4-H Automates and Streamlines the Curriculum Peer Review Process

national-4-h-logo-testimonialThe National 4-H Council is the nation’s largest youth development organization, empowering six million young people throughout the United States. 4-H provides life-changing programs available through 4-H clubs, camps, afterschool and school enrichment programs in every county and parish in the U.S.

In addition to their wide-ranging youth programs, 4-H also develops a variety of educational materials and curriculum with the help of professionals around the country. 4-H needed a solution to improve and automate their national curriculum peer review system for these educational materials.

“We were looking for a system to take this manual process and make it automatic and smooth.”

Tara Wheeler, Director, Learning Products, 4-H

Challenge

According to Tara Wheeler, Director, Learning Products for 4-H, “We used to mail publications to reviewers, have reviewers return items by mail, transcribe edits, and then share edits with authors. We were looking for a system to take this manual process and make it automatic and smooth.” 4-H selected Integrify as their workflow management tool based on the numerous automation options and pricing flexibility.

Before 4-H started working with Integrify, the peer review process was not only very manual, but also poorly defined. Too many people were involved in the process and each person’s role wasn’t clearly articulated. As is often the case, bringing on workflow automation triggered a much-needed re-evaluation and overhaul of the existing process.

Implementation

The implementation and adoption have met all of 4-H’s expectations. “We implemented in 2012 and the system has consistently performed well for us since then.” says Tara.

4-H had the Integrify Services Group build out their entire peer review process to their specifications, advise on best practices and ensure the process was properly tested before launch.

“Before Integrify, a typical peer review process for one new piece of content could take 6-9 months. Now it takes 2-3 weeks.”

Tara Wheeler, Director, Learning Products, 4-H

Since the initial rollout, 4-H has supported a training program for professionals interested in becoming peer reviewers. Passing a web-based course is what qualifies 4-H professionals as peer reviewers. Reviewers are critical to the success of the process and are valued for their expertise in specific subject-matter areas and youth development.  Given their national footprint, when 4-H needed to communicate the new, automated process out to the peer review community, the workgroup responsible for enabling the new process presented a series of webinars to explain how the new process worked and how to use the new Integrify portal. Curriculum authors were trained on the expectations and on how to submit documents for review.

Tara’s experience with Integrify’s service and support has been very positive. “From time to time, we need to reach out to the Integrify support team to assist us with more complex workflow edits and they always take care of what we need in a responsive and friendly manner.”

Results/Benefits

The results of the new, automated peer review process have been striking.

According to Tara, “Before Integrify, a typical peer review process for one new piece of content could take 6 to 9 months. Now it takes 2 to 3 weeks. In addition, the efficiencies have allowed 4-H to publish twice as much content each year.”

Tara continues, “The automation has greatly reduced our internal workload. We’re just much more efficient and smart about how we do things now,” says Tara.

Turning a snail mail system of edits and comments into a coherent, purpose-built, automated online workflow for peer reviewers and content submitters has had a transformational effect on 4-H’s curriculum development program.

Ultimately, workflow automation has made it easier to get more youth and professional development materials out to the kids they serve around the country and we’re proud to have helped make that possible.

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