To thrive in today’s digital world, you need to move past inflexible legacy systems. A modern and intuitive framework yields big benefits for Michigan colleges.
Building a modern web application with complex structures and functionalities can be a difficult task, even for the most experienced development teams. Customizing the application for an organization’s needs takes a lot of time and effort, and can be expensive. Tight deadlines further complicate the process.
At the same time, development teams building a web application must create a visually stunning experience and interface for the end-user. In addition to looking good, it needs to fully utilize the backend logic and requirements of the application.
The education industry is facing the same issues as they seek to upgrade their existing digital systems. Educational institutions, such as schools, colleges and universities, have been actively trying to modernize their operations over the past decade. For some, the process is slow and bothersome—even just trying to organize large amounts of data into a single repository.
Others have quickly adopted to the new technologies and have managed to build up truly spectacular applications for both their students and administration. Having the right technology behind you can make a huge difference.
Michigan Colleges Online (MCO) is an initiative of the Michigan Community College Association and the 28 Michigan community colleges. MCO provides a consolidated listing of all online courses from the 28 members into a single webpage, where students can enroll and complete courses from a large pool of external institutions, while still maintaining their status at their home college.
Back in 2013, the Association sought to create a three-tiered web service to support registration, administration and data services. They required an intuitive interface, which felt more like an application than a webpage, where students could easily digest the data all wrapped into a beautiful UI. Randy Melton, CTO of MCCA, commented, "We needed a robust set of widgets so we wouldn’t have to reinvent the wheel. The legacy interfaces were clunky."
Another crucial element of the application was creating complex registration workflows between up to three colleges. "We have to manage the business rules around different commissions, academic standings, financial aid and other factors," said Melton.
Melton's team was no stranger to Kendo UI by Progress, and after a search it felt like the best choice for their needs. “We looked at several solutions, but nothing really stood out except the grid features of Kendo UI framework.” The Kendo UI Grid was suited for their requirements at the time of development, and also future-proofed the application with the framework's flexibility for mobile development. On top of that, it was able to present data in a user friendly way and connect with the backend systems of MCO effectively and efficiently.
In Melton's words, it was the complete end-to-end success data model of Kendo UI that cemented their decision to go with Kendo UI. “We started by using the Kendo UI Grid to model our business problem, including workflows and a registration sequence model, then made it extendible,” he said. The high adaptability of Kendo UI controls to different frameworks facilitated the incorporation of open-source solutions, and Melton praised the rich interface and the ability to export to Excel.
With the Kendo UI framework, the MCCA development team was able to complete the site in less than nine months. It was used by over 180 administrators and contacts on top of thousands of students.
According to Melton, the Kendo UI controls brought three key benefits for Michigan Colleges Online: a great user experience, fast development and high-quality defect management. Last, but not least, the performance of the site was faster and more reliable than that of any legacy system. In his closing words the CTO of MCCA said, “We had to build a data model that allowed agility for managing processes without being too stringent. With Kendo UI controls, we were able to create a robust, reliable user experience quickly; it has a logical framework for working with data and saves you time by simplifying data source connectivity.”
Dobrin is a Product Marketing Manager for the Desktop UI suites at Progress. He is passionate about trends and innovations in desktop application development, UI and UX. In his leisure time, Dobrin enjoys doing gymnastics, skiing, playing guitar and traveling the world. You can follow him on Twitter or get in touch through LinkedIn.
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