News nr. 24 | November/December 2011
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Academic Area and Development Unit: a successful partnership
Academic Area and Development Unit: a successful partnership



Academic Area 
Lara Ponte
laraponte@fm.ul.pt 
Alcina Silvestre 
alcina@fm.ul.pt 
Maria Manuela Ferreira 
manuelaferreira@fm.ul.pt

Development Unit
Ana Catarina Silva
acsilva@fm.ul.pt
Nuno Heitor
nunoheitor@fm.ul.pt    


The number of students studying at FMUL has grown over the years, thereby increasing the number of requirements at various levels, particularly in administrative terms. 

To be able to meet growing needs, over the years FMUL has had to computerize various areas, namely those related to the Academic Area. 
Since 2005, it has a partnership with the Development Unit in order to respond in a more effective and efficient way to administrative requirements inherent to the various existing activities through the creation of computer platforms and applications. 

These applications have computerized and, therefore, streamlined services, involving staff, lecturers, students and other type of public, depending on the issue in question. 

In general, projects involving the Development Unit are triggered by a need expressed by a Unit, in this case, the Academic Area. The Development Unit is contacted by email, after which a meeting is scheduled so that the need felt by the department can be presented in detail. 

At this meeting, the process is reviewed from start to finish, and incomes, outcomes, notifications and actions by other departments, students and/or teachers are discussed. A document called “Needs Assessment” is then prepared summarizing the project to be developed and corresponding workflow. 

The Development Unit then sends this document to all those who attended the project review meeting and awaits feedback. If the document is in accordance with the request, then the conditions to develop the project within the agreed timeframe are met. 

After the development and presentation of a prototype, the project is delivered so that tests can be carried out so that the development stage can be completed. It is only after this stage, and after all the problems encountered have been sorted out and all the proposed alterations have been made, that the project is implemented. The application comes with its corresponding user guides, which become available online within the application itself. 

This is the procedure that has been adopted, and it has already met the needs of the Academic Area by delivering seven distinct computer applications. Over the years and as they get used, these applications have been subject to ongoing changes and improvements according to need. 

Of the seven applications, three belong to the Academic Unit – Access Management and Recognition of Qualifications and four belong to the Curriculum Management Unit, as follows: : 


Academic Unit – Access Management and Recognition of Qualifications 

- Online Requests for Credit Transfer - Compulsory Core Curriculum – This is a software application to support request for credit transfer made by students of FMUL who completed subjects at other institutions which they believe are equivalent to those taught at FMUL. This application is used by students to make such requests and by lecturers for analysis and opinion giving on them. 

- Management of Applications for the Graduate Special Access (General Intake and Specific Intake) - This is a software application for supporting the management of applications for the Graduate Special Access aimed at holders of bachelor or integrated master degrees who wish to join the Integrated Master Degree in Medicine from FMUL. These applications are made online using this software, which stores all data entered by applicants and is subsequently processed by the Academic Area. 
Two different software applications were created for each of the intakes (General Intake and Specific Intake), as each has distinct characteristics and regulations, its functionality being identical.
 




Curriculum Management Unit  
Year 6 Clinical Internship 
- Year 6 Management Application  - Due to the large number of institutions and health professionals (supervisors and unit directors) who contribute annually to the completion of the clinical practice component that is part of the Professional Clinical Internship, there was an urgent need to computerize procedures and to reduce paper, for which reason the software to manage year 6 was implemented in the 2006/2007 academic year. 

This was subsequently improved and has enabled students to choose the rotation form online, view the contact details of the places where the clinical internships take place, see the supervisors, check grades, the number of absences, the information on the Final Project, and read any information sent by the Curriculum Management Unit.

- Online Student Record – Since the past academic year, students’ records became available exclusively online. For each of the 6 areas of the clinical internship, students, supervisors and directors access the link and fill it in. This procedure has allowed reducing the amount of paper used (31000 sheets) and streamlined the entire process, making it simpler, quicker, safer and more effective.  




Optional Curricular Unit 

- Requests for Waivers/Credit Transfer –  This application allows students to submit online their requests for credit transfer with regard to studies undertaken in other cycles of study and to their professional experience. Once evaluated, the requests are validated by the Coordinator of the Optional Activities Strand and by the President of the Scientific Council, and students are informed of the final decision by email.  

- Management of Internships and Research Projects – According to information made available by those in charge (number of vacancies and title of projects), students pre-register online during a time period established on a yearly basis. The lists of registered students are sent to each person in charge for selection purposes.  

It must be stressed that all the support that these software applications have been giving over the years to the Academic Area has become indispensable, as attested by the positive feedback we have received, year after year, by all those involved in the process. It is certainly an asset for FMUL to be able to make these services available to users and thus contribute to making the process swifter. The knowledge gained about the processes and on the functioning of the units has also enabled us to meet existing needs.

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Coordination:
Prof. Doutor J. Fernandes e Fernandes
Editorial Commitee: Prof. Doutor J. Fernandes e Fernandes, Prof. Doutor Alexandre Ribeiro, Prof. Doutor António Vaz Carneiro, Prof. Doutor João Ferreira, Dr. Luis Pereira
Information Officer: Ana Raquel Moreira
Editorial Team: Ana Maria Silva, Ana Raquel Moreira, André Silva, Lara Ponte, Miguel Andrade, Rui Gomes, Sónia Barroso, Susana Henriques, Tânia Simões
Collaboration: Communication and Image Office - Ana Isabel Gonçalves da Silva, Bruno Moura
Design and Technical Support: UTI 
Design and development: Spirituc
e-mail: news@fm.ul.pt