Portal Making Waves
at Ocean County College
Integrated portals can save colleges and universities time and money by allowing them to locate select content, services and even email in a single, easily managed location.
At Ocean County College in New Jersey (www.ocean.edu), a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution is providing faculty, students and staff with easy, one-stop access to a wide range of content. The college uses portal software from CampusCruiser (www.CampusCruiser.com), which closely integrates with its Datatel financial and student systems, to improve student services, deliver course content, and consolidate student and faculty email addresses. The result: better communication, easier management and security, and a single access point for information.
Ocean County College, located on the Jersey shore just an hour and a half from either New York City or Philadelphia, serves 10,400 students through 1,120 faculty members. As with many community colleges, the public, two-year community college is facing rapid growth and intense interest in its offerings, which include traditional face-to-face classes as well as online and hybrid courses.
To help address that growth, the college is using CampusCruiser PORTAL as part of a tightly integrated suite from CampusCruiser that includes the CampusCruiser ALERT emergency management system, and CampusCruiser LMS learning management solution for hybrid courses. The close integration among all of the products -- branded “Ocean Cruiser” at OCC – has resulted in big savings in training and management, according to CIO August “Chip” Stoll. In addition, because CampusCruiser products are closely integrated with Datatel, information from the college’s financial system and student services, both of which run on Datatel, are easily accessible via the CampusCruiser PORTAL.
As the value of the portal has become more and more apparent, the college has moved additional content into it, according to James McGinty, the college’s executive vice president. “The longer we have [CampusCruiser PORTAL], the more we’re making use of it,” McGinty says, which is driving the product’s already low cost per student down even further. Content behind the portal is secure, easy to manage, and can be reached by students, faculty or staff through a single sign-on process. OCC now stocks the portal with content ranging from all course descriptions to HR forms to proceedings of the college board to information on student services, grades, registration and course requirements. One cost-saving example: Many OCC instructors no longer print paper syllabi for their courses – instead, using the portal mechanism, they can electronically make the course syllabus available to all students, who can then download it at their leisure.
The fact that CampusCruiser products are software-as-a-service, meaning there is no hardware to buy, no software to install, and no upgrades to manage as they are managed off-site by the vendor, has been critical to the project’s high return on investment. “It’s hosted, so there are no physical servers to maintain,” Stoll says. “It’s someone else’s problem if something goes wrong.”
One benefit of the portal for faculty, according to Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs Richard Strada, is consolidation of email addresses. Faculty no longer have to deal with constantly changing student email addresses – through Ocean Cruiser, each student is assigned a “lifetime” email address upon registration that is used for all school communication. Similarly, faculty no longer use personal email addresses for communication with students – they use a single assigned Ocean Cruiser address only. Accessing any content in the portal, including email, is simple and can be done anywhere with Internet access. That let students remotely access online library content, for example, 24 hours a day.
OCC has also seen great success with its emergency notification system. The CampusCruiser ALERT system installed in 2007 has been used numerous times already to broadcast class cancellations due to weather. In the latest instance, Strada says, a message appeared on his phone within minutes after a “snow cancellation” alert was sent.
Because CampusCruiser ALERT is integrated with the CampusCruiser PORTAL, the college has set up a highly effective carrot-and-stick approach to encourage students to sign up for emergency notifications. Grades are now sent out electronically rather than on paper, but to receive them, students must first register in the notification system. The result: fully 98 percent of full-time students at OCC have submitted their emergency notification information. That contrasts sharply with an average for full-time community colleges nationwide of just 66 percent enrollment in notification systems.
Clearly, OCC is doing something right—developing a full-service portal that includes a central email solution, an ever-growing roster of content, and that incorporates its emergency management system. The cost savings, ease of use, and student and faculty satisfaction are helping Ocean County College handle its increased enrollments and growing success.
To learn more visit: www.campuscruiser.com
CampusCruiser (Formerly Timecruiser)
9 Law Drive, Second Floor
Fairfield, NJ 07004