NWACC uses technology to serve its ‘customers’ better

Recognizing that “customer” satisfaction is a key factor in recruiting and retaining students, NWACC has made it easy for stakeholders to access resources through mobile devices—and this attention to service has paid off.

Northwest Arkansas Community College (NWACC) is a public two-year college located in Bentonville, Ark. NWACC opened its doors to 1,200 students in August 1990 and now has more than 7,000 students, making it one of the largest and fastest growing two-year college in Arkansas. It serves another 7,000 students throughout the region with non-credit courses.

Recognizing that “customer” satisfaction is a key factor in recruiting and retaining students, NWACC has made it easy for stakeholders to access computer systems and resources through mobile devices, and this attention to service has paid off: In a recent survey, a majority of students said they were happy with the school’s technology services.

NWACC also has used technology to reduce costs and improve decision making, and it is a state leader in campus technology use. For these reasons and more, we’ve chosen NWACC as our “eCampus of the Month” for November/December.

Here, Paige Francis, associate vice president of information technology and chief information officer for NWACC, describes the school’s ed-tech accomplishments and the keys to its success. (Editor’s note: To nominate your college or university for this award, and to read about past award winners, go to http://ecampusnews.eschoolmedia.com/ecampus-of-the-month.)

How does your campus use technology to advance student learning?

We support all mobile devices, including mobile access to the Blackboard LMS for all classes. We use the PaperCut printing solution to track and manage printing (including wireless printing across campus), SmartEvals for online course evaluations, Ellucian Banner for our enterprise data, the myCampus web content management system for our web portal, and SunGard’s DegreeWorks (a web-based academic advising tool) to help students review their progress.

We offer mobile device charging stations for students to use throughout campus, Google indoor mapping of our campus, and we have redundant (real-time) disaster backup for all our systems. Our latest endeavor is implementing the open-source Bedework enterprise calendaring solution to create a comprehensive marketing/institutional calendar. It’s an amazing product!

Have you noticed an increase in student performance and/or motivation? If so, how?

Yes. Mobile access to our systems is up 149 percent, and calls to our student help desk are up 800 from summer 2011 to summer 2012—not because of problems or issues, but because we’re offering so much more online now, and people are calling just to get a quick walk-through of everything. In a recent third-party survey about our student technology services, a majority of students responded, “Don’t change a thing—technology is perfect at NWACC.”

How do you use technology to streamline administration and aid in decision-making? How has this helped? 

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