploration and findingsin the academic exploration tool. There were also a lot of conversations andadvising that took place with that, but a lot of the kind of independentadvising and tools to help as student explore were found in the acdemicexploration too. So we're really proud of the tools being used to not onlyhelp a perspective student shop and kind of learn what they want to do asit relates to their career as it relates to their interest and as itrelates to the kind of how the career looks across the United States andother areas, but how it's really changed the nature of how ourexploratory advisors advise. There is an advisor over in our cre center,whose job it is to advise students around decided to our exporatory, andthis cool is the academic exporation tool is a tool and in their arsenal, soto speak, to advise and break the ice...

...with the students. When a student comesin and says, I want to be a graphic designer, they can kind of use this toall to break the eyes. It's awesome. I love those use cases and it's suchencouraging early results. Tyler thanks! So much what's the best place forlisteners to connect with you if they have any followed questions, sure theycan connect with me on twitter atd Joseph Gayhart awesome thanks againstso much for joining us today. Tyler. Thank you so much attracting today'snew post, traditional learners means adopting new enrolmant strategies.Keeloks educations data driven enterprise, wide approach to enrolmentgrowth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this neweducation, landscape and Helex has just published the second edition of theirenrollment growth playbook, with fifty percent brand new content on howinstitutions can solve today's most pressing enromant growth challengesdownload it today for free at Helocks, Educationcom playbook you've been listening to enromentgrowth university from helics education to ensure that you never miss anepisode subscribe to the show in Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thankyou so much for listening until next time.

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