When I first came on board the then called “English as a Second Language Lab” (ESOL Lab), students were required to sign in manually the times they entered and left the lab, and it was nothing but chaos. I could not believe that in this day and age we had such an antiquated system. The first couple of semesters were so disastrous and they had developed a system whereby they would keep various folders with the names of the teachers and then they had to sign in and out using that method. There were very long lines at peak times in the lab when people would have to either sign in or out.
Keeping track of how much time was spent in the lab was also a great big hassle. Lab assistants would have to enter the information that were in these folders and then start to transfer everything to excel sheets. Just think about how much work and how inaccurate it was when we had to do our reports. I felt very frustrated, and thought that there had to be a much better way of keeping lab use records.
I did some pretty extensive research and thought well there has to be some type of software that can do the job for us. I somehow came across AccuTrack and proceeded to call Mon Nasser about the feasibility of using that software. He told me that they had a trail period of 60 days and that I could use the software for that period of time. That type of arrangement would just not work because I had to use the software for one whole semester to see if would serve our purpose, plus I could not change horses in the middle of the stream and switch to the old way of doing things. I then spoke to Mon Nasser and made my case: Let us use the software for the summer semester when there are not so many students, and if everything goes well, then I will beg, borrow, or steal the money to get the program. I had a real good feeling about the software and was willing to work hard to get it. Needless to say, the software worked perfectly and although it took some getting used to in terms of our students, we were impressed at how everything worked. Luckily at the time I was on the Technological Committee here and they approved the software for us.
We were the first lab at any of our campuses to use AccuTrack. In fact we became such experts at using it, that even the IT personnel would call me and ask questions as to how I set it up. AccuTrack has become an indispensible program for us, and now we are working to get the very latest edition of it. Because AccuTrack has proven itself to be such a time saver in doing all our reporting tasks, I believe that the IT Committee will once again approve our petition to get the latest edition of it.
Miguel A Contreras
Supervisor for the English Language Learning Center
El Paso County Community College
El Paso, Texas