As a place of learning; colleges and universities acquire a great deal of paperwork and archival footage over the years. From senior thesis papers and dissertations to recorded lectures and student records, there’s plenty of information to be found. All of these pieces of information and university history should be protected and preserved, and the best way to do it is with digitization. Why is digitization the best option? I’m glad you asked.
When a friend of mine was at university; he took an environmental biology class, as a film student this was quite out of his element. Lucky for him (and the rest of the class) the professor had saved copies of previous lab reports that got A’s and he allowed the class to read them as examples. Thanks to this, most of the class that paid attention ended up learning a lot and getting a good grade. All of them remembered the help that the professor gave and made sure the university knew how happy they were when they did reviews at the end of the semester.
Keeping archives of well received material is a great resource for students; to study, learn, and get an understanding of exactly what a professor is looking for. Archives are also another draw for students and alumni. If a student graduates and later misplaces their thesis or an important project that they need later in life, and they can then come back and get a copy; that would be a great reason to pick a school!
Archives of old student work have innumerable benefits to current students and alumni, unfortunately paper isn’t going to cut it for long. That’s why you should digitize your archives! All those rooms full of paper documents or microfilm, videotapes or 8mm film of old lectures and events, and the numerous recordings of sports teams and their games. All of these papers and various other media types can be put onto a single compact hard drive and connected to the school’s network. You could even have it hosted on the cloud so students could access it (with a password) from anywhere! Now you have happier students, grateful alumni, more reliable archives, and significantly more physical storage space.
Electronic Records Management
Ok, let’s say for some reason you don’t care about what’s easier for the students (terrible business model); let me explain how digitizing can help you (administration/staff). Every year colleges and universities accept thousands of students each. Each one of those students require a large amount of paperwork regarding their applications, degree audits, course changes, grades, financial aid, and room & board. After 4 years, that’s a lot of paperwork, and for most schools they have to archive it under law. This leads to whole departments being created, rooms filled with filing cabinets, and ultimately a lot of human error. Edutopia has figured out that a school could save $50,000 or more per year by going digital. This cost comes about by adding up the price of paper, electricity for printers, buying/renting high quality printers, and of course ink and toner. If you add the cost of a staff to keep track of it all, your costs can sky rocket.
Alternatively you can lower staff to a scan person and a tech specialist (if your school doesn’t have one already) if you begin to digitally archive your records. Ideally you should hire a document scanning company to digitize the backlog of records that you’re required to hold on to for so many years. Once that’s scanned you can have a smaller staff handle the lower paper flow as it’s made, then recycle the paper once it’s scanned. Having digital records reduces human error such as losing a piece of paper or putting it in the wrong folder. All the info you and your students need can be presented in a condensed, easy to follow, single location. You can access, distribute or make copies with the touch of a button.
I’ll only touch on this briefly, but it is one of the biggest reasons any school or business should switch to digital documents, insurance. Paper crumples and fades, it burns and rips, and it doesn’t exactly like water. The fact of the matter is that the elements have too much sway over paper documents and can show up unpredictably with flash floods and accidental fires. Once a document is burned or soaked, it’s ruined forever. However, a digital document will last for decades, you can even back it up on the cloud so that if your serves go down, your files don’t. It’s a safer way to operate and gives you more insurance on keeping your precious records; between cloud storage, backup servers, and backup hard drives you’ll always have a copy somewhere.
Start Digitizing Documents Now
Having digital documents as opposed to physical ones has proven time and time again to increase productivity and satisfaction in the work place. Staff can organize faster and more efficiently, it costs less, saves space, and makes your students (past present and future) happier. There is no reason not to do it sooner than later. Trust me, you don’t want to be the person who held out and then lost your records to a fire or flood knowing you could have prevented it. Make your students happy, make your staff better, and give yourself peace of mind; digitize your documents starting today.
Brandon is the owner of Smoot Solutions – a leading professional Document Digitization Services
in Lodi, NJ, Prior to that he owned and operated a small bakery. It may seem like a far stretch but at the end of the day his work is all about making people happy. He is passionate about helping individuals protect, preserve and share their family history and takes pride in the many high quality yet affordable digitize microfilm his company provides. Other than working to grow and improve his business, he enjoys spending time with his wife, daughter and family.