Guest Post: Using OAKS To Help Manage a Department

Our guest blogger is Dr. Karen Hakim-Butt.  Dr. Hakim-Butt is the associate dean in the School of Education, Health and Human Performance.  During the 2014-2015 year she was asked to serve as the interim department chair for one of the school’s department, Health and Human Performance.


The department of Health and Human Performance has experienced explosive growth over the last number of years (in 2009 HEHP had 289 majors – in the spring of 2015 HEHP had 825 declared majors).   Since resources have not grown as numbers have, the department has had to look at doing business differently.

While attending the summer Faculty Technology Institute in 2014, I decided to use my time in the institute to help the department develop a new infrastructure, one that would work more efficiently while handling the incredible growth.  We began by developing an OAKS course for the faculty (roster, senior instructors, adjuncts) and staff.  Although still learning, after 1 year, we are running the department as if it were a course.  What follows are just some of the ways in which we are using OAKS to help the department.

We began by deciding to try to make the course one stop shopping.  Upon opening the department page on the top left one will find “NEWS”.  Publications, presentations, creative activities, due dates, etc., are posted.  It appears to be a great way to share accomplishments and remind folks about upcoming applications, deadlines, etc., without filling up ones email box.

On the top right of the department page one can find a visual of what’s in the OAKS course.  This is a living, growing project but currently we have sections on Department Meetings, with meeting minutes, readings to prepare for the meetings and a Google form to request items be added to the agendas.  In the Program Meetings category one can find minutes and agendas for all 4-degree programs in the department.  Curious what one program is working on or will be working on or want to attend a specific meeting to hear about a topic, it’s all available with a click of the mouse.  Committee meetings are organized in a similar fashion with extra private file sharing spaces and discussion boards so the committee can work on projects and prepare them for the public space.  It is also a place to post final reports from committees.

Curious as to what students have learned in a required departmental pre-requisite?  Under the Syllabi content, one can find both the most current syllabi for all courses as well as archived syllabi.

We have a special content area specifically geared toward adjuncts.  We have useful information such as contact information, tips & tricks from our wonderful technology person, Mendi, useful resources, release of liability forms for activity classes, directories, etc.  We also have training videos from our previous years’ 2-day adjunct orientation.  One can find information on using OAKS, Google Drive, technology resources, administrative resources, teaching resources, apps for teaching activity classes, etc.

T & P is another content area.  Under annual evaluations faculty will find samples of how to present summaries of student evaluations, the required yearly self-reflection form, templates for required evaluations, a place to submit faculty and instructor annual evaluations, the annual faculty workload plan, etc.

We are revising the departmental by-laws and they are soon to be posted.

One of our most robust content areas is Advising.  We have a Google forms for releasing holds on students and a place to submit that form, all 4 programs of study and road maps, information on wait lists for closed courses including policies, the actual form students fill out to request a spot and submission hold releases and status updates.  Information on one of our favorite programs, appointment manager and finally the HEHP orientation presentation power points so faculty/staff will know what was shared with students at orientations.

Lastly, we have the Administrative section.  This includes everything one would want to know about the department such as the most current mission statement, org chart, policies & procedures manual, strategic plan, phone directory, office supply order form, research/teaching order form, guidelines for evaluating curricular exceptions requests, instructions on how to print from an iPad, tutorials, final reports, etc.  One can also connect with the library, find all travel information and forms, find information about reimbursements and check out laptops and iPads. Etc.

Middle right on the homepage have departmental calendars with opportunities to reserve the conference room, post events & presentations, post meeting days/times, reserve laptops, etc.  Finally we have a HELP! Section including information on how to set up your CofC Google apps account, how to get started with Google drive/docs, how to make meeting minutes in the course using Google docs, how to get news notifications, etc.

Overall, according to faculty surveys and feedback, we are on the right track in helping to organize the quickly growing department.  It’s a winner and thanks to Mendi, Nancy Phelps, Debbi Hinson and all others who helped move us along!

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