KC rolls out online orientation system

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Kilgore College has rolled out an online orientation system to help new students enroll more easily.

At Monday’s board meeting, KC staff demonstrated how the new system works to board trustees and students in attendance.

“The idea was to make sure students had everything they needed to be successful from the beginning through the whole entire process of being a Kilgore College student,” said Title III Project Director Dr. William Stowe.

Displaying slides, Stowe showed how students could login to the system, which guides users through pages of information they can use to register for classes at KC. For example, pages explain how to build a schedule, access the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) and what new students need to do in order to be admitted to KC.

The project was completed with the help of Title III grant funds, which are U.S. Department of Education funds awarded to colleges and universities for projects to improve student learning. KC filed a Title III grant application and received nearly $3 million in funding in Oct. 2017, one of only two two-year schools in the nation to receive such a grant that year.

The funds are being disbursed over a 5-year period. Some have already been used to install new audio-visual equipment in the Woodfin Center for Instructional Technology on campus, allowing the creation of new online learning classes so students can pursue a degree or credential without ever visiting campus.

“When we started this process, the Title III grant enabled us to have the resources to do all this,” Stowe said. “To do the process, we had to get some new technology that would allow us to do the web-based design and edit.”

Stowe described the purchase of several software packages which allowed a team of college staff to review the website and recommend changes.

Additionally, the orientation website will include internal assessments so students can rate how helpful or effective the program was, allowing continual feedback.

“It enables everybody to complete a student satisfaction survey so if something is not what is expected, we can go back and change it, it continuously works to improve the system,” Stowe said.

Stowe described how the orientation system could eventually be linked with KC’s Jenzabar system, a sophisticated software package which allows college administrators to track student information and demographics, providing data for analysis.

If successfully implemented, the Jenzabar system would allow KC databases to be automatically updated when a student finishes online orientation, saving faculty and staff time.

“A manual process would be replaced with an automated process. That’s something we’re working on,” he said.

Stowe said the system is “prepared and ready and tested”, though his team may continue making changes to it, including adding more videos and tweaking questions, to make it fully ready for the influx of new students in the fall.

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