Quebec college installs apps to track student progress

A Quebec college is using Oracle tools to encourage communication between teachers and students and foster collaboration.

Cégep de Matane deployed Oracle Collaboration suite to centrally manage e-mail, fire-sharing and calendaring.

The software is used to collect grades and can be used to measure student progress.

“The idea behind it was to bring together the personnel and the students and have a user-friendly way of doing it – being able to access their e-mail, their courses and their grades all from one place,” said Louise Dubuc, who teaches English as a second language at the college.

The immediacy of the information allows teachers to see the warning signs if a student’s grades are lapsing and take the appropriate steps, such as encouraging the student to seek extra help. Through a calendaring application, students and teachers can jointly arrange appointment times.

But it’s a two-way street, said Dubuc. “The administration can (track students’ progress), but the nice part also is that the students can do that. They can do directly to their grades and say, ‘Oh, I’m not doing well,’ or ‘The teacher must have made a mistake.’”

The college offers two pre-university programs for Grade 12 students, as well as three-year courses from nursing to computer science. Cégep de Matane is best known for its photography and multimedia courses, said Dubuc.

There are 600 students and 120 teachers currently using the system, which was installed by the Société de réseau informatique des Collèges last year. SRIC supplies management software for Quebec colleges and continues to host the Oracle Collaboration suite for Cégep de Matane.

The biggest issue with the deployment was integrating the suite with the school’s enterprise resource planning tool, Oracle E-Business Suite, said Luc Verscheldem, SRIC’s general manager. The integration allows the school to create a single record for each student and staff member.

“If you register a new student in the back office system, automatically it creates a user account on the portal,” explained Versheldem.

The Cégep de Matane implementation was developed specifically for the college, but SRIC is currently implementing similar solutions for four other Quebec colleges with a view to installing it in various locations across the province over the new few years. “Our guess is that we can offer that solution to all our (33) shareholders,” said Versheldem. “We think we have a big edge over other solutions.”

The majority of SRIC’s clients are primarily French-speaking, but the portal and collaboration can easily be made available in English or other languages.

Dubuc said it has practically eliminated the need for paper. Students can complete assignments online as well as take exams in one of the school’s computer labs. Dubuc said she also uses the tool to write out her lesson plans and can quickly calculate pass/failure and attendance rates for any given class or student.

The tool is used mainly by students and faculty, said René Roy, Cégep de Matane’s IT coordinator, but eventually the school’s administrators will also have access to it. The Web-conferencing aspect of the collaboration tool is only being used by staff so far, but Roy said students will soon has access to it as well.

Roy said he’s anticipating a future release of Oracle Collaboration which would allow for more advanced functionality such as merging two different calendar sets.

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