The CalCentral portal — calcentral.berkeley.edu — has been built gradually, but is now being launched campuswide, and CalMessages have been sent out to students, faculty and staff. Its design is responsive, so it can be used as easily from a mobile device as from a computer.
Students, staff and faculty who sign on have access to slightly different information, tailored to their needs.
The student part of the project is the most complete, so far, with the recent addition of financial data. For students, the website is the digital counterpart of Cal Student Central, the one-stop student-services office that opened in Sproul Hall a year ago — but with their own personal information available 24/7, from anywhere.
Students signing in to CalCentral with their CalNet ID will find that it gathers all the different systems they use to navigate courses, waitlists, calendars, email, student groups, shared documents, collaborative work, messages from professors and — perhaps most importantly — finances. BearFacts, TeleBears, CARS, bConnected, bCourses, bSpace, CalLink and Financial Aid have all been brought together at CalCentral, and their use has been integrated.
“This is a big deal for students,” says Bernadette Geuy, a campus IT specialist and CalCentral product manager. She and Eli Cochran, of Educational Technical Services (ETS), are leading the design and development efforts for CalCentral.
“When they get to campus, they learn about the different systems over time,” Geuy explains. “This is a place that gets them started finding all the information they use.”
Adds Cochran, “One of the problems we’re trying to solve for students is that they really have to dig into multiple systems to get information. With CalCentral, we’re bringing the data to the surface.”
A student’s individualized CalCentral dashboard is designed to show, at a glance, the answers to two questions asked daily: What do I need to do? And where do I need to be?
When’s that exam? It’s there. How can my registration block be removed? CalCentral will tell you how. Have I fulfilled my requirements? The site shows course enrollments, grades, GPAs, registration deadlines. As actions are taken, they’re tracked. Alerts flag problems and items that need attention.
The “My Finances” section, added late in the fall, for the first time lets students see their complete financial picture: what they’ve paid, what they owe, what’s coming due, financial aid kicking in. It’s like checking a credit-card statement online, and simplifies what has been a complicated system for staying on top of the money thing. (A video showing how “My Finances” works is posted online. A FAQ is here.)
CalCentral’s managers say the need was there, and they expect the financial function to be a big improvement for students.
“Over half the inquiries they get at Cal Student Services are about financial issues,” says Cochran.
The “My Academics” section displays complete information about courses a student has taken (semester by semester), grades, major, standing, estimated GPA, registration, blocks, which university requirements have been met. There’s a GPA calculator and a final exams schedule for the current semester.
Graduate student instructors see courses they’re teaching as well as the ones they’re taking.
A “My Campus” section opens a directory of links to campus services, including human resources, shared services, academic departments, policies and procedures, and administrative functions.
CalCentral’s staff and faculty dashboards consolidate bConnected information, including email, calendar and bDrive, plus the “My Campus” information. Faculty also have access to their teaching history — current and past, plus any courses being taught in bCourses and bSpace.
The staff section is a future target for expansion, according to Geuy; among items that could be added are alerts and information that would help people do their jobs.
CalCentral is an ETS and Information Services and Technology (IS&T) initiative, in partnership with Student Affairs. The campus’s Operational Excellence program played a significant role in sponsoring the analysis and early design work of the student “My Finances” feature.
The portal is intended to fill a gap by bringing services together in one place online. “CalCentral gives people a starting point for navigating Berkeley, especially students, while the campus goes about the longer-term work of replacing the core students information system (SIS), Geuy says.
CalCentral is online at calcentral.berkeley.edu.
An overview of the project can be viewed as a PDF here.
More information about CalCentral, including FAQs and videos, can be found on the ETS website.