The icon is decorated with the cryptic initials “KV,” and when you get past that you need a password to enter the portal. And then there’s the name. This could be a fantasy game or a fantasy world.
Inasmuch as KnightVision is a world, it is one that is both accessible and useful. For four years now Calvin’s online community has welcomed its residents via that mysterious icon on the Calvin Webpage, providing tools that expand the life of the classroom and the campus. That world is about to expand to include alumni.
Currently, students use KnightVision to stay current on class assignments, check out college news, their grades or their email and communicate with student organizations.
One feature allows them to see a gallery of student portraits from any of their classes. Another allows them to register for classes online, a phenomenon that provokes alumni to say, ‘Remember standing in line?’ said Susan Buist, the college’s alumni programs director.
Since its launch in Spring of with a pilot group of 10 faculty members, professors have used KnightVision in increasing numbers. Some profs provide assignments and discussion groups for their classes through KnightVision, while some limit themselves to personal uses like email and mailing lists.
Later this summer, KnightVision will widen its portal to allow alumni to enter. “We have had opportunities to do this before, but we chose to wait because like everything on the web here, we home grow it,” said Mike Van Denend, Calvin’s director of alumni and public relations.
Other colleges’ alumni associations have relied on commercial vendors to provide a web environment for their alumni. Calvin prefers to control the content provided in their alumni web community, protecting its users from exposure to the outside advertising that comes with a commercial site.
When the new site opens, its most prominent feature will be an online alumni directory. The directory available through KnightVision will include all alumni and be searchable in a variety of ways. Alumni will be able to search for their classmates by their current and maiden names or by their majors.
They will also be able to control how much and what type of information about themselves they allow to appear online. In addition to a standard alumni directory entry, which lists name, address, email, degree and year of graduation, alumni can list their home phone, work phone, job title and other information. “They can write up a little synopsis, tell about themselves. Or they can choose to make none of that information available,” said Chuck Hekman, systems analyst for Calvin information technology.
Privacy will be protected in this online community. “The alumni directory will be available only to the alumni,” Hekman said. They will be required to register to use the site, and security measures will be built into it.
Its creators hope that eventually the KnightVision alumni site will host prayer groups, discussion groups, groups devoted to professions and hobbies, book clubs and a career networking feature. Much of what the site will become will depend on alumni participation, Van Denend said: “For instance, for us to moderate a book club from the alumni office doesn’t seem quite practical, but for an alum who was interested in that—there are a lot of possibilities.”
— Myrna DeVries Anderson is Calvin’s staff writer.
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