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IU faculty to begin using Activity Insight tool for annual reporting

User-friendly Activity Insight to streamline the process of tracking research, creative activity, teaching, and service

Indiana University is transitioning to a new tool, Activity Insight, to create a more efficient annual-reporting process for the university’s faculty.

In replacing FAR (Faculty Annual Report), IU’s faculty will now have a more intuitive product that not only has improved user friendliness and reduces the amount of manual data entry required for annual reporting, but also provides added benefits of professional value. The annual faculty summary reporting process is used by deans and department chairs to measure the accomplishments of faculty, including research and creative activities, service and engagement, and teaching, in order to set salary.

"The transition from the FAR application to the new Activity Insight product will ensure that IU faculty are provided a robust tool that dynamically assists them with collecting, assessing and sharing data and information about their academic, scholarly and research endeavors," said Rob Lowden, IU associate vice president, enterprise systems.

From creating a curriculum vitae and updating faculty webpages to identifying potential collaborative opportunities and generating bio-sketches for grant proposals, Activity Insight’s value will become increasingly evident as its users get more familiar with the tool. Because of agreements various academic publishers have with Digital Measures, the maker of Activity Insight, data about faculty publications can be automatically populated, easing the manual workload of IU professors and instructors.

"We chose Activity Insight as our new tool for two key reasons: ease of use and usefulness. Activity insight is very intuitive and should require little or no training to get a faculty member up and running," said Anne Massey, dean’s research professor of information systems at IU’s Kelley School of Business and associate vice president in the office of the executive vice president for university academic affairs. "When we were looking at the vendor options, Digital Measures and Activity Insight could provide support across research, creative activity, teaching and service in all its flavors. We were hopeful that this solution was able to meet the varied needs of all our campuses and the varied emphases that are placed on different faculty at different points in their career across the board." 

Massey led the project from a faculty perspective, while Lowden and Jim Thomas, director of enterprise business systems, enterprise software, coordinated the technological side. The practical usage of Activity Insight is what led IU to choose the tool, joining other Committee on Institutional Cooperation (CIC, a group of renowned research institutions comprised of Big Ten universities and the University of Chicago) member schools in implementing the Digital Measures product.

"While the annual reporting process is an administrative task that is not a particular favorite activity of most faculty members because of the required manual data entry, we believe the intuitive user interface and automated data integration of this tool will provide a much improved reporting experience for IU faculty," Thomas said.

Activity Insight is scheduled to be in place at IU prior to the fall 2016 semester, with faculty using the tool for annual reporting as the calendar year comes to a close.