Web Site and Tech Changes

Navigating Whatcom’s new Web site

by Mary Lyle

Horizon Reporter

Advanced. Complicated. More informative. Unnecessary. Closer to a college university. These are some of the students’ opinions about the new Web site for Whatcom Community College.

The new Web site has been in the works for over a year, and “is always a work in progress,” says Nate Langstraat, associate director for advancement and foundation for Whatcom.  The Web site is constantly being worked on for improvement, and will continue to change in phases when new updates are ready.  As reliability on using the Internet for enrollment and keeping students informed about the college resources continues to grow, updating the Web site is a must to keep up with new technological advancements, he said.

Building the new Web site took about 15 to 20 people, and cost around $11,500 for the bulk of the main site.  Langstraat says the Web site could have easily cost $60,000, and that $11,500 is a low price for how advanced the new site is.

Google Analytics, which tracks what visitors to the page are searching and viewing most, was used to gather information for what resources and information should be added to the new Web site.

“It’s really exciting for the first step to improve the overall functionality and to get students informed,” says Langstraat on putting forward the new Web site.

The new Web site now features Quick Links, a pullout tab that directs you to a variety of campus information and resource links.  Visitors to the page can also type in a question to search on Quick Links that will pull up answers to the question.

Students met the new site with differing reactions.  Katherine McDanold, a Whatcom student for two quarters, says the new tabs and Quick Links “make the Web site flow and function better.”

Another student, Ben McCoy, says the Web site’s new graphic designs have improved, but the “overall navigation is not as intuitive.”  McCoy says he preferred the old Web site over the new one.

“It’s like when Facebook changes its page,” says student Levi Lott. “Everyone complains that they want the old one back until they get used to it. Then they don’t even remember the old one.”

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Technological changes for Whatcom students

by Mark  Botzong

Horizon Reporter

If you are an enrolled Whatcom Community College student this winter quarter, you have probably noticed some new changes with computers on campus. Some are more significant than others, but all have an intended purpose. The Horizon sat down with Ward Naf, Information Technology Director at Whatcom, to get more information and his opinions on these new improvements and changes.

Naf oversees and directs all IT aspects of Whatcom’s campus. From computers to phones, he makes sure everything runs smoothly. The new features winter quarter is because they were “requested by students in the past,” he said. “More automated features make things more efficient.”

First off, all students are required to have a network account with a user name and password. Students get a My Documents folder with storage space, as well as free web-based Microsoft Office. Also, the ability to use a wireless account on a laptop (without having to renew it every six months) is new.

“There are more features coming up,” Naf said. “We are working on integrating Moodle with your existing name and password.” Moodle is the hub for all online-assisted classes.

Perhaps most notable is that every Whatcom student now has a new .edu email address. This comes with a user name that one must enter to log into computers on campus and on Wi-Fi accounts. Each student’s network account also allows everyone to have 5GB of local network file storage and 25GB of online storage via SkyDrive. Naf said one of the best computer features is “the ability to store files.”

In previous quarters, students were required to set up a wireless account on their own individually. Now, students can log on with their laptops using their new user name and password. This is much more convenient and is ready immediately.

Another major change is the requirement to pay for all printing on campus. Beginning this quarter, all students receive a $15 credit on their ORCA I.D. card to be used for printing and copying. When one logs into their WCC account, the computer keeps track of how much one has in their account. When printing, a dialog box appears confirming the deduction from one’s ORCA card balance. Naf said there were “multiple reasons” why WCC is trying to limit printing.

“Mostly environmental reasons,” he said. “People last quarter would print much more.” Naf gave examples of how students would print less necessary pages, thereby wasting paper.

“Now,” he added, “they think before they print.”

Because of the $15 credit, students can print about 150 pages at about 10 cents each before having to pay out of pocket. “If you aren’t printing 151 pages, you aren’t paying for printing,” Naf said.

“It seems to be pretty successful,” he said of the changes. We have very few complaints. There’s going to be a learning curve, but we are happy with it.”


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