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Tech Center Improves Online Support Communities for Students and Staff

August 21,2020

HelpdeskOn August 1, the California Community Colleges Technology Center migrated its long-time CCCHelp and CCCTechnology online support communities to a new software platform. The new interactive community forum offers features and add-ons to engage students and staff, while significantly decreasing support costs for the community college system.

“Our fresh new look and improved user experience is the result of the new Vanilla Forums community platform that delivers everything we need in an online support community, plus many more features and a knowledge base component that will allow us to increase engagement and provide better support for our users 24/7,” said Roberto Fuentes, Support Supervisor for the Technology Center.

The initial roll-out of the new platform included the basic forum component and a migration of all the existing posts, categories, and users from the previous Get Satisfaction platform, allowing Support Services to maintain a consistent user experience and quality support with very minimal impact to users and support engineers.

“Our first goal was to get both CCCHelp and CCCTechnology up and running quickly, and have all the existing users and data migrated over without affecting our students and staff in the middle of a pandemic,” Fuentes said. “This was important to us because we believed students especially may need online information and support the most, especially at this time of uncertainty right before the fall semester. We also implemented additional social media connections, including Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Microsoft, to give users more options for login.”

With the initial transition complete, the focus has now turned to rolling out the new platform’s many features and tools in a way that will engage users and encourage them to provide feedback and vote for those that provide the most value to them. Feature trials are expected to begin in September and continue throughout the fall.

New Features Promote User Engagement

The first set of enhancements that will be implemented and tested with users are those that are designed specifically to boost user engagement and help create a social bond between the communities and the Technology Center, including social media sharing connections, polling & voting, and badges.

  • Ideation, or polling, allow users to submit and vote on ideas, requests, and suggestions crowd-sourced from the community. It also allows community managers to set user-defined stages and statuses where users can comment on ideas and sort or filter the ideas list.

  • Gamification, or badges, allows moderators to identify users who have shown consistent and accurate replies and provide support to other users. The built-in reputation engine can be used to promote good content and grant abilities to users, and help automate moderation.

  • Sharing content with social media accounts is a standard feature that today’s students will easily recognize and feel comfortable using if desired.

  • A content-rich knowledge base featuring FAQs, articles, video tutorials, and more will help promote self-service support.

Even as new features ramp up, both for students, and for staff and faculty, continue to provide fast and efficient online support for online technology applications and services stewarded by the Technology Center. Support engineers and product team personnel monitor all incoming posts and requests for support, Monday - Friday, 7:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. PST.