30 September 2008

College Data on the Web: U-CAN

As the College Portrait: Voluntary System of Accountability (VSA) rolls out its new website (which will be reviewed here later), I looked at the independent college alternative called U-CAN. Profiles of accredited, private, and not-for-profit schools are presented on a website that's old enough to already be in its second version.

Fast facts about U-CAN:

  • stands for University and College Accountability Network
  • displays basic facts about schools (admissions, tuition, etc.)
  • sponsored by the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities
  • data display not limited to NAICU members
  • charges no fees (to schools or to web visitors)

U-CAN launched in 2007 with 600 schools displaying data; the updated web site (called U-CAN 2.0) was launched September 17 with 728 participating institutions and advanced search across 17 variables. The interface is sophisticated with multiple methods for locating schools (including browsing by Institution, by State, by Affiliation/Mission) and fast-loading linked pages. The first view of a school's data is a standard HTML web page, so there is no delay for a file to open. The site design is strong and clearly intended to be user-friendly in typesetting, navigation, and use of color.

Each school's data page follows a standard template that can also be printed in a 2-page PDF file. The display also permits linking to a school's own web site for specific information. A subtle plus: links to the institution's own web site open in new browser windows, allowing exploration of those web pages while still maintaining a window for the U-CAN profile. (For the Abilene Christian University profile, I counted 22 outbound links.)

U-CAN's home page requires a lot of reading to decide where to start, but the organization gets brownie points for including the links that matter to its most youthful visitors: twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Wikipedia. I visited them all and found some charming videos on the YouTube link. Another extra, the U-CAN blog, details the history of the program.

© 2008 Mary Bold, PhD, CFLE. Email contact: bold[AT]marybold.com. The content of this blog or related web sites created by Mary Bold (www.marybold.com, www.boldproductions.com, College Intern Blog) is not under any circumstances to be regarded as legal or professional advice. Bold is the co-author of Reflections: Preparing for your Practicum or Internship, geared to college interns in the child, education, and family fields. She is a consultant and speaker on assessment, distance learning, and technology.

No comments: