The start of a new year is a great time look back at the previous year. Below are some highlights on the progress that our team has achieved in supporting the UC Berkeley academic experience with responsive, essential, and innovative technology services. In 2017 we look forward to continuing support for students, faculty, and administrators in achieving their goals in our increasingly connected world.
Last year, several aspects of the Berkeley online experience were consolidated and absorbed into a “one-stop-shop” for all members of our campus. Before, one had to navigate several pages to access services like enrollment, financial aid, and transcripts, and more. Thanks to ETS and the Student Information Systems team, CalCentral is now the singular portal for students to stay up to date on their information. The project is a culmination of an campus-wide effort that began back in 2005 and has been in development since 2013.
Beginning in February 2016, all newly admitted students for the Fall 2016 semester received their admission notifications and registration checklists at CalCentral. The new Golden Bears were the first to check their status, submit their statement of legal residence (SLR), and take other administrative steps all in one place. A month later, the portal was extended to enrolled students and slowly the myriad of places that Berkeley used for its services such as Tele-BEARS, CARS, MyFinAid, and BearFacts were turned into one.
By setting up CalCentral as the main hub of life as a Cal student, all the pieces of information can be accessed in an accurate and easy way. With integration support built-in, a student’s calendar and classes can be merged seamlessly together. Nowadays, all Golden Bears start their Cal journey and are eased through the process in one place: Cal Central.
ETS joined the rest of campus in celebrating Cal Day, the annual Saturday when the campus gets to show off all the amazing things that happen in Berkeley to new and prospective students. We provided audio-visual support for several of the presentations going on that day and our technicians were available beforehand to support faculty in their presentations to the public. The day was a fantastic exposition of all the things that make our University great and we loved being there to help. Go Bears!
An iconic landmark of UC Berkeley’s campus, Wheeler Hall has closed for a year for much-needed renovations. When it re-opens in Spring 2017, it will be more energy and water-efficient with fresh coats of paint and a new elevator to reach all floors. The new interior will bring the space into the 21st century with new air and heat systems as well as new lighting. However, with the construction comes the logistical challenge of accommodating all the clubs, DeCals, and classes that meet in the historic building, especially the large lecture classes that were conducted in the 700-person auditorium. With ETS’ help, the university has located alternative spaces and is helping faculty adjust to temporary adjustment. Among the support services that we offer are in-person faculty consultations and virtual visits to classrooms in addition to any other technology needs that arise. We can’t wait to see what the new space looks like next year!
bCourses unveiled a brand-new User Interface (UI) that maintains the comprehensive features from before while adding easier navigability on mobile devices and an updated overview the student’s courses. Now after logging on, all classes appear as tiles that can be personalized with course nicknames and custom tile colors. Features like announcements and course files have easy links to follow and students can stay up to date with a news feed that updates with each new post. Along with the new interface, bCourses also received an updated logo that is consistent with the fresh new look. As the main site for students to look at upcoming due dates and assignments, bCourses is now more accessible than ever and looks good doing it.
Over the summer, MyFinAid was integrated into CalCentral as part of SIS’ goal to consolidate all the university’s resources under one roof. WIth the new update, students can check their Financial Aid in the “My Finances” tab of the site. It automatically differentiates between Gift Aid and other Funding sources so that students can clearly see a breakdown of their tuition and other costs.
In July, ETS rolled out Canvas Commons and SuiteC integration within the bCourses interfaces. These new features further ETS’ effort to provide collaborative support to the campus and ease the use of class materials for instructors and students alike. In Canvas Commons, instructors can upload and maintain a cache of course documents and data to reuse and share with other educators around the campus, country, and globe. With SuiteC students will have an easier time uploading and collaborating on work in the classroom. With three new tools at their disposal, classrooms will be more integrated with the vastness and richness with all that the Internet has to offer.
As the Fall semester was almost upon us, we added CalNet integration into the Course Captures for many of the large lecture classes. With the added layer of security, we ensured that class materials were kept within the Berkeley community with a simple login that is familiar to everyone. The integration protects faculty as well as students while still retaining the ease of viewing lectures from a device on YouTube.
In the spirit of collaboration under the OneIT initiative, Educational Technology Services and Campus Shared Services Information Technology (CSS IT) came to an agreement to combine their services and provide the university with a comprehensive range of tools to meet their technology goals. CSS IT will provide web, email, and phone support to the individuals and organizations that use ETS services like Clickers, bCourses, Course Captures, and more. Berkeley is known for its spirit of cooperation and teamwork in the pursuit of excellence and with the merging of CSS IT and ETS services, the university as a whole benefits from effective and efficient IT support.
As the world of higher education continues to adapt technological change, ETS strives to keep our Berkeley community on the cutting edge. With the launch of the Accessible Course Content website, our team can best support anyone on campus that seeks to create digital content online with help at every step of the way, from its to its publication. ETS, along with its campus partners, has created a tool to remove the barriers standing in the way of anyone trying to create and review course content.
In an effort to facilitate the reservations of classroom spaces both for academic sections and one-time room requests, the Office of the Registrar has replaced older classroom management and information systems across campus with a new website called 25Live. With easy-to-use navigation for faculty, staff, and student signatories, the new site ensures that space needs are met. The site even has the option to filter a request based on the location of campus, the size of the room, and the option of moveable desks for active learning. The technology information about the rooms such as projectors and monitors once managed through an ETS website has been added to 25Live. Whether it is a discussion section or a club meeting, 25Live is just one more example of ETS’ commitment to working with partners to improve the campus experience for students, faculty, and staff.