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California Community Colleges Education Planning InitiativeThe California Community Colleges (CCC) Education Planning Initiative (EPI) has recently begun presenting a series of webinars designed to assist CCC staff and faculty with the many tools available from the initiative. As many colleges are winding down the spring term and preparing for summer sessions, new webinars have been added to the EPI website.

Focusing on topics such as CCC MyPath and the Career Coach tool, these pre-recorded sessions provide a deep dive into the EPI products, through an extended discussion. The newest addition to these topics is the Starfish Degree Planner and Early Alert MIS Training Webinar. This 45-minute session features EPI representatives discussing MIS configuration within the Starfish by Hobsons platform.

Systemwide Solution To Address Funding Challenges

The EPI understands that categorical programs have had recent cuts, which have made it more difficult to support student services such as counseling, advising, assessment and tutoring. In addition, because of the disparity in funding between large, small, urban and rural colleges – and perhaps because institutional priorities are varied – some colleges have technology such as degree audit/education planning/counseling case management, while others do not.

Amid this mixed model, a need exists to build systemwide solutions that provide economies of scale and benefits to colleges, regardless of current capabilities. Those colleges without tools can better serve their students, while colleges that are currently paying for a solution may wish to adopt the systemwide solution and apply the savings to counseling resources.

Why Starfish?

The Education Planning and Degree Audit System (EPTDAS) Steering Committee, made up of eight pilot districts, was charged with conducting industry research, developing counselor and student-based requirements, then publishing and evaluating a competitive request for proposal including references from across the country. Three vendor finalists were invited to provide oral presentations and demonstrate their systems to the steering committee.

As a result of this process, the steering committee selected the Hobsons Starfish Enterprise Success Platform to support the goals of the EPI grant. Starfish is a web-based, mobile friendly, software-as-a-service platform that is used by counseling faculty, instructional faculty, staff and students. It comprises three key functional areas:

  • Degree Planner for developing and maintaining step-by-step academic plans
  • Early Alert for student monitoring and planning
  • Connect for online appointments and case management

Building on lessons learned from the piloting effort, the EPI is now focused on a statewide rollout of the education planning toolset. The primary mission of the EPI program is to promote the implementation of an education planning tool. Participation is entirely optional for any California community college. Colleges interested in only Early Alert and/or Connect may still take advantage of the negotiated pricing with Hobsons.

Starfish MIS Webinar Overview

The Starfish Degree Planner and Early Alert MIS Training Webinar focuses primarily on the following areas:

  • Counselor approving a plan as Abbreviated or Comprehensive
  • Reports
  • Archiving and Deletion of Ed Plans
  • API
  • Unapproving an approved plan

The presentation includes reviewing several different documents prepared for the webinar. These include an outline of the content, which contains screenshots to provide context.

The webinar, including the presentation documents, have been posted on the EPI’s website at, under the “Resource Kit” tab, on the “Webinars” page. In addition to the webinar, the website contains vital background information regarding the Initiative as well as status updates. Visit EPI’s website to stay informed about future webinars.

David Quintanilla is a project team member of
the California Community Colleges Education Planning Initiative



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