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FAST Team's Online Info System Allows Student Access to Records

By Shang-Lin Chuang
News Editor

The Online Student Information System will be ready for student use next Monday. Through the system, students can access a plethora of information that was previously available only through the Bursar's Office, the Registrar's Office, or the Student Financial Aid Office.

Students will be able to view their registration status, academic transcripts, biographical information; and financial information like student account statements, recent account activity, financial aid application status, financial aid awards, scholarship progress, and loan information.

The system was designed and implemented by the online student access team, part of student services re-engineering's financial and academic services transition team.

Before using the system, students will need to obtain a separate password on Athena.

Students have previously been able to use their Athena accounts to "get their grades, see their grade point average, and track their progress in meeting the general Institute requirements," said Jagruti S. Patel '97, leader of the online student access team. Students were also able to change off-campus addresses online.

"We have made it possible for students to download more information from the MIT Student Information System," Patel said. The MITSIS was originally designed as an administrative resource.

More services will be available online as the project progresses, Patel said. Students may be able to order transcripts, request parent billing, and fill out Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program forms online as well, she said.

Obtaining a password is easier

The online student access team was able to speed up the process involved in obtaining passwords by eliminating paperwork.

Through the old MITSIS, students needed to obtain a password that was separate and distinct from their Athena password, a process that could take up to two weeks.

Now students will be able to receive a password overnight and confirm their OLSIS password electronically. In time, the second password may be phased out.

The second password was originally required because students would often give out their Athena passwords to classmates in order to collaborate on projects over Athena.

Now the Andrew File System enables students to collaborate on Athena without sharing passwords.

The next phase of this project is to put the OLSIS on the World Wide Web and to add more capabilities, like the ability to view a full transcript, Patel said.

"The advantages of the Web are that it is easy to use, it can be used from any platform, and students can use it off-campus," Patel said.

OLSIS implements redesign ideas

The online student access team developed OLSIS to implement some recommendations made by the student services redesign team. Other groups within the FAST team are also working on implementing these recommendations.

The redesign team recommended online implementation of billing, research associate and teaching assistant appointment, contracting, fund transfer, subject enrollment, address change, certification, grade submission, and student employment.

One of the major changes the FAST team will make is the establishment of a Student Services Center, which will contain all of the relevant information and forms a typical student needs to interact with the administration, such as add/drop and financial aid forms. Pre-viously, this information was scattered throughout the Institute.

The temporary location for the pilot center will be the Satellite Registrar's Office (3-123). The center will be open by the end of November. There will temporarily be no Satellite Registrar's Office, but all of the information currently stored there will be available through the pilot center.

FAST works with the community

The FAST team, developed in April, began a large-scale effort to work with the MIT community to implement improvements over the next 12 to 18 months.

The work of the team directly affects processes in the offices of the Registrar, Bursar, Student Financial Aid, student employment, and MITSIS. Indirectly, its initiatives affect the offices of Admission, Undergraduate Education and Student Affairs, and Graduate Education, as well as academic administrators in all of the Institute's 26 academic departments and the MIT faculty.

Student services re-engineering is part of the Institute-wide re-engineering effort, which began in January 1994. From November 1995 to January 1996, the student services redesign team worked in collaboration with the MIT community to design a new approach to the delivery of MIT student services that would improve their quality, efficiency, and cost-effectiveness.

The new approach includes changes to the overall service structure as well as to the processes and technology used.