The latest initiatives related to Strategy 2015 are focused on creating more of a student-centered culture here at Simmons, and providing services to students in a format and location that is best for them.
This spring, Simmons College Technology launched several new applications to improve the student experience. In late May, students were migrated from Webmail to Gmail and Google Apps for Education.
According to Debra Orr, Simmons executive director of Technology/CIO, the migration of student email to Gmail was in response to student feedback strongly indicating that Webmail did not meet their needs. Gmail and Google Apps for Education addresses this by offering a calendar, and integrating collaborative tools such as Google Docs and Sites. For more information visit gonegoogle.simmons.edu.
Orr says that students are adjusting to the new offerings and she expects to provide additional information later this summer when students return for the fall semester. Additionally, many faculty and staff also have inquired about Gmail and Google Apps for their business and academic purposes and IT is evaluating options for faculty and staff as well.
As a complementary tool, Simmons College launched the new one-stop platform, Simmons Connection, in June. This new portal is available for all students, faculty, and staff, and replaces the older My.Simmons portal. “While the My.Simmons portal had served the community well, it was time for a new platform that will enhance our ability to leverage current functionality and give everyone access to all Simmons online resources from one location,” said Orr.
Simmons Connection integrates many of the technology services offered at Simmons (AARC, course schedules) and adds new services like email and event management. Two new features are Planga and Mox. Planga is a new event and group management tool and Mox is a mobile app that provides access to many Simmons Connection features.
A major benefit for students is the new course catalog. The new interface allows students to ‘shop’ for courses much more easily.
Student Services Migrate to One Floor
After assessing the most recent student satisfaction survey, it was clear that students were frustrated by what they saw as the “Simmons runaround” - the need to go to several different offices, sometimes on different floors or buildings, to get the necessary information they needed. As a way to address this student concern, the College has made more services available online, such as parking and ID card transactions, and is now working to physically co-locate all the offices necessary for student services, like the Registrar, Student Financial Aid, and Student Life as well as student program offices such as Study Abroad, Honors, and the Scott Ross Center.
Simmons will work toward co-locating student services on the first floor of the MCB. The goal of this project is to make it easier for students to move around and access all the resources they need. The first phase of the project will happen this summer. According to President Helen Drinan, the College ultimately plans to group student services on the first floor of the MCB, senior administrative offices on the second floor of the MCB, and the CAS dean’s and many CAS faculty offices on the third floor. Classrooms currently on the first, second, and third floor will remain where they are.