College of Education Streamlines Student Placements with Sonia
Learn how East Carolina University’s College of Education Streamlined Placement Management with Sonia.
When it was time for ECU’s College of Education to migrate to a new student placement management software, the Office of Assessment, Data Management and Digital Learning selected Sonia.
Digitizing the Placement Process to Streamline and Meet University Needs
The team considered another software solution; however, they found that it wasn’t flexible enough for their needs. Sonia is highly customizable, and this was a key decision factor for the ECU team.
Prior to Sonia, the placement team emailed each other various spreadsheets and scanned documents. “Everything was on paper; this was time consuming and hard to manage,” said Mary Worthington, Data Manager; Office of Assessment, Data Management and Digital Learning; College of Education.
The built-in fields in Sonia help the team to collect information in one place, and they can easily add new fields any time as their needs change.
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Navigating Uncertainty Made Easy
Sonia was implemented at the start of 2020 and became a critical tool to help the team smoothly navigate the fast-moving and unpredictable changes that followed through 2020 and 2021. “It was just in time to help us manage through the pandemic, and it saved us tremendously,” said Mary.
“Sonia meant that we experienced no break in service, no problems communicating updates and changes with schools, and constant - sometimes daily - communications with students.”
“With all forms now done completely electronically, we could manage so smoothly and quickly. Sister institutes were struggling and wondering how we were doing this. We said, ‘we’re good, we’ve got Sonia!’”
Additionally, Sonia’s reporting and tracking functionality helped with a smooth transition back to campus when the time came.
Setting Up the System and Stakeholders for Ongoing Success
The Sonia team worked closely with Mary, her Director, and ECU’s IT team to ensure staff, students, and sites were set up for success. “Everyone was great to work with,” said Mary.
A daily import from the main university database ensures that data is always accurate. The bulk upload is Mary’s favorite feature, “In the old system, information and statistics for all public schools in the state had to be updated individually each year, which took a grad student six months. Now with Sonia, the full project is completed in 30 minutes!”
Students were provided with instructions and found Sonia easy to use. Staff saw the benefit of everything they do being in the one place – happily waving goodbye to the challenging process of working across multiple spreadsheets.
“Sonia works really, really well and the product expert team replies almost immediately to any questions. They also help me to think about our processes differently, which is really helpful in finding new, more efficient ways to record and collect accurate data.”
Supporting Teacher Education Engagement and Licensure Requirements
Prior to the Sonia implementation, clinical teachers were required to participate in training modules in a separate system to create a personal account, “it was a hassle and they hated it”. Now, with Sonia all communications and forms are sent electronically to their school email account. Clinical teachers no longer need to log in or remember passwords. “It’s just an email which is a big blessing. It’s one less thing for them to worry about, and the response rate for submitting forms has really increased.” This means that the ECU team saves time as there is less follow up required.
Additionally, before Sonia, the team could only track edTPA scores as pass or did not pass. There was no way to store and search for date, score, or retake data – which all needed to be reported to various agencies. “It was not great information, and it took a really long time to upload each status individually.” With Sonia, the team can collect and store all information required and it’s done in 5-10 minutes. “Now the edTPA coordinator and licensure specialist always have what they need, and all of the information is recorded.”
The ECU team continue to expand usage of Sonia as new opportunities arise. For example, Education Residency Candidates will soon be managed through Sonia, with a specific customizable layout. This means all the moving parts and spreadsheets are now in one place which makes people’s lives so much easier. When asked if she would recommend Sonia to other colleges, Mary said, “Just go to Sonia”.