Higher Ed Live Special Edition:
The Catalog to End All Catalogs
by Carol Clements on May 05, 2015
Did you miss the Higher Ed Live Special Edition broadcast on online course catalogs, “The Catalog to End All Catalogs,” with Nathan Gerber from Utah Valley University (UVU) and Dawn Truelsen from Fresno State? If so, no worries! I’ll sum it up for you, or you can watch the recorded version in the Higher Ed Live archives.
So here was the essence of the show…
As we know, printed course catalogs are becoming largely obsolete. Faced with mounting printing costs, regularly out-of-date content, and laborious maintenance, institutions everywhere are taking their catalogs exclusively online. During this episode, Nathan and Dawn came together to share how their institutions made the transition to an online, responsive course catalog.
At UVU, the Catalog and Curriculum Office was spending enormous amounts of money on printed catalogs, which had online PDF counterparts, while struggling to keep content current. Realizing there are better ways to utilize the funding, the Curriculum team joined forces with Marketing and Web Development to bring students a responsive catalog. During the Higher Ed Live broadcast, Nathan explained how the university was able to leverage their existing resources, including the OU Campus content management system (CMS) and their student information system Banner by Ellucian. With the necessary systems in place, the only task remaining was to maximize the user experience. To accomplish this, UVU gave the catalog a clean design, well-structured navigation, and search capabilities. UVU also started publishing the catalog information to an XML data source to allow content to be repurposed externally, guaranteeing the accuracy of information site-wide. The catalog’s success is evident. Analytics show a drastic increase of visitors viewing course and degree information, with those visitors spending significantly less time trying to find what they need.
Fresno State’s Story
According to Truelsen, Fresno State had a similar experience switching to a responsive catalog. Until three years ago, Fresno State was still distributing printed catalogs with static PDF versions online. When the university decided to make the website mobile-friendly, the Web Development and Curriculum teams set off to ensure the course catalog would also be easily accessible from anywhere. First, there needed to be a major overhaul of the catalog information in the university’s existing PeopleSoft system, which was full of excess information and outdated content. After cleaning up PeopleSoft, Fresno State turned their focus to making the online catalog easy to use. The primary requirement was to have the most important information and features immediately visible without scrolling, even on the smallest screen size. A flexible search was also crucial for students to be able to quickly find information. The university implemented each necessity, redirecting the printing budget toward the creation of the online catalog. Now, Fresno State wields a responsive and easily managed catalog that is always up to date.
Mark Your Calendar
Check out the broadcast on Higher Ed Live to learn more about UVU and Fresno State’s journeys implementing responsive course catalogs. Then, tune in to Higher Ed Special Edition on Friday, May 8, 2015 at 1:00PM EST to discover how Donna Talarico-Beerman from Elizabethtown College and Noelle Seybert from Pepperdine University are using social media to direct prospective students to their websites. You won’t want to miss it!