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Undergraduate course catalog placed online to increase access, improve usability

Sept. 10, 2007
By George Mauzy

For a little more than the cost of printing one edition of the Ohio University Undergraduate Catalog, a new online version has been created thanks to a new indexed and searchable software program. The online version replaces the printed catalog.

The new software cost the university a one-time fee of approximately $100,000, which includes the software and technical support. The university will pay an additional $20,000 hosting fee, which will be the only annual charge. 

In 2006, the undergraduate catalog cost the university more than $93,000 to print 45,000 copies. Rising printing costs made the university's decision to make the catalog available online an easy one, but clearly, there are other benefits. For the past several years, a PDF file of the printed catalog was available on the Web, but it was a static document. 

"The decision to take the catalog online was more about finding a way to make it more usable and practical than just saving money," said Associate Provost for Academic Affairs Marty Tuck. "Research has shown that students primarily use the Internet to research a university's academic offerings." 

According to a 2007 national telephone survey by the National Research Center for College and University Admissions, Noel Levitz and James Tower, about 83 percent of college-bound seniors said the Web is their first resource to search for a university. 

Other benefits to the undergraduate catalog being online:

  • The new software will be used as a recruiting tool because potential first-year students can research the university's academic programs and course offerings from anywhere in the world. 
  • The new software has a Portfolio feature that enables students to place information on programs and courses of interest in their personal portfolio so it can be revisited quickly. The Portfolio option will be activated in the near future.

The Office of the University Registrar managed the implementation of the online undergraduate catalog and is responsible for updating it each year prior to Precollege. 

"The new software provides users with a comprehensive list of all active courses, it improves the accuracy of the listings and it provides these things in an easy-to-navigate, user-friendly format," said University Registrar Debra Benton. "Students can now review the entire catalog using one search process. In the near future, we hope to add a multimedia component to the catalog, which will make it even more attractive and engaging to the user."

Earlier this year, Executive Vice President and Provost Kathy Krendl authorized a search for software to transition the catalog into an online format. The university decided to purchase Digital Architecture's acalog Academic Catalog Management System software because of its proven track record with other large institutions such as University of Virginia, University of Maine, Eastern Michigan University and Eastern Illinois University. 

The 2007-09 graduate catalog also will be placed online this academic year using the same software. The Office of Graduate Studies will manage its implementation and updates.

The undergraduate catalog can be accessed at www.catalogs.ohio.edu.

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Published: Jul 20, 2006 3:50:00 PM
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