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Stellar update in the works

Stellarâ„¢ 1.5, a new version of MIT's learning management system, is being readied for the fall by Academic Media Production Services. New features that were based on feedback from users of versions 1.3 and 1.4 include a utility to copy materials between Stellar sites; the pilot for a tool to manage sections within large classes; the ability to e-mail individuals or an entire class from within Stellar sites; and improved access to world-readable materials.

Stellar web sites facilitate posting of class materials without requiring knowledge of HTML and are available for free to MIT faculty and instructional staff. Sites include an integrated discussion area, secure homework submission for students, and homework management features for faculty and TAs. Class web site content is searchable, and E-Reserves from the MIT Libraries can be integrated.

Faculty use of Stellar for MIT class web sites has more than quadrupled in the last year. For more information or to request a site, go to http://stellar.mit.edu.

Barton catalog has a new look

Barton, the catalog of the MIT Libraries (http://libraries.mit.edu/barton), will offer new features through its Your Account feature. MIT faculty, students and staff can now do the following over the web: renew books, place holds on items, request stored items from the RetroSpective Collection and view account information such as fines owed, books on loan and requests pending.

Current Barton users will receive an e-mail from the MIT Libraries providing them with their ID and a temporary password for accessing Your Account. Upon receipt, users should access Your Account and change their password to one of their own choosing. Circulation staff will be able to reset a user's password if it is forgotten or misplaced.

Barton also has a simplified look that includes easier navigation and linking to specific records in the catalog, faster page-loading and URLs for online materials displayed on all results screens.

Alumni Association site revamped

The Alumni Association has redesigned its web site and changed the address. The new site at http://alum.mit.edu has a structure that's easier to follow, with prominent links to news stories; frequently visited areas such as openDOOR (the award-winning web magazine) and What Matters, a monthly alumni opinion column; and the Infinite Connection suite of alumni services (now with more than 50,000 registered users). Infinite Connection includes the alumni directory, e-mail and URL forwarding, class notes and a career assistance database.

"The previous site experienced exponential growth over the last few years. The depth and range of content was quite large and needed streamlining," said Maggy Bruzelius, director of Alumni Network Services. "The site needed to be more useable by older alumni, so for example, we support the ability of the reader to change font sizes to make the text more readable."

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on June 12, 2003.


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