Document Scanning project graduates with flying colours in digitisation – Emerald Journal


Document Scanning project graduates with flying colours

Queensland University of Technology (QUT) lives up to its name with the recent focus on scanning vital student records.

Reductio ad absurdum

When Socrates of Athens told the agora, “The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing”, could he have (in his infinite wisdom), been philosophising the digitisation of student records in third millennium Queensland, Australia?

Probably not.

But his eponymous method of reduction – the very foundation of modern academia – just might have been the inspiration QUT didn’t know it needed for its digitisation of paper records and microfilm containing historical student data.

Eight degrees of separation

With a growing need for academic transcripts, QUT was already on the digitisation front foot.

But with 57,214 individual students represented across eight predecessor institutions – from Brisbane Kindergarten Training College to Kedron Park Teachers’ College and Kelvin Grove College of Advanced Education – it was a race against time to salvage and secure these invaluable artefacts.

From precarious paper records to microfilm degrading quicker than expected, copies of copies losing integrity, and physical quality degrading with each iteration, the motivation to modernise was obvious.

Avantix makes the honour roll

Enter Becky Ashelford. QUT’s Senior Records Coordinator in residence, Ashelford invited Avantix on campus to initially scan around 200 rolls of student records stored on microfilm, followed by document scanning of over 300 archive boxes beset by onerous retrieval practices.

The urgency was twofold, and not lost on Ashelford. “The paper records were rapidly deteriorating and represented the only evidence of past attendance – a legacy that the Governance, Legal and Performance Division could not ignore”.

A crucial data set to preserve, and a timely moment to put the “technology” into QUT, Avantix undertook the task of scanning a total of 75,463 student files of Microfilm and Paper Documents, to expedite their immediate on-demand access.

Digitisation rewrites the record books

The project was executed over three revolving batches to facilitate a live record environment. After 30% of permanent records were successfully scanned and in transit to offsite storage (meeting Public Records Act obligations along the way) – QUT was already accessing its freshly digitised data like an eager undergrad at orientation.

“It literally took seconds to find the records I was after”, Becky recalled, reflecting on her review of original archival files mid-project, which saw a 24% reduction in ongoing offsite storage holdings and significant cost savings for QUT.

And the benefits didn’t stop at speed. Channelling the Socratic Method, 1,645 previously unlisted student records were discovered during document scanning, including more than 150 previously misfiled hardcopies.

Universitas magistrorum et scholarium

Degrees, diplomas, and doctorates aside, the word university boils down to a community of teachers and scholars. Without reliable records, however, community is compromised. This is where Avantix excels.

As Australia’s leading records management provider, Avantix empowers organisations to realise the benefits of digitisation – from safeguarding the integrity of deteriorating records, to streamlining access by reducing manual labour and uncovering valuable data trapped in hard copy formats.

Digitising is, in its essence, a civic service. It is Socrates in the agora, forever simplifying.

As Becky Ashelford attests, “Avantix are consummate professionals – as well as maintaining consistently high standards of scanning, they are always responsive to our requests, and quick to suggest improvements and efficiencies that we can apply to projects to help deliver them on time and under budget.”

Avantix specialises in document scanning through converting traditional paper based documentation into digital files and is a champion of QUT (and all forms of higher education) and their journey towards full digitalisation.


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