Case Study: Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP)

Geocent Geocent   on June 15, 2021

Providing an Educational Resource for International Learners

Situated within the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is a program for international students — classified as nonimmigrants — who come to the United States on F (academic) and M (vocational) visas.

This program, the Student and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP), is part of the National Security Investigations Division and works with government organizations to house information on these students. SEVP manages the schools the students attend, the students themselves, and their dependents. More importantly, it enables foreign students to study here in the United States, enriching both their lives and our country.

The Department of State (DoS) manages the program. Both SEVP and DoS use the Student and Exchange Visitor Information System (SEVIS) to track and monitor schools to ensure compliance; exchange visitor programs; and F, M, and J (researchers, interns, au pairs, and more) visa holders while they visit the United States and participate in these educational programs.

 
The Problem: Leveraging a Legacy System While Building a New System 

While SEVIS performed well with its expected workload, SEVP needed something more — a better educational system to train users (both school officials and government employees) on the ins and outs of the entire SEVP process.

This new system needed to customize training modules for each user in a rich, engaging format that properly assessed each user’s grasp of the material while also maintaining an excellent user experience (UX). The users come from a wide swath of people: government officials, teachers, school officials, and more. A single training track wouldn’t suffice.

Though developed independently as new functionality within SEVP/SEVIS, the SEVP External Training Application (SETA) project was challenged with the expectation to connect to and leverage both the existing SEVIS legacy platform as well as the developing SEVIS modernization effort products, the latter being the umbrella under which SETA exists.

DHS valued this initiative so much because of the end goal: having better-trained operators and teachers means the system works better, which in turn allows more foreign students to have a better learning experience in the United States.

Our Approach

In order to provide a robust educational system that allowed users to choose which modules suited their needs best, developers worked alongside project leaders to determine how best to leverage the legacy system and integrate the new functionality.

The details:

  • An open-source Learning Management System (LMS) was customized and extended through plug-ins
  • 22 areas of study were identified within four major learning modules and were delivered as courses within the application; each course was broken down into lessons
  • The learner’s progress was tracked by the LMS, which gauged the student’s ability to absorb the information
  • An open-source learning record store (“LRS”) was added to the architecture to track user interaction with the training courses at a more granular level
  • Data was provided to SEVP’s Tableau reporting application to create dashboards and reports of user activity
  • All training content is delivered in an ADA section 508 compliant manner

The Results

SEVP’s External Training Application has educated shy of 5,000 school and program officials that have undertaken just over 11,000-course enrollments. We have seven modules live right now:

  • SEVP Basics
  • SEVP 101
  • EVP 101
  • Introduction to SEVP Certification
  • Maintaining School Records and the Form I-17 Petition
  • Managing your Designated Program
  • Managing Exchange Visitor Records

An additional seven courses have been identified for future development and delivery: Becoming a Nonimmigrant Student, Maintaining Student Records, Employment and Practical Training, Student Transfer, Closing Out Student Records, K-12 Schools, Privacy and Security, Flight Schools, and a final Cumulative Review.

With this growth in mind, the program aims to educate up to 45,000 learners in the future.
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