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Webs and Mortar Can Complement Each Other.

Tompkins Cortland Community College is aggressively pursuing the benefits that e-business can produce in our market. We have been seriously looking at how we do business. Giving students and staff the ability to do business with us beyond our walls is a major drive in the institution. We are now providing students the ability to register online, not simply by filling out a form, but interactively. The functionality enables students to help themselves by determining a schedule, checking prerequisites, time conflicts, co-requisites, stoplist, and course availability.

Our system allows us the flexibility of choosing whom we register online, and how they register. As a beta test we authorized continuing students with a GPA of 2.0 or better to register online. Then we gave faculty the ability to authorize or unauthorize their advisees' selections, as they deemed appropriate. We are training our clerical staff to help students use the Internet and this new functionality to develop a self-service environment. We have found that many students prefer this method.

It also provides faculty with the same self-service benefits. Whatever the administrative task -- looking at a student's transcript/course history for advising, getting an up-to-date class list, or entering grades -- they can do it from their office, classroom, home or (in some cases) even from other countries.

To provide these e-business services, you need a Web-enabled administrative software system. We are using an Internet applications system developed by a company called ABT Inc. TompkinsCortland Community College adopted the ABT CAMPUS system in 1992 as its choice for an administrative software system. Our decision to purchase this software was based on many things: the PC network platform on which it runs; capability of the software; and the future direction and vision of the company. In 1997, we moved to the newly developed Microsoft Windows NT client/server system called PowerCAMPUS. Shortly after this, we realized the need for a system to accommodate remote users and faculty with low-end computers. The World Wide Web was our choice for the system development platform.

In retrospect, we made the right choice. We are now using this system for many of our administrative functions. The product ABT developed, IQ.Student, is based on a series of Active Server Pages that link directly to the PowerCAMPUS SQL Server database. Now the information our students retrieve and enter is directly linked to the "backend" functions performed in the registrar, business, and admissions offices. This product is helping us revolutionize the way we do business at Tompkins Cortland Community College.

The baseline ABT product, now called IQ.Web, gives us a tremendous amount of flexibility. It is also built in a way that allows us the ability to easily customize it and extend the functionality to fit our specific e-business processes.

Our small but motivated staff of technologists has enhanced this product to help us meet the "anytime, anywhere" needs of the individuals comprising our campus community. Descriptions of some of the enhancements follow:

* Class Lookup. This function creates a page that enables administrators to view all students enrolled in classes based on various criteria. This is very useful in identifying anyone who enrolls in our distance-learning courses so that we can create the necessary login/pins.

* Student Course History LookUp. Used by Financial Aid and the Business Office to quickly look up what courses a student is currently enrolled in, along with their enrollment history. It also displays students' attempted credits, earned credits, curriculum and attendance. This application is very helpful in determining a student's eligibility for aid.

* Alumni Association Directory. Members of the alumni association can use this Web-hosted directory to locate information about other alumni association members. The customization involved creating a new SQL database table that contains our alumni membership information. We also are able to control what information is displayed to better meet users' specific needs (i.e., address only; address and phone; address, phone and e-mail).

* Adviser Control of Student Registration. This enhancement allowed individual faculty to more quickly "authorize" or "unauthorize" courses selected by advisees who use the Web Registration and Academic Plan functionality of IQ.Web.

* Class Lists. By altering the class-list page, we provided faculty members with the ability to process a class list with the students' addresses on it. We also added an attendance roster and a menu selection for creating a comma-delimited spreadsheet file that faculty can import into MS Excel.

* Student Course History. During an IQ.Web training session at ABT, we built a new version of the standard IQ.Web page so that staff can select the schedule of a student by semester. The standard functionality defaults the end user to a view of the current-term schedule: the customization now better supports Tompkins' Cortland's practice of reviewing students' preregistration selection of courses for the subsequent semester.

This year, Release 2.0 of ABT's IQ.Web software will be available for Microsoft's Internet Information Server Release 5.0 for Windows 2000. Security can now be extended to the Web-page level. We will be able to offer all our users the opportunity to personalize their campus Internet "portal" (or home page). This release also enables us to comply with new federal legislation, providing functionality that helps visual- and hearing-impaired citizens access Web content hosted by publicly funded organizations, which of course includes the Tompkins Cortland Community College Web site.
Marty Christofferson
Director of Information Technology
Tompkins Cortland
Community College
Dryden, N.Y.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Autumn Publishing
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Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Author:Christofferson, Marty
Publication:Community College Week
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 5, 2001
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