Consortium Spotlight

The Ontario College Council of Chief Information Officers (OCCCIO) is a collaboration of 24 community colleges within Ontario, Canada. Their mission as a group is to enhance their members’ ability to strategically and effectively lead information technology through support. The group has a very clear mandate which involves collaboration, professional development, advocacy, and encouragement and support of best practices. 

Here at AppsAnywhere, we’ve had the pleasure of working with the OCCCIO Consortium for a number of years.

Colleges Included

La Cite
St. Lawrence

The OCCCIO's AppsAnywhere Journey

A Member Run Organization

The OCCCIO is a member-run organization with St Lawrence College’s CIO Lisa Grothier as the most recent Chair.  

"I had the pleasure of chairing the OCCCIO for about five years, when I joined the college 11 years ago, I think I was the only female CIO in the group, and it was so welcoming! St Lawrence and the OCCCIO are absolute pleasures and definitely highlights of my career." - St. Lawrence

One of the many benefits of the OCCCIO is that members help each other regularly to exchange best practices. The organization meets twice a year at a school-hosted conference to showcase their latest procedures, policies, and new tech. In fact, all our OCCCIO customers heard about us through each other, often at an event in which the hosting school demonstrated AppsAnywhere alongside a member of our team.

"When we all saw what the power of this software was, five or six of us talked and decided to put our money where our mouths were and bought the software together. I think that was the first semblance of a consortium." - Niagara College

Download the OCCCIO White Paper

Financial Benefits 

Being public sector organizations, colleges would typically have to go through the lengthy Request for Proposal (RFP) procedure. However, as a consortium, they benefitted from the agreed-upon framework meaning a pre-agreed price. This was ideal for Fanshawe College who have a remarkably open relationship with their students regarding how their fees are used.  

Once AppsAnywhere was in placethey could ensure that it was working the way they wanted thanks to thebuilt-inanalytics feature.

Fanshawe used this feature not only to track the progress of their investmentbut also tobuild upon thisopen relationship by delivering the information directly to students.

“We want to deliver the results to them and it's not enough just to say we think it worked well. We want to be able to say "This many packages were used by this many unique students" and so on. It simply gives us great information to affirm that we're heading in the right direction." - Fanshawe College

Shared Workload

The collaboration between colleges doesn’t stop once the conferences are over or deals are signed, these colleges are dedicated to working together for the long term.

“We have very big colleges, and we have very small colleges who struggle to scrape together the solutions much less the staff and resources required to do. So, there's a real recognition amongst the OCCCIO that we’re here to help each other. If the bigger colleges can share some of the heavy lifting it allows the smaller colleges to provide similar services.” – St. Lawrence

An example of this is how Durham College implemented AppsAnywhere to combat the COVID-19 pandemic. A great deal of colleges around the world were reactive to COVID-19, meaning that their students missed out when the pandemic first hit. However, being part of the OCCCIO meant that Durham could hit the ground running as a lot of pre-implementation work had already been done.

“When COVID struck, there was a decision that almost all teaching was going to happen offsite, and obviously there was a need to make software accessible to students remotely. The OCCCIO is a very collaborative group, so we learned from the other colleges and collaborated on this project.” - Durham College

It’s a similar story with Sault College who worked alongside Georgian college to get AppsAnywhere up and running. 

“In the OCCCIO there are some very large Southern Ontario colleges and us small little northern colleges. But there is no separation when we sit at the table. Everybody works towards common goals, supporting one another. We would have never survived in the last year and a half if we didn't have AppsAnywhere. We would have failed miserably during the pandemic to be quite honest. It was just a real-life saver.” - Sault College

Download the OCCCIO White Paper

Collaborative learning 

Every college around the world has its own unique challenges and targets which is the same for their IT departments. Within the OCCCIO there were a number of challenges which they wanted to overcome using AppsAnywhere such as BYOD, remote learning, and digital equity among others.

“I think all the CIOs would say it's just been a success, not just from a financial perspective but truly from a collaborative learning, training, and support perspective." - St. Lawrence

Like everything else within the consortium, facing these challenges was a collaborative effort with colleges helping one another. One key challenge that many faced was that there is no silver bullet when it comes to software delivery. This is a problem seen regularly in higher education due to the rise of BYOD and the sheer number of applications needed across all faculties.

Instead, the answer is what we like to call a Digital Toolkit. This means that AppsAnywhere is one of several tools in their kit which provides them with the unique solution they are looking for.

Sault College is one example, in their own words once AppsAnywhere was implemented the pieces of the puzzle fell into place, which is rather fitting as AppsAnywhere isn’t the only piece of their puzzle.

"AppsAnywhere is our largest and most important tool, but it is not our only tool in the toolkit. However, as time continues, the product improves! That's something that I see as a huge benefit as we continue to find reasons to need something different, the AppsAnywhere team find reasons to fit it in there." - Sault College

Niagara College also created a digital toolkit by configuring AppsAnywhere to open on their student’s computers but with a custom-built VPN in place, meaning they could use a shared database as well.

"Whenever anyone came up with a really cool way to package something, we published the package and shared the documentation on how we built the package. It wasn't just the desktop people. We were having the networking and security and infrastructure groups participate in that collaboration also." - Niagara College

Download the OCCCIO White Paper

Positive Outcomes

All our OCCCIO customers have had excellent outcomes since partnering with us. One particular outcome to note is the impact it has had on the student experience due to the increased flexibility.

“Just giving them access especially the anytime in anywhere piece really allows students to do it on their schedule. Not all students are the same. You have some who arecoming in asa second careerandhave families at home. They can't necessarily always make itinwhen they need to. So, this gives themthe flexibilitytoaccess the toolsto do their workand manage that within their own particular schedule. So, you know, I've heard nothing but great things!” - Loyalist College

Happy students result in better grades and higher student enrolment, which has been clearly seen at Sault College. According to an article in Soo Today, Sault College recorded that fall enrolment for the 2021 academic year has jumped by more than 50% when compared to last year. This was also seen at Seneca College as they witnessed an enrolment increase during the pandemic, a fact they firmly connect with their efforts to provide students with the digital equity they deserve.

The pandemic itself has greatly impacted both the student experience and also the colleges as a whole, however, with AppsAnywhere the OCCCIO colleges were fully prepared.

“AppsAnywhere enabled us to thrive as a College despite the challenges of COVID-19.  As a College of Applied Arts and Technology, software plays a critical role in the academic success of our students.  AppsAnywhere allowed us to deliver software anywhere in the world, enabling our students to continue their education while remaining distanced from our campuses for their safety.  In addition to our students’ success, the College remained in a fiscally healthy state which positions us well as we begin to emerge from COVID-19 restrictions.” - Fanshawe College

It’s not just students who are happy but faculty and staff also. Faculty at La Cite College appreciated the ease of the portal not only for access to specific apps but also as a communication tool. For example, if a teacher wanted their students to download something, instead of disjointed communication they can simply inform the class that the link is hosted within the portal.

“Teachers really do like that we're able to put the exact version that they want for their course on the portal. So that's been very helpful, all they have to do is tell their students to log on, click this, install and go.” - La Cité

Meanwhile, at Seneca College, AppsAnywhere has reduced the workload for the IT department resulting in increased productivity and resources.

“Previously we had anywhere from 100 to 200 applications installed locally on our machines and so, our images were quite bloated. You’re taking anywhere from three to five hours just to prepare a single machine. Now with AppsAnywhere, we’re able to imagine a lab in half an hour in, because we reduce the amount of software that's installed locally!” - Seneca College

An Ongoing Partnership

The OCCCIO was established to further the strategic and operational goals and objectives of Chief Information Officers and IT leaders. During our partnership we have seen incredible growth throughout the organization, as well as remarkable resilience during the pandemic.

"I think both at the college and at the consortium level, the support and the relationship with AppsAnywhere has been tremendous and everybody notices that because that is not the experience with a lot of vendors.” - St. Lawrence

In the coming year, the OCCCIO will be ready to welcome a new Chair, as Lisa has now retired. We look forward to seeing who takes over from Lisa and continuing our partnership with the OCCCIO for many years to come.

AppsAnywhere x OCCCIO

OCCCIO Colleges

Customer Spotlight - Fanshawe College

Customer Spotlight - Fanshawe College

Fanshawe College is a public college in Southwestern Ontario, Canada. As one of the largest colleges in Canada, Fanshawe has approximately 43,000 students and…

Customer Spotlight - Niagara College

Customer Spotlight - Niagara College

Any app, any device, anywhere, anytime. Our application delivery and virtualization solution improves the student experience on and off campus for Higher Ed and universities worldwide.

Customer Spotlight - Sault College

Customer Spotlight - Sault College

SC has grown dramatically since it was recognized as a College of Applied Arts & Technology in 1967. It currently offers more than 150...

Customer Spotlight - Seneca College

Customer Spotlight - Seneca College

Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology is one of Canada's leading colleges. They are passionate about delivering innovative education that combines...

Customer Spotlight - Loyalist College

Customer Spotlight - Loyalist College

Loyalist College (LC) situated in the city of Belleville east of Toronto has around 3,000 full-time students and approximately 12,000 part-time enrolled in...

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