Catalog Management Systems: You shouldn’t have to choose between online and print
Over the next few months, we'll be launching CatalogM, the most revolutionary catalog management system universities have seen in years. But before that, here are some nuggets of wisdom regarding course catalog management that we've learned along the way. To find out more information about CatalogM, contact Katie at email@example.com.
Why you need an online catalog
A university’s course selection is one of the top reasons to choose a school. In terms of recruitment, then, a university course catalog can strongly affect a student’s decision to apply to a school. However, it’s not like you can hand out a printed course catalog to every student that visits the campus. And don't forget - not every student can afford to visit the campus.
We’re in a world where everything is done online. If students can apply online, take a tour of your campus online, and meet their roommate for the next year online, why shouldn’t they be able to check out the course catalog online?
A simple-to-use, interactive and informative online course catalog can make a huge impact on a student’s decision.
What you need to consider when choosing a Catalog Management System
Traditionally, university course catalogs were all print. That’s not the way of it anymore. There’s been a paradigm shift in not only the way course catalogs are managed, but with the way that information is shared. We no longer live in a print-minded society, and haven’t for some time, so for those who are so focused on keeping print alive, wake up. You’re fighting a losing battle.
However, that doesn’t mean that you should just slap your catalog online and that be the end of it. There is still a place for print catalogs, and there are still champions of the print. But majority rules. You have to have an online course catalog.
Therein lies the problem.
So many Registrars are so traditional and so dedicated to the print catalog, that this isn’t an easy transition. So you’ll begin to see a few different things:
- Universities with no online course catalog
- Universities that simply upload documents or PDFs to their university website
- Universities that manipulate their catalog in a way that makes it more web- and user- friendly and eliminates the print-like qualities.
Obviously, what works for print won’t work on the web, and vice-versa, but in terms of what’s currently available, universities are really forced to choose between having a great print catalog or a great online catalog; it’s very difficult to find a catalog management system that supports both.
However, some do offer ways to export catalogs to Word, allowing the universities to make changes before printing. The problem here is that the overall structure of the exported catalog is based on the web version, which is usually very hierarchical and has a much more rigid structure than a traditional print catalog would have.
The other problem is that most catalog management systems force the university to do things differently. Of course, they have to learn how to use a new system in terms of updating and maintaining their catalog, but it goes a little further than that. Most catalog systems force your content to fit into specific pockets into a specific hierarchy, ultimately completely changing the way you do things.
So, where is it going?
At some point, universities are going to need a more comprehensive system. And really, we’re at that point right now.
Universities need a way to have a strong online course catalog without completely re-writing their print catalog and having to change it to fit into a system.The system needs to support unique needs without costing a fortune, and without spending months reorganizing the catalog. However, the system must also help the university systematize their catalog.
Sometimes print catalogs have no rhyme or reason. They don’t always have a concrete structure. They have missing pieces of information. Catalog management systems already do a good job of helping to building that structure and making the catalog more systematic for an online version, but it takes away a lot of the beauty of print when it forces the content into structured, hierarchical buckets. Catalog management systems should give a nod to both print and online, making it easy to please both sides, and ensuring that the university doesn’t have to choose between the two.
We initially partnered with Pittsburg State University, which was looking to do something different than the options currently available for universities and wanted a balance between their online catalog and the print catalog without having to change the way they currently do things, and created CatalogM in an effort to bring something new to the table. Because that implementation has been so successful, we want to help other universities do the same. More information on that partnership is coming soon.
If you'd like to learn more about how you can be a part of this project, please email Katie (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Image Source: Google Images, catalogm.allofe.com