University of Nebraska State Authorization Dashboard

Author Information
Todd Karr
Wesley Juranek
Institution(s) or Organization(s) Where EP Occurred: 
University of Nebraska
Effective Practice Abstract/Summary
Abstract/Summary of Effective Practice: 

Open-source, web-based portal to manage and communicate state authorization status to a single or multiple campuses of a university system. The State Authorization Dashboard is a three-tiered system that includes a public interface, an authenticated faculty/staff interface, and an authenticated administrator interface. Each level of the dashboard can be updated simultaneously in real-time, allowing for the immediate dissemination of information to interested parties.

Description of the Effective Practice
Description of the Effective Practice: 

The University of Nebraska (NU) is a multi-campus institution and each campus is separately accredited by the Higher Learning Commission. In 2010, NU created the University of Nebraska Online Worldwide (NUOW) – a system-level partnership that pulls together the combined online program strength of the academic campuses to serve more students in and out of the state of Nebraska via distance education. State requirements to be authorized to enroll students in a distance program vary.

The State Authorization Dashboard was created to address the need to effectively and efficiently keep faculty, staff, and potential students updated on the status of compliance related to the ability of NU to enroll students outside of the state of Nebraska in its distance education programs. Given the complexity of state regulations and the large portfolio of NU’s online offerings, NU needed a well-organized system to centralize, communicate and keep current program status and information.

This portal allows NU faculty and staff to access up-to-date information regarding the current authorization status of individual programs in individual states. The portal also serves as the data source for the public website that seeks to inform potential students regarding the compliance and availability of online programs offered by the University of Nebraska in their state of residence. The NUOW State Authorization Dashboard is an open-source, web-based portal that has been licensed under Creative Commons and the source code is available to universities who are interested in installing the application on their campus.

Supporting Information for this Effective Practice
Evidence of Effectiveness: 

Since the launch of the State Authorization Dashboard in February 2015, the public dashboard has seen over 400 unique visits from potential students, faculty, and staff. Administrative staff also report that the dashboard has resulted in fewer inquiries regarding state authorization from academic and faculty advisors across the University.

The contribution to the field is important for NU. As such, the number of institutions requesting and implementing the dashboard outside of the University of Nebraska is a measurement of meeting that goal. In the first three months of the tool’s development, nearly 10 different institutions have requested a preview and information regarding incorporating the dashboard as part of their own state authorization effort. Two institutions are currently in various stages of implementing the dashboard - one a campus, the other a university system.

How does this practice relate to pillars?: 

Learning Effectiveness
The development of the State Authorization Dashboard addresses the need for the institution to efficiently and effectively respond to the individual state authorization requirements of each state. By streamlining the process of informing faculty, staff, and administrators of the nuances of state authorization, the institution is better able to advise students, allocate departmental resources, and develop a strategic plan for adjusting to the state authorization environment.

The dashboard has centralized and automated the process of managing and disseminating information regarding regulatory compliance in the delivery of online programs for the University of Nebraska. As NU expands the portfolio of online offerings (currently over 100) and inquiries for those programs increase, the dashboard will provide a seamless mechanism to communicate current information regardless of demand.

Faculty Satisfaction
NU faculty also serve as advisors in many of its programs. The challenge faced in regulatory compliance was the ever changing requirements and the ability to reach those who needed that information. The dashboard is an effective tool that quickly disseminates state authorization to faculty, staff, and administration in real-time.

Student Satisfaction
The consequences of non-compliance can be significant for the institution, but more importantly for the student. NU is committed to student success and to complying with all state requirements in order to ensure that success. The dashboard provides a prospective student quick access to that ‘proceed or not’ information. Consequently, the prospective student is able to make an informed decision that focuses on their academic goals.

Equipment necessary to implement Effective Practice: 

In order to implement the dashboard an institution will need access to a server as well as internal IT support. Any institution who is interested in having access to the dashboard open source code for their own campus, University of Nebraska Online Worldwide will offer additional IT support in order to transfer the dashboard code and trouble-shoot any technical issues that might arise. Once the dashboard has been launched, it is the responsibility of the dashboard administrator to ensure that the information contained within the dashboard is up-to-date. Internal IT support will be required to maintain the dashboard should any issues arise after implementation. A web-enabled device will be necessary for faculty, staff, and prospective students to access the dashboard.

Estimate the probable costs associated with this practice: 

There are no direct purchase costs associated with the State Authorization Dashboard as the code required to run the program is open source. NU’s development of the dashboard required approximately 700 hours of staff time. An estimate for institutional implementation and customization of the dashboard would be around 300 IT/administrative staff hours.

Other Comments: 

Since the State Authorization Dashboard is an authenticated system of the University of Nebraska we are happy to demonstrate the dashboard via a web chat for any interested colleagues and/or the committee.

Contact(s) for this Effective Practice
Effective Practice Contact: 
Todd Karr
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Effective Practice Contact 2: 
Wesley Juranek
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