Ball State is looking to add a new software to help both students and faculty. 

Aviso, a prediction A.I. software, will be implemented next year to help faculty monitor students who may be “at risk” of dropping out.

Ro Anne Royer Engle, interim vice president for student affairs, said Ball State is currently configuring the settings on the A.I.

“So they (Aviso) take five to ten years of data or the institution's historical data from all systems and, in layman's terms, they will take a look at what are the factors that help to ascertain the likelihood of students to persist from one semester or through a course,” Royer Engle said. 

The Office of Retention and Graduation will be one of the main offices that will use the new system, she said. The data Ball State has already collected will be used to help faculty reach out to “at-risk” students. 

“So what this tool will allow us to do is be able to pull all of this data that we have and then be able to use the predictive model to see of the students that we're looking at who is most at risk based on these factors, multiple factors,” Royer Engle said. “Then it will allow the retention staff to then be able to prioritize on any one day or any one weak point in the semester, these are the students that I need to reach out to, because of multiple factors [they] may be at risk.”

Royer Engle said first-year freshman advisors will be using this tool as well, it will help them check on freshmen to see if they are at risk during their first year of college. 

She added that students will not be contacted by multiple people if the student has already been reached out to and is receiving help.

Whenever Ball State adopts a new system on campus, Ball State’s IT team checks to make sure safeguards are in place to keep data secure, Royer Engle said.

“We're not sharing information with people who do not need [it], your academic advisor already has your information … they're not getting any more information than Degree Works already gives them or banner already has access to,” she said. 

One of the safeguards for student information is a federal law called Family Education Rights and Policy Act (FERPA). According to the Ball State website, FERPA allows students to see the data the university has on a student, seek to amend or append a statement in the records, consent to the disclosure of their records and file a complaint to the Office of Educational Compliance in Washington D.C.

Nancy Cronk, registrar at Ball State, said FEPRA is technologically neutral.

“To this day, it still remains technology-neutral. And it remains in effect, regardless of the format of an educational record for students educational records. So it doesn't matter if it's in paper format, it doesn't matter if it's in video, it doesn't matter if it's, you know, in an electronic database, it's still technology-neutral,” Cronk said.

She said a “key concept” of FERPA was that students have to give permission to release information from their student record. Cronk also said what information is sent to faculty depends on what information is needed.

“So I don't know too many areas, if any areas that have what I would consider end-to-end information on a student,” she said. “End-to-end being everything that the students may have when they start Ball State, all the way through to when they finished Ball State.”

Aviso will be tested during the summer and then implemented for the fall 2019 semester.

Contact Charles Melton with comments at cwmelton@bsu.edu or on Twitter @Cmelton144.