Tech Updates
Montcalm Community College continues tech updates to better serve students

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SIDNEY TOWNSHIP —Gone are Montcalm Community College’s days of making thousands of revisions on paper to present a thick packet of course information.

“It seemed fine, but making the book was quite the process. It was a massive endeavor,” recalled Debra Alexander, dean of Student and Enrollment Services during Tuesday’s MCC Board of Trustees meeting.

Alexander explained the old process required staff from throughout the college to gather physical copies of revisions to course descriptions and graduation requirements. Then, hundreds of papers had to be sorted to create the course catalog.

In 2013, MCC streamlined the process by implementing Acalog, an academic catalog management software. Now, all that information is entered, edited and tracked online. Not only did it improve the overall catalog, but it also made it more accessible to students.

Streamlining the course catalog was just the beginning of technology updates. To continue serving students, last year the college implemented Curriculog, a curriculum management software, to streamline the curriculum process.

Curriculog and Acalog are both offered by DIGARC (Digital Architecture), a higher education software company. According to Rob Spohr, vice president for Academic Affairs, the two programs meet in the middle to update course information on the catalog and the website.

“The curriculum committee can approve changes from everywhere,” Spohr explained. “Once it is approved, it goes to the in-process catalog. We also have a permanent record of how it was changed and when it was changed.”

This fall, MCC will be adding and using more software, Simple Syllabus, to continue supporting student success.

Simple Syllabus allows professors or department heads to update syllabus information, such as assessment and evaluations expectations, grading scale and attendance policy. The software then integrates into Canvas, the learning management MCC uses, so students have online access on what to expect in their classes, including textbooks.

“The instructor or department chair will be able to update the textbook information,” Spohr said. “Soon, it will be interfaced with Barnes and Noble, so students can order their books directly from the website.”

Not only does the new program help current students access their course syllabi, but by keeping a repository of syllabi throughout the years, former students can also go back and find their syllabus if they ever need it.

Alexander said Simple Syllabus is one of the ways the college is better utilizing its student information system software, Jenzabar. Starfish, student support software, is another example of taking advantage of programs interfaced with Jenzabar.

With Starfish in place since 2014, professors can report if students grades are dropping or they are missing classes. About 90 percent of professors take advantage of the system.

“The nice thing about Starfish is professors get an email where all the students are automatically defaulted to doing great,” Spohr explained. “If a student is not doing great, the professor can change the checkbox.”

Although MCC has been using software for several years, many community colleges are just catching up, according to Alexander.

“When we go to national (community college) meetings, we’re finding out about something that we’ve already been done,” Chairwoman Karen Carbonelli said.

Carbonelli and College President Robert Ferrentino acknowledged and thanked the Montcalm Community College Foundation for making the software updates a possibility since much of the computer software comes with a hefty price tag during the first year.

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