SBCC to use new online tool to improve academic counseling

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JESSIKA KARLSSON, News Editor

City College is planning to implement a new software system in hopes to improve student success and better the college community.

The new online tool, called Starfish, will be used by academic counseling to document interaction with students, and make it more accessible for students. It will also allow instructors to report on any students who are having problems.

“We are very excited about the Starfish enterprise platform,” said Dr. Ben Partee, dean of student development. “And we believe that it will improve and that it will help us with our student success.”

Starfish will be available to students, faculty and academic counselors. It’s completely funded by the state, and the Chancellor’s Office chose City College as one of the first institutions to pilot the new software that is part of the Education Planning Initiative.

“This is free for Santa Barbara City College …,” Partee said. “So this has been a Godsend for us.”

The software is replacing two current softwares, which will save the college about $60,000. Starfish will be customized to fit City College’s unique needs, and give faculty the opportunity to report on student concerns. There may also be a function included to enable staff to send personal kudos to successful students. The program will be accessible on mobile devices to create greater access to academic counseling.

“The hope is that this kind of program can help students access what they need to do better, and also help connect them to resources to help them do better,” said Academic Senate President Dr. Kimberly Monda.

Partee and Robyn Tornay, planning manager for the California Community Colleges Technology Center, presented the new online tool to the Academic Senate. Some of its members will be part of the college team meeting in January to begin the evaluation and planning.

“What’s really important is that faculty are really involved in this implementation,” Partee said.

Partee explained that faculty will be using the tool frequently, and that the college therefore  wants its input. He and other senate members agreed that it will be a waste if faculty don’t use the program.

“It we don’t sell this to our faculty… this is not gonna work,” said Kathleen O’Connor, chair of physical and health education. “We really have to be committed to this product.”

Students are currently not included in the planning implementation team, but Monda said that she is intrigued by the idea of hearing student input as well.

The software is currently being used by approximately 250 schools in the United States, and set to be implemented at City College in summer of 2016.