A "major" change to the academic offerings at UK

The Universty of Kentucky Office of Enrollment Management and Up &Up partnered together to develop a new way for the academic offereing sat UK to be displayed and searched. Together we built a platform on Durpal 7 that we call the Academic Exploration Tool or AET for short. You can find the site at http://www.uky.edu/academics. So about the project...


Discontinue the creation and use of static PDF’s and outdated, outmoded content for the delivery of academic program information across the enterprise. Additionally, create a user centered design, that engaged both prospective students, current students, advisors, career advisors and campus staff to allow students to reach their goals both academically and in terms of a career. Built a platform using Drupal 7, rather than a website, where stakeholders across the university could manage, update and own their information in Drupal with custom permissions and revisioning processes. Integrate in data from various sources, such as unlimited keyword search for both career and academic keywords, salary, career and work environment data sourced directly from the Bureau of Labor and Statistics as well as specific curriculum information from our student information system.


We accomplished this by mapping all of the content and data points into types and building these categories into content types in a Drupal 7 driven system. From there, we organized all of the needed keywords for search a degree or career (close to 10,000 and counting). From there, we listened, observed and researched. We listened to our students, staff, advisors and faculty about how they advised a student on a career and major. We found ways that the system could help “break the ice” for a new student exploring a life decision. We developed four different ways to identify a major based on some simple questions. When visiting the site, we have four prompts; first - “I want to be a…”, which expands into 10 non-cognitive phrases that are mapped onto one of our 200 degree programs; second - “I want to be a…” which prompts the student to enter in a career keyword: third - “I’m search for…” which prompts the search for a degree program by name; finally - “Browse all” which allows for the filtering of undergraduate, preprofessional, and minor programs. Once the student lands on the results page, they are met with Instagram-like cards that can continue to be filtered, based on additional criteria. Sort by college, degree type and program type. We’ve started building in new view types as well, view alphabetical and grid are now active. Program pages are just a click away, which contain content and information per our research and based on our existing academic degree program sheets. This project is in continuous development, but included collaboration from over 20+ departments and colleges. The inclusion of a real-time curriculum feed will mark the final milestone for the Academic Exploration Tool and will become the only system in the country to allow for academic, career and curriculum exploration.


Would you rather dig through a maze of catalogs and websites or start with “I want to be a…”? The University of Kentucky has fundamentally changed the way we position, deliver and communicate academic programming.  Starting with a user-centric, personal approach, we started with getting inside the student’s heads, creating a set of engaging questions, and using their answers to deliver up the ideal major & minor. Prospective students can explore the diverse range of academic offerings, while current students may want to rethink their path, but they don’t know where to start. This new web experience is searchable, data driven, mobile responsive, interoperable, scalable and UK most visited web property. With now over 50 college-level content authors, it has changed the culture across campus for web communication. Users range from associate deans, advisors, recruiters and web developers.  To date, this has helped advisors ‘break the ice’ and start the conversation about career planning and exploration, as well as alumni, recruiters and academic colleges communicate degree programs with efficiency and ease. Learn more at www.uky.edu/academics

We’ve named this the Academic Exploration Tool (AET), a transformative website which is used across faction to help students apply their interests and career aspirations to connect with hundreds of academic degree programs offered at UK. AET provides a whole new way for prospective and current students to search and explore the majors offered at the University of Kentucky. The platform (Drupal 7) has been built from the ground up to meet not only the needs of both prospective and current students, but also UK faculty, staff and advisors. This project involved migrating from curriculum sheets (PDFs), which were routine, unresponsive, and resource intensive. The platform uses college/departmental level taxonomy permissions to allow for every college to edit and update content (revisions) for their degree program. Each program page has been customized with custom photography and artwork, program statistics, content, curriculum and information specific to that academic degree program. We have utilized the Bureau of Labor and Statistics Public Data API (www.bls.gov) to bring in career statistics, salary information and facts and figures directly from the Occupational Outlook Handbook for each corresponding academic program. Over 5,000 keywords have been imported into the system as taxonomy based on  UT-Knoxville's “What Can I Do With This Major” resource. Keywords continue to improve and expand as users experience the system.

Students can search for academic degree programs via non-cognitive phrases like “I like to be creative”, “I like to solve problems”, “I like to help others” and so on.  The site uses responsive design to deliver great experiences across all devices. Additionally, UK has migrated over to a central ecosystem for planning, auditing and registration, real-time curriculum data (Graduation Planning System or GPS) and this information will be integrated for each degree program via a web-service. This allows for dynamic PDF printing, downloading and sharing of curriculum information. Now, students have one central location to search and explore all that UK has to offer.

A slide deck can be found at https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1GYfRVYaczsz2uSupQfurtL1bFqs1G5X9H5wwbOmpgw8/edit?usp=sharing


Session Track

UX/Content Strategy

Experience level


Drupal Version

Drupal 7

Session Time Slot(s)

04/26/2017 - 14:45 to 04/26/2017 - 15:15
308 - Pantheon