Blog: Tips & Tricks

Successfully Rolling out Taskstream: A ‘Model’ Model to Consider

Tiffany Phagan September 21, 2015

For the third time in 10 years, I stood in front of our faculty to introduce a new, online assessment management system. There were a few new faces that seemed to want to give me the benefit of the doubt, but most of the eyes trained on me as I rose to welcome them to the rollout of the Accountability Management System (AMS) by Taskstream were familiar, weary, resigned.

The resignation in the room was warranted. In past rollouts of prior assessment management systems, we convened the faculty to carefully demonstrate how to input assessment plans online, and then sent them back to their offices with printable user guides to 1) attempt to repeat what they had learned in our session 2) when they could find time to circle back to assessment 3) by the deadline we set. We fought a losing battle. Phone calls from faculty needing help were overwhelming; complaints about the rollout process were numerous; compliance was low.

They say, “Third time’s the charm”. I clung to that superstitious hope… and to the more rational hope that our new rollout model would win over our faculty.

The rollout of Taskstream was, indeed, well-received. Very well-received. I attribute our success to the following:

We set faculty up for an immediate “win” by:

  • Providing them with Word templates of their Taskstream workspaces as “homework” to complete in advance; faculty brought the completed templates with them, transferring their assessment documentation from their templates into Taskstream as we walked them through the workspace step by step
  • Scheduling a full morning for the session, allotting sufficient time to complete assessment input into Taskstream; faculty left the session with their assessment documentation finalized
  • Showing them what the finished product would look like before taking them through the process
  • Having faculty publish their completed workspaces and email themselves the workspace link before they left the session; they were able to share this link with peers and leadership

We put the right support in place by:

  • Inviting a Taskstream representative to attend the rollout training session to field questions that we could not; no one left the session with questions unanswered
  • Asking senior academic leadership to kick off the kickoff, lending even more credibility
  • Assigning someone to ensure that everyone attending the workshop had proper access to workspaces; last minute substitutions are not uncommon
  • Making ‘loaner’ laptops available to ensure that everyone had their own laptop/device
  • Designating helpers to support stragglers, with nearby breakout rooms to hold impromptu ‘straggler sessions’
  • Designating a helper to answer questions of the ‘go getters’ working ahead of the group
  • Providing plenty of coffee and nourishment

As we closed the morning session and thanked those in attendance, resignation had turned to resolve. Our faculty had toiled alongside one another in the template trenches and had won this assessment battle together. Their collective sigh of relief was our sweet sound of victory.

Tiffany Phagan is the Director of Academic Assessment at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She earned an M.S. in Environmental Economics and a B.A. in Political Science, International Studies, and Anthropology from Michigan State University. Tiffany served in the US Peace Corps (Thailand) from 1989-1991. She is the grateful mother of a 15-year-old who recently received a heart transplant.