Every cloud has a silver lining: gathering information for accreditation

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Capdarest-Arest, Nicole; Hall, John R. (2014): Every cloud has a silver lining: gathering information for accreditation. figshare.

http://dx.doi.org/10.6084/m9.figshare.1094477
Retrieved 02:18, Oct 23, 2014 (GMT)

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Context: The accreditation process requires collaboration with many colleagues in several locations to collect, organize, and assemble the required information. Cloud computing represents a potential solution to the previously‐experienced challenges of working with multiple submitters relying upon disparate delivery methods such as email, postal mail, and USB drives. Sharing and storing the information through a cloud service can permit all authorized users to collaborate from any web browser. Document additions and revisions can be mirrored on all participants’ local computers, while providing mechanisms for reverting changes and backing up data. Given approaching LCME submission deadlines and the concurrent rise of cloud computing, our team chose to create a custom web‐based application that integrates a popular cloud service, Dropbox, to facilitate collaboration on accreditation‐related documents without the need for users to understand the Dropbox service or cloud computing. Objectives: To develop a web‐based application that takes advantage of cloud computing to facilitate the collection and organization of numerous documents from various persons dispersed across two campuses and remote locations, as well as encouraging collaboration in the LCME accreditation process.

Key Message: A tool that uses cloud computing to facilitate the collection and organization of information and the associated collaborative process can ease and improve upon the “traditional” methods of gathering accreditation support data using email, paper documents and hand‐delivered files, all stored on one workstation.

Conclusion: Although the potential for improved efficiency, inclusion of systematic metadata and encouragement of collaboration are built into our application, we have encountered a few obstacles to maximum cloud‐based efficiency. The main roadblock has been adoption ‐ getting users to trust the new workflow and tool. Non‐sophisticated computer users were more inclined to rely on standard email to submit documents. Additionally, in this first iteration of the tool, all documents submitted were dropped into a central inbox in Dropbox for later sorting and organization into appropriate subfolders by core staff. In the future, we intend to add automatically assigned file names to submitted documents and transparently place files into appropriate Dropbox subfolders based on users’ submitted form responses. Once collaborators have attained a higher comfort level with the tool and trust in cloud services, collaboration on reports should be enhanced. 

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