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Athena to add schedule info

By Joanna Stone

Soon MIT students will be able to choose their classes and plan out their schedules without ever having to leave their Athena terminals. It's part of a new project called TechInfo run by Network Services.

As part of the TechInfo project, the course description guide, class schedules and the academic calendar will soon be officially available electronically, as will many other pieces of useful information, such as the weather, restaurant information, MIT policies and regulations, the contents of the current issue of Tech Talk, library information, and job listings, according to Carla J. Fermann '87, Project Athena on-line consulting manager.

The project was started about a year ago in response to the lack of information available electronically. "We realized there was no electronic public access available on campus," said Scott Thorne, analyst programmer for Network Services and one of the developers of InfoTech. "We wanted to make one spot that people from any workstation could access."

Network Services chose what information to initially put in TechInfo based on the results of a student poll. "What's out there [available in TechInfo] now is just the beginning. We're trying to get as much feedback as possible during these initial stages" so that we can decide what sort of information to add and what, if anything, to drop, said Thorne.

Although TechInfo will not be fully released until later this spring, Network Services has been Beta testing it since the end of January. That means that MIT students can currently access the project by attaching to TechInfo and then typing, "/mit/techinfo/techinfo".

Course Information and Schedules for the summer and fall terms are not available yet, but will be released by the Registrar's Office soon. Joanne Stevenson, an analyst programmer for the Registrar's Office, is not certain whether having the information available to students electronically will ease the workload for the Registrar's Office.

"That was certainly not our intent," said Stevenson. "Our only intent has been to make registration information more readily available to the students." Stevenson remarked that they'll just have to wait and see if having the registration information on-line will reap any additional benefits.

Currently, spring exam schedules and information on not-for-credit summer courses can be accessed through TechInfo. The Registrar's Office will put out the same number of copies of course catalogues and class schedules this term as they have in previous terms, despite having the information available electronically.

TechInfo is purely an information source, there are no plans for interaction with it. So the Athena user will have to leave the terminal to register.