UC Berkeley launches CalCentral to integrate online resources

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CalCentral/Courtesy

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UC Berkeley is finally launching CalCentral, a new program aiming to simplify the way students navigate campus online resources.

CalCentral will launch Wednesday and combines bConnected, bCourses, Financial Aid, bSpace and BearFacts in one convenient portal. It will also include bConnected email, CalLink student groups, messages from professors, registration status, final grades, financial aid messages and bCourses assignments, among other features.

According to Oliver Heyer, manager of Learning Systems Group, the beta release of CalCentral will target roughly 9,000 students, staff and faculty members. First-year undergraduate students, first-year graduate students and those who use the Canvas learning management system pilot, will be able to use it starting next week.

“Many universities have portals to pull them together, but they aren’t necessarily comprehensive,” said Jennifer Stringer, director of Educational Technology Services. “CalCentral is our effort to build a system that will become a comprehensive hub for student information.”

CalCentral was first discussed when student groups met with student affairs three years ago with an idea to consolidate the portals, according to Stringer. Later, student affairs collaborated with Educational Technology Services, and 11 months ago, the technology’s implementation was finally under way.

Ming Yin, a campus senior, says it is beneficial to streamline the antiquated portals that students have to navigate every day by instead having one updated system to access campus resources from.

“I remember bSpace having a lot of downtime, and that is pretty dangerous right before exams, so as long as it is a stable platform, I think that it is a good idea,” Yin said.

Campus senior Gabriel Fregoso, on the other hand, views the platform as an unnecessary change.

“The way I see it now is that it is not too complicated, so making the switch over to one website is a little bit unnecessary, in my opinion,” Fregoso said. “It is not going to make it any better or different.”

Students who are not included in the beta release will continue to use the existing portals available to them.

Stringer said that although the pilot does not yet integrate all the websites that students use, it should be much more comprehensive and developed in a year’s time. For example, CARS and MyFinAid will be added to CalCentral in the spring.

“We say that in the summer of 2014, it will no longer be a project and that it will be (fully capable), operationalized in the same way that bSpace is a service that we can rely on,” Stringer said.

Contact Sophie Mattson at [email protected]