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San Diego State University pioneers webinar-style ID card education

Chris Corum   ||   Aug 07, 2007  ||   , , ,

If you want your incoming freshmen and other new students to learn how to use their new campus card, manuals and brochures won’t cut it anymore. Today’s students don’t bother with them. The next choice is perhaps a workshop during orientation. But that will be crammed with students with other things on their minds: What classes will I get? Where’s the cafeteria? Plus, if they have a question about the campus card, it might be difficult to ask in a room full of his peers. There’s a third option: Create a hands-on style webinar that students and their parents can access at their leisure.

Such a program has been pretty successful at San Diego State University and its creator, Paul Carlisle, SDSU’s card program administrator, says he’s gotten quite a few inquiries about it.

“When we were marketing simply an ID card without services attached to it, we did it (education) conventionally through orientation or open house week,” said Mr. Carlisle. “Orientation takes place just before the fall semester; and we found that was really too late because we had to compete for time” with everything else that goes on during orientation. “They’re here for just 12 hours and they’re bombarded with all sorts of information.”

There was another problem: Some parents couldn’t speak English and had to rely on translators during orientation.

So Mr. Carlisle and his card office developed an online orientation webinar geared to introducing to the student and parent the SDSUCard program.

“We wanted students and parents to be able to access this information anytime they chose,” said Mr. Carlisle. “We also added Spanish, primarily for parents.”

The webinar was up and running this April, but the first major test won’t come until the fall when SDSU’s 33,000 students return to school. However, if early results (from summer classes) are any indication, he has a winner. “It was my idea and I came up with it when I was looking at other webinar type pieces … I thought it might be very good with what we’re doing here,” he said.

It shows students how to use the card “and how to interact with the card, specifically with US Bank (the college’s banking partner). It will take students directly to the bank site to demonstrate the web transfer of funds to their on-campus checking account, how to actually get the card” and everything else the student needs to know about his new ID card, said Mr. Carlisle.

The card can be used as an ATM card off campus and as an on campus debit card. It is also used for what Mr. Carlisle calls “entitlements. You swipe the card at various locations for whatever rights you have, checking out a book, taking tests, meal plans.”

He presented the webinar idea at meetings of the National Association of Campus Card Users (NACCU) and at user meetings of the college’s campus card provider, CBORD. “The lights went on with a lot of folks at these meetings,” said Mr. Carlisle.

Benefits of a web-based, updateable education program

“It’s so easy to manage. We can put together a DVD but if you have changes the next day, then the DVD is no longer current,” he said. With the webinar running on a web site controlled by SDSU, “we can centrally manage any changes. That makes sense to a lot of people.”

The 110-year-old college didn’t have to go outside to get the web site designed and developed. “We had one graphic publications expert and we did it all in-house,” he said.

He said the university sent out about 8,000 letters initially, showing students how to access the web site that will walk them through use of their campus cards.

If other universities want to utilize his ideas, “we’re willing to let them use our design however they want. If they have questions, they can call us and we’d be happy to help them,” he added.

He has one caveat for those thinking of doing something like this. “Make sure it’s ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant so anyone is able to use it.”

To meet ADA rules, he has both audio and text versions available. “This is where you expend a lot of effort,” he said. “You need to determine the needs of your students. You need to have colors that are easy to see. The script and audio has to match the text exactly. All of this is where the most expense lies.”

In the meantime, new students will be pouring into SDSU and Mr. Carlisle will see first hand whether the college’s self-training webinar on campus card use was successful.

It took six months to develop the webinar, which can be viewed at: http://sdsucard.sdsu.edu/webinar/webinarsdsucardservices.html.

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