Founded in 1890, UCO is Oklahoma’s oldest institution of higher learning, and with more than 17,000 students, they are the state’s third largest university. UCO is located on a 210-acre campus in Edmond, Okla., a northern suburb in the Oklahoma City Metropolitan Area.
The Center for Undergraduate Academic Advisement at the University of Central Oklahoma experienced long wait times and congestion during orientation activities. Students might need to wait two hours or more to see an advisor or financial aid counselor, and they’d usually wait in the lobby of the Advisement Center to ensure they didn’t miss their name call. University staff would have to sign in students on a paper wait list, and then call out their name at the appointment time. The keeper of the wait list was the only one with immediate visibility to the students’ wait times, and tracking down the next student was tough when they were sitting on the lobby floor and spilling into the hallway during record-breaking enrollment. UCO needed to find a way to check students in for advisement, then release them to wait somewhere else or conduct other business instead of being bound to the lobby.
UCO selected Long Range System’s browser-based wireless solution called NetPage Unlimited that allowed them to communicate via onsite paging, SMS text messaging or through email notifications. UCO uses NetPage Unlimited during the Center for Undergraduate Academic Advisement walk-in periods prior to the start of each semester and academic orientation events. In both cases, students are checked in, then released so they can go to the bookstore, meet with Financial Aid advisors, buy lunch or have coffee at nearby locations. When an advisor is free to meet, the student is paged for the appointment.
The system has four components: NetPage Unlimited Server software installed on a single networked PC, Transmit Controllers connected to the network and placed throughout the facility where pager messages are received, alphanumeric pagers, and user licenses required for any staff member who has a pager, needs to send messages or must have access to the wait list. Because NetPage Unlimited runs in a standard web browser not confined to a PC, Mac or Linux-based computer, anyone on the Local Area Network (LAN) with a web browser can use it.
“The reaction from staff and students has been exclusively positive. In August 2011, the lobby had open chairs for the first time in years. Advisors and managers are thrilled with the monitoring capabilities that NetPage Unlimited provides.
Advisors now have the power to monitor the wait list and page their own students from their offices, and supervisors can monitor the list remotely to identify when a student’s wait time is excessive. Students are glad they no longer have to wait in the lobby, and releasing them to conduct other business is the next best thing to eliminating the wait altogether.
An unanticipated side benefit was the check-in process is entirely paperless, which is more in line with the university’s commitment to environmental consciousness. Because all LRS products are compatible, they can use coaster pagers if students don’t have a cell phone or don’t want to give out the number, which helps minimize maintenance costs.
Ultimately, NetPage Unlimited has greatly improved process efficiency by reducing backlogging and giving students freedom and flexibility to accomplish other tasks instead of waiting in the lobby for hours.
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