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BCC opens high-tech portal
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Cutting edge technology at Barton Community College includes a portal to the website, and electronic money systems. The president’s staff described the innovations last week at the BCC Board of Trustees Study Session.

The MyBarton Portal is in the late test stages, and will evolve based on student feedback, said Charles Perkins, Dean of Information Services. A portal is by definition an entrance or point of access; on a website, it’s the front door, providing links to information and other pages. With a user name and password, a student will be able to log on to check grades, e-mail, student services, financial aid and registration. There is also a live feed to the top stories on the college’s public website,

Staff at the student newspaper, Interrobang, designed the portal’s pages in the spring semester. At their request, it includes a weather report and a calendar. Soon students will be able to try the portal and suggest changes, Perkins said. "We’ll get it out there and see what the students think."

By the spring semester a mobile version should be available. Eventually teachers and employees will also be able to use the portal, but students will always come first in the design process.

BCC Dean of Administration Mark Dean told trustees about two electronic money management services being used by the college.

The first is Nelnet Business Solutions, an e-cashier that allows students to enroll in an automatic payment plan for fees, tuition, student housing or any other money they may owe the college. "It’s been fairly popular," Dean said, noting 450 students have used the service.

By the end of this month, Barton will also use the HigherOne banking service on a limited basis. Students who are owed a refund from the college for any reason — such as a dropped course — will no longer get a check in the mail, Dean explained. Instead, they will receive a Barton Choice debit card. They will receive online instructions on how to use the card; they can choose to set up an online bank account, transfer the funds to their home bank, or ask HigherOne to mail them a check. With the bank account, they will also be able to make deposits.

The college will pay about 40 cents for each transaction, but since it will no longer be processing the checks and mailing them, "it will save us money," Dean said. In the future, the college may want to use this service for paying student employment salaries, travel expense money for staff, and perhaps all of the Barton payroll.

The Barton Choice card will have a MasterCard logo, so it can be used at certain Automatic Teller Machines without a transaction fee. The Kirkman Center at the college has a new ATM that fits that description. Dean said there is also an ATM in the Student Union, but students would pay a transaction fee to use the Barton Choice card there.