Frequently Asked Questions

How is Program Pathways Mapper (PPM) different from a traditional eduacation planner? Why do I need both?

PPM is a great tool for exploration and outreach because it does not require a login. In contrast, an education plan requires access to a large amount of protected student information. PPM is designed for prospective students and offers information about programs and courses along with relevant labor market data and transfer options. Current students benefit, too, as they are empowered with just-in-time guidance on course options that they can access on-demand during peak registration times.Transfer students can also access detailed course information on the upper division coursework they will be taking after transferring.

Will PPM work with my existing systems? (e.g., registration, SIS, ed planner, etc.)

PPM is designed to work alongside common on campus systems such as an SIS or ed planner. PPM facilitates easy integrations with online catalogs. Currently, eLumen and Curriqunet/Meta have integrations in place.

PPM does not require access to any protected student data, so integration with student information systems (SIS) is not necessary. Those institutions that have implemented the program mapper often find that counselors and advisors use the maps in the program mapper to help students develop their own personalized education plans. By connecting students directly to the appropriate systems, PPM's "call to action" buttons enable institutions to encourage students to make an appointment or to apply.

Other systems (like EduNav) can integrate campus data sources like course schedules and individual student records to create real-time plans that can reflect changes. Can PPM do that?

Prospective and current students use PPM to visualize their journey through a course of study, as well as to understand potential outcomes like employment opportunities and transfer opportunities. It is not intended to replace a campus’ education planner and does not duplicate those functions.

Who is PPM designed for? Is that different from other software systems?

PPM is designed for prospective and current students, faculty, staff, administration, higher education partners, and industry. Because the PPM system doesn't require any personally identifiable information from the viewer, maps aren't locked behind a password, nor do institutions have to pay a per-user fee for accessing the maps. Information about transfer and career options are readily available for anyone to see once they are published.

What data sources does Program Mapper draw from?

PPM uses the local curriculum data provided by the school. For California community colleges, the local curriculum data is merged with curriculum data from the Chancellor’s Office Curriculum Inventory (COCI) to create a clean golden record or canonical data set. Curriculum and learning outcomes are extracted from their official campus repositories and loaded into the program mapper via a template upload process.

How much time will it take my campus to get on the program mapper? Will it increase advisor workloads?

The onboarding process takes approximately four to six months to complete. Feedback from advisors and counselors indicates that the program mapper is helpful in making common tasks such as setting up an initial education plan more efficient, allowing more time for additional, meaningful conversations with students.

How much IT support is there for Program Mapper? Will this strain our IT resources?

PPM is hosted by Concentric Sky, Inc. on AWS servers so there is no strain on local IT resources. The only engagement with your IT team is to set up the final “vanity” website address, a simple task taking less than an hour. For the IT folks out there, this means creating and maintaining a CNAME record.

How can Program Mapper support the work of Guided Pathways?

The Program Mapper addresses the first three pillars to the Guided Pathways framework: Clarify the Path; Get Students on the Path; Keep Students on the Path. It’s primary function is to clarify the path by supporting faculty, counselor, and advisor work in developing and sharing clear, specific, and valid program pathways. These program maps then assist students and advisors to help get students on a path.

Once students are taking courses, the program pathways mapper’s data can be leveraged to provide additional insights regarding how well students are staying on the path (Pillar III).

Can Guided Pathways money be used for my campus implementation?

Many California Community Colleges have used Guided Pathways money to implement the PPM at their college.

What evidence do you have that Program Mapper will help students attain degrees / have better time to degree than existing systems?

Since the PPM launched at its first college in 2019, collecting data to evaluate impact has been a priority. While longitudinal data on completion and transfer are currently still being collected, we have seen very promising results in terms of increased focus and efficiency in student course-taking, with on-path percentage increasing from 63% to 78%. At the same time, equity gaps in on-path percentage were completely eliminated. This is an astounding outcome for a technology tool. The ease of access and intuitive design allows the program maps to serve as a just-in-time safety net of sorts for students who are needing to make last-minute adjustments to their course enrollments, allowing them to make smart decisions very quickly.

Will Program Mapper help my students from community colleges transfer? Will Program Mapper be useful after students have transferred?

PPM can assist prospective and current students with transfer goals by providing program transfer course sequences. Selecting different transfer destinations will allow students to visualize the specific courses required for a smooth transfer to the desired destination with the appropriate lower division course work in place.

Where does the career data come from? Is it regional, statewide, or national?

The career data comes from the Bureau of Labor Statistics state level data. The labor market information is connected to specific programs via a crosswalk based on program codes (TOP or CIP) which have been matched with the Standard Occupational Codes (SOC). For other institutions the data comes from the CIP ( Classification of Instructional Programs ) code which has been matched to the SOC code for California.

If my college/campus maps to other colleges/campuses in my region, do I have to map to others statewide?

Colleges are able to link with as many or as few other campuses as they wish.

How can PPM be used to support Early College (dual and concurrent enrollment) opportunities?

PPM is being used with dual and concurrent enrollment students. The ease of access makes the PPM useful in a variety of settings, including high school campuses. Providing high quality information about community college programs, contextualized by video clips, information about related jobs, and the types of learning and skills that each program offers, PPM is an effective way for concurrent and dual education students to plan for and enroll in college courses.. Maps that are specific to Early College students, for example maps that show a four-year sequence to completion, can be included as a map choice or option, as desired.