Students are expected to use ctcLink, Highline’s new administrative computer system, by the middle of February.
But the training for the new program, which will cover everything from financial aid to registration, was only made available this week.
The training became accessible to students by Wednesday night, after students pointed out that they couldn’t find it.
Officials at Instructional Technology said they were unaware of the issue.
“There is an existing Student Self Service course in Canvas provided by SBCTC (the State Board for Community and Technical Colleges), but in trying to get a quick answer for you it seems it’s not as openly accessible as we had thought,” said Tim Wrye, executive director of Highline Information Technology Services. “I have an inquiry into the SBCTC on this and will follow up on how to get students access to this.”
The version of this course turned out to not meet Highline’s standards for accessibility.
Fixing this requires work from both Highline, and the vendor that created ctcLink.
The college has sent several notifications to students about the new system.
Emails were sent out to students regarding the ctcLink Nov. 16, 2020; Jan. 14; and Jan. 19 in addition to banner notifications on Canvas.
Despite the e-mails and the Canvas postings, many students said they were unfamiliar with the system.
Wrye said the college is doing what it can to provide students with information about ctcLink.
“There is some local work happening to provide some targeted, digestible documents and videos aimed at students that we will have ready by Go-Live, and the plan is for those to be published in an open Canvas course at Highline,” Wrye said.
ctcLink replaces a number of aging computer systems, affecting nearly everything except Canvas and Outlook e-mail accounts. Faculty and staff have been training on the system since last summer, and the college is winding down a number of computerized processes on the way to the ctcLink launch on Feb. 8.
The system also is being adopted statewide, so that student records such as transcripts will show up in the system at any of the state’s 34 community and technical colleges.
IT has been trying to get students familiarized with ctcLink, Wrye said.
“We have a variety of communication methods going. There is a student-focused ctcLink web page [highline.edu/ctclink/students/], as well as email, Canvas announcements, and social media messaging,” Wrye said.
“We also sent postcards to almost 14,000 students that should have arrived in mailboxes last week,” he said.
“The most important message is to pay attention to the ctcLink student page, as any new or important information will be shared there as it becomes available,” Wrye said.
Students will register for Spring Quarter classes via ctcLink.
“The biggest action for students is to be prepared to activate their ctcLink account and make sure they know how to register for Spring Quarter,” he said. “Student activations will be available Feb. 16, and spring registration starts Feb. 25. Watch the ctcLink student page for training and technical support opportunities.”
So far, however, it appears that students aren’t getting the message.
“This is the first I’ve heard anything about it, to be honest,” said one student who preferred to remain anonymous. “Now I’m worried I’ve missed something.”
“I don’t really know what it is,” said Highline student Melissa Schacher. “All I’ve heard about ctcLink is from the email I received from Highline.”
She went on to say she did not know what the purpose of ctcLink is or why the change is necessary.
“Will this really be a faster thing for us as students?” asked Schacher. “For me personally, going to the Highline website, bookstore, or Canvas works just fine, so I’m wondering if this will really be a solution to a problem.”
Another student also questioned the point of the new program.
“What will this new software be used for?” Highline student Mary Belay asked.
“Is it good or not?” asked student Krisfa Thang, who said she also hadn’t heard of the program.
“One of my professors mentioned it to us during class last week,” said one student.
“I don’t know, I’m assuming it’s going to be like canvas. But for registering into classes,” said another.
The training module to help students use ctcLink was missing for both students.
“There was a training module?” asked one student.
“I haven’t seen anything like that could be related to a training model recently,” said another
In addition to Canvas and student e-mail accounts, the new system will not affect Zoom or Panopto. Students are advised, however, that any changes to their student records should be made by Friday, Jan. 22.
Students will be expected to activate their ctcLink accounts beginning Tuesday, Feb. 16, with detailed instructions on how to do this promised in the coming weeks.
When students activate their account, they will also receive a new student ID number called their ctcLink ID. That number will eventually replace a student’s existing ID number, but students are advised to hang onto the old for the moment.
You can also download the ctcLink app for mobile devices, and a desktop-and-mobile-friendly page (https://wa090.ctclink.us/) is also accessible for those who do not wish to download the app. The link tiles on the home page currently lead to locations on Highline’s general website, but after the switch over on Feb. 8, they will connect to ctcLink-specific pages.
To view more upcoming ctcLink-related important dates and deadlines, visit http://www.highline.edu/ctclink/students/student-timeline/
Reporters Izzy Anderson, Samuel Watson, Brian Dinh, CeCe Onyema, and Tessa Fishnick contributed to this story.