Higher Ed Market Headlines

SunGard Higher Education Announces Availability of Course Signals

Early Intervention System Helps Strengthen Student Retention
MALVERN, Pa, October 11, 2010 — Course Signals, an early intervention system that warns students who are at risk of underperforming in a course and facilitates faculty intervention and support, is now available to higher education institutions through a joint effort by SunGard Higher Education and Purdue University.  The effort is an example of SunGard Higher Education’s Open Digital Campus strategy, which encourages collaboration among customers and with the company.

Course Signals is built upon a predictive model developed by John Campbell, Ph.D, associate vice president, academic technologies, at Purdue University.  The solution allows an institution to combine information already available within campus systems (including student information systems, learning management systems and gradebooks) to determine whether a student is at risk of failing or withdrawing from a course as early as the second week of the semester or quarter.  Based on the data, the solution displays a red, yellow or green signal to students and faculty, indicating a student’s status in a course in real time.  A red light indicates a high likelihood of failing a course; yellow indicates a potential problem of succeeding; and green signals a high likelihood of succeeding.  Students view the signal within the institution’s learning management system and also receive it via e-mail.  Along with the signal, students receive suggested resources and recommended courses of action from faculty as needed. 

An example of SunGard’s Open Digital Campus strategy, which aims to give institutions more flexibility to shape how technology meets their evolving needs, Course Signals is architected to be compatible with a variety of student information systems and learning management systems.  In the initial release, Course Signals will work with SunGard Higher Education’s Banner Digital Campus and Oracle’s PeopleSoft student information systems.  It also supports various releases of learning management systems from Blackboard Inc., reflecting the goals of the partnership between SunGard Higher Education and Blackboard to deliver better integration and support services to mutual customers.  Integration with other student and learning management systems is planned. 

“The predictive model in Course Signals gives students a good indication very early in the course of how they are performing, and whether they are starting to lag behind others in the class.  This very early alert to the student is extremely valuable, even in populations where you might not think it is necessary,” said Mr. Campbell.  “Signals is helping Purdue improve retention rates by identifying underperforming students early on and providing them with course-specific advice on how to change their trajectory.”

At Metropolitan Community College-Kansas City (MCC), a beta site for Course Signals, key benefits of the solution include its ability to pull demographic information from the college’s PeopleSoft student information system into the predictive model, and its ease of use for faculty.

“We have a lot of students who are the first in their families to attend college, or who have other demographics that indicate they might be at risk early on,” said Tuesday Stanley, Ph.D., vice chancellor of administrative services and student development at MCC.  “The other solutions we have seen only consider grades when identifying at-risk students.  The inclusion of demographics, as well as effort, is a critical piece of the equation in helping these students succeed.  Also, Course Signals streamlines the process for faculty making it easier for them to reach out to students who need extra support.  Other solutions require faculty to do considerable upfront work to set it up and are cumbersome to execute.”

“Institutions are facing increased pressure to improve retention and graduation rates.  In fact, many states are tying improvements in retention and graduation rates to enrollment funding,” said Tom Wagner, vice president of product management and strategy for SunGard Higher Education’s retention and student success offerings.  “Course Signals’ built-in, customizable predictive model, and its focus on faculty and course-level success, is a critical addition to traditional early warning systems as well as to other retention-related solutions and services from SunGard Higher Education.”

SunGard Higher Education will present on Course Signals at the EDUCAUSE conference in Anaheim, Calif. on Tuesday, Oct. 12, at 4:15 p.m. in the SunGard exhibitor booth, #1500.

For more information about Course Signals, visit www.sungardhe.com/signals. To learn more about how SunGard Higher Education supports retention and student success initiatives, visit www.sungardhe.com/success.

About Purdue University
Purdue University is a public, doctoral-granting research university. Its main campus is in West Lafayette, Indiana. Purdue's statewide system includes five campuses and numerous teaching and research sites throughout Indiana. Purdue has a system-wide enrollment of more than 69,000 students from 50 states and 130 countries. Purdue is a leader in developing academic technologies that support student learning, scientific research and public engagement.

About Metropolitan Community College
Metropolitan Community College, founded in 1915, is the largest higher education institution in Greater Kansas City. MCC’s five campuses – Blue River, Business & Technology, Longview, Maple Woods and Penn Valley – serve more than 40,000 students annually through for-credit and non-credit courses and business services. More information can be found at www.mcckc.edu.

About SunGard Higher Education
SunGard Higher Education serves colleges, universities and foundations in 40 countries worldwide.  Through its Open Digital Campus strategy, SunGard collaborates with the higher education community and provides software and services to help institutions find better ways to teach, learn, manage and connect.  To learn more, please visit www.sungardhe.com.

About SunGard
SunGard is one of the world’s leading software and technology services companies.  SunGard has more than 20,000 employees and serves 25,000 customers in 70 countries.  SunGard provides software and processing solutions for financial services, higher education and the public sector.  SunGard also provides disaster recovery services, managed IT services, information availability consulting services and business continuity management software.  With annual revenue exceeding $5 billion, SunGard is ranked 380 on the Fortune 500 and is the largest privately held business software and IT services company. For more information, please visit www.sungard.com

Contact: Katie Kilfoyle, SunGard Higher Education, 315.524.7640, Katie.Kilfoyle@SunGardHE.com