Breakout Session

I Walk The “Online”

Track: Managing Mobility

Johnny Cash may have walked the line, but at Brookdale Community College we walk the “online”. In this session, the presenters will share information about the full-service online advising model offered at Brookdale Community College. The history and timeline of this project will be shared, and participants will be enlightened about some of the pitfalls of implementing such a model at their home institutions. Additionally, participants will be given a demonstration of Adobe Connect, as well as a demonstration the e-tools that were developed for this project. Come and walk the online with us.


Marlena Frank
Student Development Specialist
Brookdale Community College

In 2004, Marlena Frank earned her Master of Science degree in Counseling Psychology from Northeastern University. Marlena currently works in the Counseling Department where she provides academic, transfer, career and personal counseling to the general population of students. She also enjoys working closely with students registered through the Office of Disability Services and student athletes. Marlena created, and is currently Chairing, the Online Advising Committee in the Counseling Department. This committee is responsible for promoting online contact with students by way of social media sites, a blog page and an updated department website. Most recently, the committee created an Interactive Distance Counseling Model and has initiated the process of counseling students online via Adobe Connect, a web conferencing software.


Linda Bernabeu
Technical Trainer
Brookdale Community College

Linda provides training and support to staff and faculty in the use and implementation administrative applications.  She is responsible for designing, developing and implementing training materials based on staff and faculty needs. Linda also serves as the Brookdale Community College Portal Administrator and works closely with administrative and academic departments in creating, managing and maintaining portal communities.


Cathleen Goode
Professor of Student Development
Brookdale Community College

Cathleen Goode has been serving students in the Counseling & Advising Division since 1988 and has received numerous honors for that service, including the Counselor of the Year (1998) from the New Jersey Community College Counselors Association.  Cathy has also been an adjunct professor in the Sociology department, teaching Intercultural Communication: The Person and the Process (SOCI 105), since 1999.


Presentation Content:

Summary Statement:  The presenters will demonstrate how they have developed an effective, productive and informative On-line Advising and Counseling process to support students at remote sites and off campus.

Description of activity, project, or solution:  The Brookdale Community College mission statement states that the “College will provide affordable, open access for all individuals to a wide variety of high-quality associate degree and certificate programs. Brookdale Community College is committed to opportunity with excellence, opportunity with accessibility, and opportunity with appropriate support, to enable success”.  The primary purpose of counseling is to aid students in making decisions related to their future career, academic or educational, and personal or social needs. Brookdale Community College believes that online counseling supports and enhances the mission of the college, as well as provide flexible advising and counseling opportunities to our diverse student population. The on-line counseling enables counselors to meet with students at remote locations and at off hours.

The Adobe Connect Online Counseling program was piloted this year at Brookdale Community College. The project committee consisted of key stakeholders from various departments: the Director, Advisement & Counseling Services, Director-Student Development Services, Executive Director of Information Technology Services, Director-Educational Services Operations, a Staff Technical Trainer and Instructional Designer, as well of several counselors and advisors.

The goal of the project was to provide a relatively low cost viable, flexible, reliable, functional, end user friendly format to support online counseling and advising.  After reviewing various platforms such as Skype, Illuminate and Adobe, the committee selected Adobe Connect for the pilot project.  The technology investment was minimal. Standard computer equipment with microphone and speakers with an Internet connection and a web browser for both the counselor and the student provides the basic setup for web-based counseling.  Counselors have video capability, so that students can see who they are meeting with.  The user interface is intuitive and the platform allows the counselors to share screens, applications, documents and upload files with the students during the meeting.

Outcome:  Through the online counseling format, counselors are able provide the same type and level of service that is conducted in a traditional face-to face sessions. Records of what has transpired are available for a permanent record. The student or counselor can review what has been written before or after the session was conducted. Counselors have the ability to counselor students at remote locations while on our main campus. This is particularly useful for advising and counseling students who cannot make regularly scheduled appointments on the main campus due to transportation, work, or personal issues.  Counselors are still able to provide opportunity for accessibility and appropriate support to enable academic success.

Importance or relevance to other institutions:  The challenges in implementing and launching the program were to be expected. Counselors needed to receive training in using the application and feel comfortable with the technology. We had to ensure that our equipment on the main campus and at remote sites could support the platform.  Some technical clichés were encounter with audio features, but those were easily fixed. We had to devise a work flow and scheduling process for students to register for an on-line session.

Our Technical Trainer provided the training to the five counseling who would be conducting the online sessions.  These sessions were held during the fall semester and the testing at remotes sites was done during the winter.  The first on-line sessions were held early spring.   The counselors were at our main campus and the students were walk-ins at remote sites.  Moving forward, we are working on an on-line registration process that will provide students the capability of scheduling the appointment on-line. We are looking to our portal as a solution for handing and processing the registration


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