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Running an accredited educational organization, I know the sheer volume of record-keeping, compliance, and reporting obligations institutes face. It's no surprise that teachers and admin teams lose valuable time in data entry, tab-switching, and copy-paste.

At Accellier, a registered training organization in Australia, we've automated away much of this using tools like Zapier, freeing our people to make valuable, meaningful connections with students.

Anyone who's worked in an accredited education setting knows about the mountains of information, records, and resources that institutes have to maintain. We love teaching, yet we dread the record-keeping that comes with it. The student should be the centerpiece of education, but all the data that needs to be shifted around results in what I call a "wall of administrivia," blocking students and educators from connecting and learning.

There are countless opportunities for automating and integrating the apps that teachers and administrative teams use.

Automation helps us get the right data into the right systems, error-free and in near real-time to ensure regulatory compliance. Teachers can collaborate as a team around students, especially when marking assessments and providing support.

Some of our most valuable and time-saving automated workflows were created and tested in under 20 minutes without needing to code.

This has been one of the greatest returns on investment for us. As skilled and qualified specialists, it makes little sense to waste precious time clicking, typing, copy-pasting, and tab-switching. Every minute wasted on easily automated manual data work is valuable time lost for tuition, support, and learning.

To say we're obsessed with reclaiming that time is an understatement.

Breaking down the wall, one brick at a time.

Rather than planning and rolling out a massive automation effort, I have found that it's best to target one task, even a sub-task, and automate that before moving on to the next. This has four key benefits:

  1. It's SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and you can get it done in a Timely manner).
  2. Your automation skills expand greatly as you successfully implement each one.
  3. It's easier to monitor and manage a simple automation, and fix any issues.
  4. Because the benefits are easily measured, it provides an excellent proof-of-concept to demonstrate to others the value of automation.

What should I automate in an educational organization?

If you're seeking inspiration for your first automation project, here are some tips I've found particularly useful when automating at Accellier Education:

  1. Listen. Talk to your teammates, teachers, admin, and faculty staff. Find out what frustrates them in their data entry or processing work.
  2. Observe. Sit with staff and watch them perform common tasks (you can do this remotely using screen share, too).
  3. Reflect. There are probably already things in your role that you wish you didn't have to do. What are some repetitive little jobs you find yourself avoiding? What parts of those could you automate?

One of the first things I automated was creating a new Trello card when a student submitted an enrollment form on our website. Enrollment is an extremely important and high-value activity, so it must be well-managed.

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