August 23, 2018
For a majority of students, the first interaction they have with community colleges is online. Student-facing technology platforms touch all 2.1 million students in California’s community colleges, yet their design tends to prioritize institutional need over the student experience. Without helping prospective students feel a sense of connection and competency in an unfamiliar environment, these online experiences can contribute to feelings of isolation, confusion, and even incompetence at a time when a feeling of self-efficacy is essential to move forward.
The Chancellor’s Office, the CCC Technology Center, and the Foundation for California Community Colleges, in collaboration with the community colleges and in partnership with ideas42, are applying behavioral science to inform student-centered design and practices that will reduce subtle barriers that hinder students’ progress through the early phases of matriculation and educational path-choosing. Our effort is to make system-wide student facing technologies and interventions feel cohesive, connected, and relevant while streamlining the collection of student data to reduce fatigue, repetition, intimidation, and confusion.
As part of this effort, CCCApply is being examined for enhancement opportunities that will simplify, streamline, and improve the student experience and overall usability. While the majority of students have a positive experience with CCCApply, all aspects of the online application process are being reviewed for potential improvement. This focus includes identifying and removing barriers for non-credit and other special populations that will decrease abandonment and increase successful application rates.
Part of the results of the redesign effort so far has been identifying a gap after the college application is complete. Without a structured transition from application to registration activities, many potential students are not completing the enrollment process after application.
Changes to CCCApply will be iterative and the overall redesign plan includes professional development, training, support, and consideration towards the impact on college operations, including the opportunity to solicit feedback. Identified improvements for the fall CCCApply release include:
- Removal or relocation of the introduction page
- Removal of the warning box encouraging SSN entry and simplifying language
- Moving the demographic/personal information page
- Removal of the “review application” page
- Combining the consent and submission pages into one page
The development team will continue to keep the field updated on the progress of the CCCApply redesign. Dr. Omid Pourzanjani, Visiting Vice Chancellor of Digital Futures Lab, recently held a monthly TechTalk on the progress of the redesign, including offering expected timelines for the new system’s release.