Maura Hollister, Undergraduate Academic Advisor in Electrical Engineering 


Just this past year I have implemented a number of techniques to improve my own academic advising practice while simultaneously eliminating paper.

Laminated and dry erase versions of our degree flowcharts eliminate the need to print paper copies of information sheets and course flow diagrams for over 450 students; instead the students just use their cell phone to take a picture of the dry erase page we’ve marked up.

Online degree plans allow students to take ownership of their own academic career; by using plans made in GoogleDrive, instead of paper plans, students and advisors can share and review documents without in-person appointments. This saves students who have work/family responsibilities from having to travel to campus during set advising hours and enables students to share their plans with other stakeholders like sponsors or scholarship offices.

Additionally, I have streamlined a number of department forms and applications by using DocuSign and have implemented an e-file system, transitioning all student files into electronic PDFs. These techniques are all being used as models for other Engineering Departments. 


The practice of Academic Advising has always been extremely paper heavy. Paper petitions, independent study agreements, long-term degree planning guides, printed paper flow charts, paper application forms printing degree audits for every graduate ... these processes all add to the overall paper use of the department and college. However, there is no pedagogical reason to use paper in these ways as there is in other spheres in academia. With the tools at hand like a laminator, an efficient copier, and Google Drive, I have been able to reduce a rather significant amount of paper use within the department. 


I've implemented these processes first in the Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering Department, but they are also being used in Mechanical, ChemBio, Aerospace, and Computer Science. I am also presenting these ideas to the larger Engineering Advisor group later this month and will be giving a presentation at Advisor Day which will explain how other departments across campus can implement these paperless techniques as well. 


In summer 2017, I transitioned the department to the e-filing system and archived our paper files. In Fall 2017 I started enforcing that my students complete the online degree plans and taught the other advisor in the department how to use the dry erase flow charts. In the past two semesters I have been working with OIT to implement DocuSign forms for the internal ECEE petitions, forms, and applications. In the last two semesters I have also met with numerous advisors and the Assistant Dean of Students to explain my new processes and help their implementation in departments across the Engineering campus.

Submitter's Information

Submitter's Name: Maura Hollister​
Submitter's Email: Maura.Hollister@colorado.edu 
Submitter's Org: Electrical, Computer, and Energy Engineering