Schools digitize to improve education quality

February 22nd, 2013 | Posted by Kevin Corley in Document Management | Information Management

More education systems are digitizing documents to preserve critical information while making it more widely accessible and affordable to students.

Campus Technology reported that the Brown Mackie College System, which consists of 28 campuses in 15 states and is responsible for more than 17,000 students, recently made the transition to an electronic document management system that will make textbooks available online. Danny Finuf, president of Brown Mackie College, told the news source that he predicts that every student and faculty member will be working from an iPad by early summer. The objective for digitization was to improve the overall academic experience by making it easier and less expensive for students to obtain books. Finuf estimated that students are saving approximately $200 per quarter by gaining electronic access to these materials.

Information preservation and accessibility
Other colleges are implementing digitization projects to preserve history and enhance learning. According to The New School Free Press, The New School archivists digitized nearly 900 course catalogs dating back to the university's founding and made them available online. So far, more than 100 catalogs can be viewed on the Archives' website. The New School Archives and Special Collections, which reveal the college's century-old history, were previously forgotten, and vulnerable to damage as they became fragile with age. After an inventory was taken of all the records, approximately 70,000 pages were scanned using document imaging software and examined by Archivists for any quality errors. Now, New School alumni can search through past class offerings before enrolling in courses, and students can find historical speeches from professors for research purposes.

Archive collections have been organized by the school's division so they are more searchable and convenient to find, such as The Kellen Design Archives. In an interview with the news source, Wendy Scheir, director of The Kellen Archives, stated that after recognizing an opportunity for improvement in the library's inventory processes, she requested permission for digitization of the archives. She told The Free Press that she chose to start the project with the digitization of class catalogs dating from the first year of operations, which lists every class and professor in the university's history. While many of the scanned course catalogs can already be found on the Archives and Special Collections website, Scheir asserted that digitization is a continual process.

"So much happens in the digital universe that files like this can become obsolete in only a number of years," Scheir said. "It's an ongoing management challenge rather than a one-term project."

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