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Symplicity Resources
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ePortfolio Tool Name: Reflection

Developer/Company Name: Symplicity

URL: www.symplicity.com/reflection

Webinar recording from March 14, 2012 (With thanks to Patricia Donohue of ePortfolio California.)

 



The following is a compilation of the needs and concerns expressed by the eportfolio community in an informal polling during spring 2011. The answers are the vendor's own responses.


What vision or understanding of learning informed the design of your tool?

Our understanding of learning is that it is a collaborative effort where each student is an active participant in deciding the direction and depth of their experiences and that faculty is responsible for viewing eh student as a unique individual and providing relevant guidance and feedback. Thus our vision with the Reflection Electronic Portfolio System was to create an environment where students and faculty can collaborate to advance the student’s personal, academic, and professional development and visualize the student’s progress toward learning outcomes defined by the institution. Students and faculty can utilize Reflection as a platform through which to share experiences, academic evaluations, evidence of learning (videos, sound files, documents, etc.), portfolio feedback/comments, strengths and weaknesses, and view the student’s advancement toward goals. The completed portfolio will represent a clear connection between the student’s work and the knowledge he or she was required to learn during their time at the institution. As faculty play an integral part in guiding the student’s development, Symplicity listened closely to the needs expressed by higher education practitioners looking for a portfolio solution that would be both learning and career oriented and that would assist with their institution’s overall assessment and accreditation efforts. The ability to score portfolios based upon rubrics, leave feedback for students, assess the student’s performance in relation to defined learning competencies – all of these insights were incorporated in to the development of the Reflection system. As a result, Reflection is highly customizable and offers comprehensive reporting (all student data can be accessed via the Reporting feature) so that institutions can align the tool with their learning objectives and easily generate results to provide to their administration. In addition, the reporting feature allows faculty to easily identify areas for improvement, as well as accomplishments, on an individual student basis.

How does your vision of learning promote a student-centered approach to education? (e.g. student ownership of his/her learning)

Reflection is a very "student-centric” system that offers robust tools in both the student and manager interfaces to enable the student to progress and reflect independently and allow faculty to monitor student development and offer feedback/suggestions at any time. The student interface allows students to take full ownership of each Portfolio-from the content, to the organization, to the design. Students are responsible for entering their experiences in the Skills Matrix, the heart of Reflection. The experiences the student enters in the Matrix are the foundation for each portfolio they create. By entering experiences, students are encouraged to carefully consider their accomplishments, both on and off campus, and determine how they align with the desired learning outcomes of the institution (also defined within the Matrix). Students select which skills they have obtained from each experience (the institution can provide a list of skills and opt to enable students to enter their own skills), what artifacts they wish to include as evidence of learning (videos, documents, etc.), and enter a description of the experience that emphasizes their understanding and deep learning of the subject. At any time, students can proactively utilize the Skills Matrix to take stock of their strengths and weaknesses, and assess what areas the institution suggests they acquire additional experiences in. The skill categories within the Skills Matrix can be customized by major, so that students will see skill categories that are most relevant to them. Faculty with the appropriate user rights can view the data entered by the student within the Skills Matrix (as well as any other data the student has entered in to Reflection, including their completed and in-progress portfolios) and provide them with suggestions and feedback, encouraging the student to recognize the skills required to reach their goals and the types of experience necessary to get there. Faculty can also view snapshots of the student’s Skills Matrix at select points over time to see how the student has progressed.

Does your tool allow students to control permissions? Can they share with people outside of the institution? How? (e.g., advisor, prospective employer, etc.).

Reflection enables students to control who their presentations are shared with. User account management with encrypted passwords, as well as granular user rights and assigned roles within Reflection’s manager interface, ensure that each student’s information is visible only to the individual student and designated staff. Students can share their work with individuals outside of the institution by emailing them the pdf presentation or by providing them with the URL (which can be password protected) to their online portfolio. Students may also opt to share their work via Twitter, Facebook, and Linkedin.

What is the process for inviting feedback on work or artifacts?

Students can decide if they would like to receive feedback on their work. When viewing the student’s online presentation, there is a "comments” icon that the reviewer can simply click on and enter their feedback. Customizable "feedback types” enable the institution to enter feedback categories that are commonly used to make the process simpler for the reviewer (e.g. "Request for interview”). Once the feedback has been entered, the student will receive an e-mail alert indicating that feedback has been left on their presentation. The student can easily click the URL within the e-mail, and be routed right to the portfolio where feedback has been left for them. Within the Reflection student interface, there is also a "Feedback” tab, where students can view all feedback left for them over time, on any portfolio. Students are offered the same options in terms of enabling and collecting feedback on assignments.

Describe how your tool promotes and supports student-to-student collaboration.

Students can share the URL to their online portfolio with other students and enable the feedback option so that their peers can provide comments and suggestions directly to the portfolio. If their peer leaves feedback, the student receives an alert via email, and the feedback is also collected under a "Feedback” tab within the Reflection student interface. In addition to sharing their portfolio URLs, students can, with the click of a button within the student interface, share their portfolios via Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Peers can access their portfolio via these social media sites and leave feedback in the same manner as above.

Describe how your tool promotes and supports student-to-faculty collaboration.

Reflection provides a faculty interface that enables faculty to create their own rubrics for evaluating portfolios and assignments. Faculty can then share these rubrics with students so that the student may clearly understand the criteria upon which they are being scored. Faculty may provide comments directly to the student’s online portfolio or assignment. Once feedback is submitted, the student will receive an alert via email (they can click a URL within the email and be routed directly to the portfolio or assignment where feedback has been left) and feedback is also collected under the "Feedback” tab within the Reflection student interface. By sharing rubrics and feedback, students and faculty can work together to strengthen the student’s portfolio or ensure the student’s understanding of subject matter pertaining to an assignment. . Faculty and staff members with the appropriate user rights assigned in the Reflection manager interface may also view student portfolio content at any time, as well as the details the student has entered in their Skills Matrix. The Reflection manager interface makes it easy for faculty to pull any data the student has entered in the system and identify areas where he or she may need guidance. The Manager interface also offers a specific tab where faculty can see snapshots of the student’s development over-time, and gauge whether the student is responding to faculty suggestions and making progress toward their goals. Faculty can also guide students through the Reflection interface and the process of developing a successful portfolio by customizing the "Help” and "Hints” found throughout the student interface.

How does your tool support and encourage the reflection process for students and faculty?

The Skills Matrix within the Reflection student interface was designed to encourage students to reflect upon their experiences, consider the skill(s) they have obtained, and select supporting evidence that represents their learning and development of that specific skill. At anytime, the student can utilize the Skills Matrix to visualize their growth. In addition to the Skills Matrix, each portfolio the student creates begins with a Profile that promotes a reflective introduction where the student will consider what that particular portfolio will represent and should make specific points about what the documents in the portfolio show about their progress. Faculty can create custom rubrics for assessing portfolios that can measure the depth of the student’s reflection. Faculty with the appropriate user rights assigned in the Reflection manager interface can view student data at any time, leave feedback for the student, or utilize the "Notes” tab within the manager interface to add notes to a student’s record that are visible only to designated manager users. These features enable faculty to reflect upon their engagement with the student and view the students resulting development over time.

How does your tool address and support institutional level assessment needs (e.g., aggregating student data and generating reports for accreditation)?

Reflection includes a manager interface so that faculty and staff (with the appropriate user rights) have complete control to view and edit all student data (such as completed portfolios, experiences, artifacts, resumes, and letters of reference). Reflection's reporting feature provides access to all system data so faculty/staff can generate custom reports on any data set desired. Results can be easily exported to Excel with each line item represented in its own Excel column. A tab in the Reflection manager interface enables faculty/staff to view a history of the student's Skills Matrix over a specified period of time. For example, a faculty member can select to view the student's Skills Matrix in their freshman year, and compare it to a snapshot of their Skills Matrix in their sophomore year. These details are also accessible via the reporting feature.

Does your application integrate with enterprise systems? Which ones? Do you have examples of effective integration in support of advising or other student services you can share?

Reflection can be deployed as a stand-alone system or as part of a larger enterprise wide system. Symplicity itself offers a diverse enterprise product portfolio with unique solutions to serve the various offices within student affairs. Reflection can be integrated in to any of Symplicity's software solutions, including the Career Services Manager (CSM) system. For example, with a single sign-on, students can login to the institution's Career Services Manager system and jump right in to Reflection, without having to login to multiple systems. Students can utilize their Reflection portfolio to apply to job opportunities within CSM. Resumes, cover letters, and placement data (entered as experiences within the student's Skills Matrix) can be synced between Reflection and CSM. Symplicity has a great deal of experience offering seamless integration with a variety of systems to make day-to- day operations much easier for faculty and staff and enhance the student's experience as well. We commonly integrate with student information systems (such as Banner, Jenzebar, DataTel, Peoplesoft) to auto-fill student records, pull in class schedules, pictures, holds, etc. We make our software even easier to use by integrating into your portal with single-sign on or shared authentication. We have experience with integrating with CAS, Shibboleth, LDAP,and many other options. In support of advising, several Symplicity systems integrate with calendaring applications (enterprise calendars, Google, Lotus Notes, smart phone applications, etc.). Additionally, Symplicity offers live integration via web services or batch files to ensure your student information stays up-to-date.

What is the main strength of your application?

The main strength of Reflection is that it is a 100% web based electronic portfolio system that not only offers a unique faculty interface, but also offers a student interface- both with a full suite of cutting edge tools. While other systems may be open source and focus primarily on the needs of either the student or the faculty, Reflection is a secure solution that promotes collaboration between students and faculty and facilitates the creation of portfolios for showcase, assessment, or development purposes.
18. What weaknesses have been identified relative to the user experience and shared with you?
Over the summer of 2011, we were pleased to roll out the enhanced version of our product, Reflection 2. We're happy to report that Reflection 2 incorporates many of the suggestions for improvements we received from our existing and potential clients, including more layout options for the online and pdf portfolios, social media integration, and additional opportunities for integration with our Career Services Manager system.

Please share some examples of user feedback.

From reviewers (employers): (please note that New York University has branded their Reflection system as NYUeVita): "There's more to hiring college students than only reviewing academic performance. The best candidates have an array of experiences outside the classroom that will add considerable value to the organizations they join, from campus organizations to community service. NYUeVita gives employers the ability to review these valuable attributes in an efficient and timely manner." Ernst & Young LLP "At Goldman Sachs, we make an unusual effort to identify and recruit the very best person for every job. In order to find the right people, we consider every aspect of someone's candidacy and look for the well-rounded individual. NYUeVita allows students to highlight such attributes as teamwork, leadership, and creativity in addition to academic merit. NYUeVita is a unique resource available for students to showcase all that they have to offer to prospective employers." Goldman Sachs "NYU-Evita allows me to see the full applicant. As a Peace Corps recruiter, I look for more than just the GPA or a previous internship. With Evita I can see each applicant?s volunteer experience, interests and hobbies, even club memberships. Even before the interview I understand more about who this applicant is." Peace Corps From staff: From students: "I really like that with NYU eVita I can have so many different aspects of my work collected all in one place. It's great to have something that really highlights my personality outside of the classroom; this ePortfolio helps show who I am as a well-rounded individual, not just who I am academically. It's also great that I can access it almost anywhere, which I'm sure will help me in the future to market myself as someone with a bredth of knowledge, interests, experiences, and skills!" -- Serena, Class of 2010 " NYU eVita is a great tool for tracking my co-curricular activities! It's the perfect compliment to my resume as it allows me to expound upon items listed there as well as highlight additional activities. This is a service I'll use long after graduation!" -- Matt, Class of 2009

Please share examples of the successful use of your application to help students achieve their goals undefined admission to graduate school, career placement and advancement, etc.

Students can create an unlimited number of unique portfolios that can be exported to PDF and/or shared online. A robust portfolio created with Reflection can aid students in taking the next step in toward their future goals, whether it be developing a portfolio that highlights their education for use in the graduate school admissions process, or a portfolio that was designed to hone in on skills and experiences relevant to the requirements contained within the posting details of the student's dream job.

What key changes or features do you plan to introduce in the near future?

With the launch of the Reflection 2 system over the summer this year, we released a great deal of enhancements to the system. We hope that our next update we anticipate will include adding an embedded media player, increasing the size of thumb nail images, adding a solution to simplify the recommendation request process, and deploying an iPhone application.

Technical

System Requirements - End User:

-Reflection, along with all Symplicity applications, is a 100% web based application requiring no plug-ins. All clients need to use Symplicity systems are: 1. A connection to a TCP/IP network such as the Internet with access to the network upon which the application is running, or direct access to the server running the application for local access. 2. A modern web browser such as Microsoft Internet Explorer (5.5+), Netscape (6.0+), or Firefox (1.0). Recent versions of these browsers are recommended for maximum usability, but older versions will continue to function with slightly reduced interface features.

System Requirements - Server:

N/A (Symplicity provides hosting services to all clients. Reflection operates 24x7x365 in a secure hosting facility operated by Symplicity and data center provider Equinix. Symplicity can provide detailed hosting and security standard documentation to interested parties upon request.

Hosted service?

Yes, Symplicity provides secure reliable hosting.

Storage Capacity (per account):

Unlimited

Privacy policy relative to student accounts and under-age users:

Institutions utilizing Reflection are responsible for developing and posting their own privacy policies for students, as Symplicity does not communicate directly with students (we prefer not to circumvent the institution). Symplicity and its employees, agents and subcontractors shall hold in confidence and shall not disclose, distribute, sell, copy, share or otherwise use in any manner any information, records or other documents obtained by Symplicity which relate to Licensee’s students, employees, research, development or business affairs, whether past, present or future, except as authorized by this Agreement or authorized by Licensee in writing

Standards compliance:

-Symplicity’s interim integration API adheres to Standard Transaction. The web services API will meet or exceed the following specifications: • SOAP 1.1 • WSDL 1.1 • ISO 11179 standard names, new names will be selected through cooperation of SME, "Functional Data Expert", and Software Developers -- per Summary XML Guidance #4 • Camel case for XML names • Avoid acronyms • No Abbreviations • Use UPPERCASE acronyms • Detailed XML comments wherever possible Symplicity will fully document the database schema.

Section 508 compliance:

Symplicity solutions are 508 compliant. Designed with accessibility in mind, Reflection ensures ease of use and efficiency for all constituents.

Published API:

n/a

Migration/Exportation:

During the implementation phase, Symplicity technical staff will migrate student records and class schedules from the institution’s legacy systems to Reflection via sFTP (secure file transfer protocol) or web service API. The API will provide generic object access methods for any objects for which the institution is the authoritative data source.

Systems Integration (list known):

Sungard/Banner, DataTel, PeopleSoft, Jenzabar, Adirondack, StarRez, RMS, Outlook, Google Calendar, CalDav, Lotus Notes, PowerCampus, CAS, Shibboleth, :LDAP, Luminis, Active Directory, uPortal

Accepted artifacts/media (pictures, video, audio, text, html, documents, etc.):

An unlimited # of artifacts can be uploaded to the student's document library including pictures, sound files, text, html, documents (PDF, Word, etc.), PPT, videos. and podcasts.

Company profile:
About Symplicity Rapid application development. Easy to use software. Clean and intuitive interfaces. Secure, reliable hosting. Friendly and responsive customer service. These attributes have all made Symplicity a pioneer in higher education, government, and business systems. For fourteen years, Symplicity has been passionate about providing its clients with IT solutions; services and products that enable them to maximize productivity, increase their return on investment, and enhance their relationships with customers and constituents. Symplicity was formed to address the information gap that has existed between university staff, faculty and students. Utilized by more than 1,000 institutions and over 9,000,000 students, the Symplicity moniker is recognized for making life much simpler for students and staff. Symplicity specializes in database driven, web-based applications, enterprise information systems architecture and development, network design and management, systems and software engineering, network integration and management, information security and enterprise systems management. Symplicity is a privately held organization headquartered in Arlington, VA and boasts more than eighty full-time employers. The majority of Symplicity’s employees contribute to the development and support of Insight. Symplicity’s human and technical resources are unmatched in the marketplace.

Customer base/size:

Symplicity software is currently utilized by more than 1,000 institutions, over 9,000,000 students, and 3,000,000 employers.

Student license pricing model:

At this time, Reflection is sold at the institutional level only.

Institutional pricing model:

Pricing begins at $2,500 annually and is based upon the scope of deployment. Institutions should contact jmaugle@symplicity.com to discuss their needs and a formal quote can be developed.

Post-graduate/transfer student license model:

Currently, the institution determines how long the student can maintain access to their Reflection account.

Institution service agreement model:

Symplicity provides a licensing agreement to all institutions.

Online support information:

Symplicity provides online user guides, help / hints within each interface, training videos accessible online, detailed documentation (including "Cheat Sheets"), and live training from our support staff at any time requested.

Institutional support services (Free):

Symplicity will assemble a seasoned account management team to ensure the success of each institution's Reflection implementation. The members of the support team are highly accomplished individuals in their respective areas. Symplicity’s Reflection Account Management Team has led numerous successful implementations at peer institutions of similar size with similar processes. During the implementation and after go-live, real-time customer support is provided by the Reflection Expert Help Desk, which is primarily staff by former higher education professionals with many years experience in the industry and an in-depth knowledge of the Symplicity Reflection system. Support is delivered via telephone and email on business days from 9:00 AM to 8:00 PM Eastern Time for the purpose of troubleshooting system problems and answering "how to” questions regarding the configuration and proper utilization of the application. To supplement real-time support via the Expert Help Desk, Symplicity Project Managers reach out to client points of contact frequently to provide updates on outstanding issues, walk through new system enhancements, and discuss priorities for future system development. Symplicity also offers 24x7x365 to its online Issue Tracker for support outside normal business hours (evenings, weekends, and holidays). Upon submitting an issue, client users are given a support request incident number and may track the status online.

Institutional support services (Fee-based):

There is not an additional fee for support.

IT staffing requirements:

Reflection is completely web based and hosted by Symplicity; we have made every effort to provide institutions with a system that is easily customized "out-of-the-box" without requiring hours of IT staff time. Most institutions are ready to go live with the system within 4-6 weeks of receiving their site and beginning training with our implementation specialists. Depending on integration needs, IT time is minimal.
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