Small But Meaningful – Blue 8.0.3 – A Q&A with Director of Product, Nitin Sharma

Image of course blocking available in Blue 8.0.3

Blue is Explorance’s holistic Experience Management (XM) platform. It facilitates gathering all the feedback data collected at a Higher Ed institution or Enterprise-level business in one place – supporting data-driven decisions with best-in-class integration, automation, and robust reporting.

Blue supports both Student Experience Management (SXM) and Employee Experience Management (EXM) strategies by enabling better course evaluations, survey management, 360 degree reviews, and more.

The last major update to Blue – Blue 8.0 – delivered a new visual experience for all stakeholders in the feedback process, and enabled organizations to make better informed decisions with Blue.

In our latest conversation with Director of Product, Nitin Sharma, we get a sense of what this week’s update, 8.0.3. brings to the table.

What’s new in Blue 8.0.3?

  • All courses block for Canvas – introducing a ‘block access to all courses’ option until the student has completed all critical tasks assigned.
  • Minimum thresholds in reports for multi-rater reviews
  • New Interfolio authentication options – Allows for a new key-based authentication option within the Blue Portal Integrator (BPI) allowing for a more secure SFTP connection between Blue and Interfolio.

Hi Nitin. This appears to be quite a minor release, but it packs some important details too.

Nitin: Yes, I’d agree. You could call Blue 8.0.3 small but meaningful. We have a few different items within this that touch on new aspects of Blue. We’re going from enhancements to Blue connector, to enhancements to how BPI works, to enhancements to Blue reporting. A good number of updates were made in response to client requests – delivering the quality and responsiveness that our clients expect from Blue.

Let’s tackle them then. What lead to the delivering of an ‘All Courses Block’ for Canvas?

Nitin: There was two main use-cases that lead us to expand our course blocking feature. Blue Connector has allowed blocking of certain courses, and grade blocking was also allowed. Now we’re expanding that blocking capability to ‘all courses’. The two uses cases were institutions that leverage course blocking to drive responses. This is an additional tool to allow them to do this without having to do so at the specific level.

This can be configurated for one use case, where – for example – that a student would need to complete all their four course evaluations before they can access another courses. This continues to drive response rates.

In the second use case, you might have course evaluations assigned to you, but you might also have a general evaluation too. Perhaps the institution wants to gather information on the services that were made available to you, as a student, this semester. Maybe that’s the only evaluation they want to have done before you permit access to other courses. Therefore, we’ve expanded to allow all course blocking, but also the capability of being able to select which projects prompt the blocking.

This is coming out as part of the 8.0.3 update, but this is a Blue Connector feature, so it will work with environments utilizing Blue 7 or Blue 8. As ever, we strongly recommend upgrading to Blue 7.21 if you’re still using version 7 of Blue, but it’s not a requirement. And a friendly reminder, this is only available alongside Canvas for now.

That’s great that you’ve been able to realize in line with client needs. What about the provision of minimum thresholds in reports for multi-rater reviews? What’s the thinking behind this?

Nitin: This one was prompted from direct customer feedback. We’re seeing more and more institutions and organizations utilize Blue to expand their 360 review processes. As a platform, that’s something Blue excels at facilitating, for Higher Education or Enterprise. Depending on how you run your 360 degree reviews, you can now allow people to choose who they’re going to be rating. This update was designed to bring the self-enrollment capability into expanding and generating a 360 degree report.

Essentially, this update was about making sure there is a minimum number of responses before someone can view a report block. Let’s say your direct reports have less than three responses – then you can choose not to show this report block, or to merge it with another one. This allows you to show data without having it be identifiable.

This would be useful as regards facilitating a private policy. A lot of organizations will follow a rule of following a minimum number of responses, and if not, they won’t leverage it. That’s why this feature provides two options – if it doesn’t meet the minimum threshold, don’t display it, or alternatively, merge it into a group where the data remains anonymized.

And finally, we have new authentication options related to Interfolio. What do these consist of?

Nitin: Interfolio is a software company we partner with, providing integration between Blue and their products. What this update delivers is support for a new key-based authentication option within the Blue Portal Integrator (BPI), allowing for a more secure SFTP connection between Blue and Interfolio systems. What I like about this is that it represents a continuation of that positive process of integration between Explorance and Interfolio products, which has been in place for several years.