Technology and Transfer Credit
8. Technology and Transfer Credit
Some institutions use Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) to send and/or receive student records electronically. The sending institutions map and encode their transcripts, using an agreed standard. This is then encrypted and transmitted electronically. The receiving institution receives, decodes and acknowledges the transcript. The EDI process requires significant set-up effort but, where volumes are high, the benefits justify the cost. Currently, partners in BC use an encrypted internet transmission protocol via the University of Texas at Austin operating under the authority of the American Association of Collegiate Registrars and Admissions Officers (AACRAO). Recent transcript volumes were considerable:
Transcript volume 2007
|The advantage with this format is that a receiving institution may import an entire student record without the need to re-key it and hence may assess every course the applicant has taken for possible transfer credit, using the automation provided in its SIS. This is a faster and more accurate way to ensure that all applicants receive transfer credit according to the published articulation agreements.||Sending and receiving transcripts electronically is a faster and more accurate way to ensure that all applicants receive transfer credit according to the published articulation agreements.|
Recently there has been concern that the U.S. Patriot Act, enacted after this process was adopted, makes the internet transmission via a US university potentially insecure, despite the strong encryption used. The concern would be equally valid if the same routing was used with the more sophisticated XML format being adopted widely in the USA. Efforts to expand the use of EDI have therefore been temporarily suspended, pending a solution to the routing of student data between BC institutions.
BCcampus manages a service known as the Post-Secondary Application Service of BC (PASBC). It is based on a federated network of servers (Porter, 2006) that integrates the student's admission application with the transmission of a student record. While this probably does not directly affect course articulation, it could replace the current EDI process and be scalable so as to have significant impact on admission processes and the assessment of unarticulated courses for transfer credit throughout the BC post-secondary system.
The Connector project design allows institutions to choose which of twelve separate transactions to utilize, where each transaction represents a distinct business process in their students' interactions with their respective educational institutions. It is based on a core group of three student-centred transactions, initiated when a student applies for admission to a BCcampus partner institution or requests to take a course as a visiting student:
- validates student identity (confirms he/she has a record at that institution)
- gets the student's record and moves it to another institution of choice
- shows courses available at the second institution. (An institution may choose to make some courses widely available to students of other institutions.)
Current discussions are occurring on the nature of the academic record that is to be released to a member institution. The institutions prefer to receive a full secondary and post-secondary record, including any awarded transfer credit for a student or applicant who has previously attended a BCcampus partner institution or a BC secondary school.
This development promises to yield dividends to those public institutions that have already implemented the transfer credit automation modules in their SIS and provides a strong incentive for the remainder to do so.
|Automated transfer credit evaluationsystem modules are available to institutions that use a proprietary SIS package, such as SCT Banner, but few BC institutions have yet implemented them. Some institutions such as UBC have built their own transfer evaluation systems with considerable success. This technology does not directly affect course articulation, but can yield fast, consistent service to transfer students. The implementation effort is considerable, but for a large receiving institution it is a worthwhile investment.||Automated transfer credit evaluation system modules yield, fast consistent service to transfer students.|
e.g. SFU's highly positive experience with such automation dates back to 1990, when that institution designed and built its own automated evaluation software. Based on simple but massive tables, the software automatically calculated a transfer average and assigned all appropriate transfer credit in a fraction of a second.Â (Although the proprietary system that replaced this legacy system boasted similar functionality, its generic nature and multiplicity of steps has, so far, been unable to match the efficiency of the older software for this task.)
As a result of this commitment to automated evaluations, even if a sending institution is not an EDI partner, the entire student transcript is routinely keyed into the SFU SIS in order to determine whether the work will receive transfer credit and to calculate an admission grade point average (GPA). Precedents are identified and assessed quickly and those courses with no match in the transfer tables are assessed separately and later set up in the SIS as possible future precedents. If the curriculum were to remain static both at the home institution and elsewhere, eventually precedents should exist for most courses encountered, but this is unrealistic because curriculum change is always ongoing.
Transfer applicants often need to know when their transcripts were sent by the sending institution and when they were received at their destinations. A typical modern SIS can show an applicant each supporting document required and the date it was sent or received.