Website still in need of tweaking, instructor said.
By Sergio Medina
Nursing freshman Athena Garza didn’t know course syllabuses could be accessed through the Alamo Colleges website, www.alamo.edu.
She was aware of syllabus access through Canvas, as was psychology freshman Rebecca Parrientes and criminal justice freshman Jasmen Halpin, but none of them were aware of access outside of Canvas.
The three of them agreed they wished they had known that.
Gregory Pasztor, radio-television-film instructor, said easy access to syllabuses is something students should be informed about.
“I didn’t think finding the syllabus was easy,” he said. “I don’t think most students know how to find their syllabus for their class. You’re supposed to be able to get to it from the website.”
Pasztor said Canvas is a useful utility once students sign up for a class, but easy access to syllabuses through the college’s website can help interested students learn more about a class before registering.
The district’s homepage does not have a link for course syllabuses available.
Upon accessing “academic resources” on the homepage’s pop-up menu, a new webpage revealing a selection of academic links appears, but underneath the bold letters reading, “Course Syllabi,” a sentence reads: “Learn more (coming soon).”
Per Texas House Bill 2504, course information should be available at no more than three links away from an institution’s homepage.
From Northeast Lakeview, Northwest Vista, St. Philip’s and this college’s homepages, it takes two links to get to the course syllabus directory.
Palo Alto College’s course syllabus directory is three links away.
From there, a search is needed to locate a specific course syllabus.
Palo Alto College’s homepage aside, the quickest route to the syllabus directory is to scroll to the bottom of the colleges’ homepages, where the “concourse syllabi” link is found.
The placement of the link is below the fold.
Below the fold refers to the bottom half of a newspaper page and now also means the area of a website that is only visible after scrolling down a screen.
Course syllabuses can also be found through the district and its colleges’ respective search engines, with only Northwest Vista College not showing relevant results.
Furthermore, the employee directory is not accessible on the district’s homepage.
Only this college has a link to the directory at the bottom of its homepage; it does not appear on the website of the other four Alamo Colleges.
Pasztor said he has had mixed results with the search engine on the website.
Pasztor said the website is a good attempt at organization of district information, but for a new student, it might prove confusing.
“It needs to be tweaked and tuned,” he added.
As an instructor in the radio-television-broadcasting program, Pasztor said his program’s webpage needs updating.
Pasztor said he turned in updated information for his program’s website to the public relations office at this college in mid-January but has not received a response.
“If you go to our website, even though it’s the radio-television, and now we’re doing some film classes, when you go there, it says, ‘what is the radio program?’ — it’s like all the other stuff isn’t there; that’s what I was trying to get fixed,” he said.
Public Relations Director Vanessa Torres said in an interview Feb. 5 she cannot precisely estimate how long updating a website takes because it depends on the content that needs to be edited.
“It depends on if it’s ‘change this one word,’ or ‘change my entire page,’” Torres said.
Under the PR “menu” of services, webpage text-based edits and navigational edits require a one to two-week wait, respectively.
“We definitely don’t want to keep anybody waiting,” Torres said.
Pasztor said technology is in a constant testing stage.
“The hope is that it evolves and changes with feedback — and that they’re open to feedback and that they’re responsive, you know, to what the academic departments need for their students,” he said.
“I mean, that’s all we really care about — making what we do accessible to our students.”