College Technology

California Community Colleges

State Recommended or Provided Tools & Resources

As part of my final project for the California Community College CISOA (Chief Information Systems Officers’ Association) Certification, I found myself researching State provided solutions for Instructional Technologists.  There were so many things that I did not know existed and were available freely to our colleges.  After completing my presentation I knew I needed to expand the project into a website so everyone could benefit.  This is an unfunded, hobby project built on my personal time and not directly associated with the State Chancellor’s Office.

MY GOAL IS TO HELP RAISE AWARENESS OF THE TOOLS AVAILABLE, SHARE BEST-PRACTICES AND TO GROW THE COLLABORATION OF COLLEGES USING THESE TOOLS.

So many times on listserves we randomly ask “What did you do for this problem?” or “How do you like this product?”  Sometimes we are so overwhelmed by features of products available to us that maybe we only use 10% of its functionality.  There are so MANY places you can find information that you end up spending hours, days, weeks, researching until you feel like you’re making an informed decision.

There’s an expectation that IT administrators stay on top of new technologies and can quickly provide recommendations for every technical problem.  If IT administrators had a place where we could quickly find vetted solutions or if we simply knew which colleges already had that tool, then less time would be wasted on researching solutions.  The problem lies in that we do not know what the other 114 colleges are doing and we end up reproducing efforts. Attending conferences, participating in consortiums and listservs are of tremendous value but we each maintain our own mental list of who to contact at other colleges.  It makes sense, that we would combine efforts and have a central location as a starting point.

The website has multiple sections:

  • Accessibility: A listing of state-provided accessibility tools & sites
  • .EDU Email Perks: A listing of discounts available to students, faculty & staff with .edu email addresses
  • Instructional Technology: A listing of technology resources focused on teaching and learning.
  • State-Created Services: The State Chancellor’s Office is sometimes faced with initiatives or unique challenges that require the development of new and innovative solutions to be developed from scratch.
  • State Discounted Tools: Listing of solutions vetted by the State Chancellor’s Office who provide discounts to California Community Colleges based on state negotiated pricing.
  • State License Software: Software purchased by the state and made available to you for free or subsidized.
  • Support Resources: Documentation, Training, and Communities for Higher Education Solutions.
  • News: Parsed feeds of TechEdge and Chancellor’s Office Newsletters
  • College Technology Plans: A listing of all 114 California Community Colleges and their technology plans (for the ones that I could find).  Each plan is indexed using Natural Language Processing APIs, that allow you to automatically and intelligently parse chunks of text into groups.  It can extract names, organizations, products, etc… into individual “entities” and then you can link the “entities” to Google’s knowledge graph to quickly pull description data and even trends.  At a glance, you can quickly see which colleges tech plans are updated, what the overlapping themes are and find out which technologies each college is using.

WHERE CAN WE GO TO FIND OUT IF THESE VENDORS TRULY DELIVER WHAT THEY PROMISE?

Being part of the CISOA certification program I learned a tremendous amount about how other colleges tackle problems.  In an hour of talking to a group of IT administrators and staff, I could gather more information than what I would find after endless researching on listserves, white papers, case studies and blogs.  Having a community is critical to not only being successful with your projects but spending your time more efficiently.

WE SHOULD NEVER HAVE TO RE-INVENT THE WHEEL IF ANOTHER COLLEGE HAS ALREADY DONE IT.

One of the most difficult realities of working in the community college system is you always have an overflowing plate of work to do.  You probably have a list of projects that spans 3-5 years and that’s assuming you do not add anything extra to it which, let’s be realistic, is impossible.  There’s an expectation that we stay on top of new technologies and can when can provide recommendations on solutions for every technology problem at the drop of a hat.

WE NEED A PLACE WHERE WE CAN SEARCH A SOLUTION, SEE REVIEWS ON PRODUCTS AND SERVICES ALL IN ONE PLACE.

There are only so many hours in a day, I work full-time, love my job so I work far beyond normal hours and I am tackling grad school.  I want to be realistic about how much work I can put into this website ongoing.  Its success is highly dependent on the adoption and contribution of users.  Am I missing a resource? Would you like to write a review on a product?  Do you have a best practice you want to share?

TELL ME WHAT I NEED TO DO SO IT CAN BE A RESOURCE FOR ALL OF US NEEDING TO SOLVE CALIFORNIA COMMUNITY COLLEGE TECHNOLOGY PROBLEMS.