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More student data visible on WebSIS

WebSIS, the Web-based student information system, has added a new capability to its automatic preregistration service, which was introduced to the MIT community earlier this month.

Using WebSIS at <>, students may now check their grades, registration status and progress toward fulfilling the general Institute requirements, as well as their student account statements, financial aid status and loan information. This information has been available online since last fall through OLSIS (the online student information system) but only through Athena, so students had to be at an on-campus Athena cluster. Now they can get their information any place they have Web access.

Since OLSIS expanded these services, use has skyrocketed, said Jagruti S. Patel, a senior in management. As part of student services reengineering, he worked closely with MIT staff in upgrading OLSIS and implementing WebSIS. OLSIS recorded 9,700 requests for grades in January, triple the number of January inquiries in each of the previous two years, she said. "Now WebSIS will make these services even more accessible."

Among other advantages, the new service means that students who leave campus right after their final exam can get their grades within days. "MIT doesn't give out student grades over the phone," Ms. Patel said. "Students would have to wait for their grade report, which the Registrar's Office mails to students' term addresses a week after all the grades are due. But since the office enters these grades into MITSIS as it receives them [MITSIS is the database that WebSIS uses], students will be able to find out their grades much sooner."

WebSIS also makes it easier for students to update their biographical information. "Students can change their term addresses or their parent/home address, and they can provide a temporary address during the summer or even if they are going to be off for a few weeks for doing research," Ms. Patel said. "In the past, students couldn't be sure that if they changed an address in one place, it would get changed in another. Now, everyone can rely on MITSIS for the most recent addresses."

MITSIS information is now downloaded into WebSIS nightly. Within a month, the system will be improved so that WebSIS changes "will be made in real time," said Robert Rippcondi, director of SIS. Other candidates for WebSIS services are online transcript ordering and loan entrance counseling, which informs students about their rights and responsibilities as loan recipients, which is required before any scholarship money can be applied to the student account. His staff will also continue to solicit input from students on their needs.

The team of programmers that built the WebSIS system are technical team leader Huey Chan (SIS), Riasa Budman (SIS), Shawn Dunn (Office of the Bursar), Brian Ellis (formerly of Admissions, now with the Publications Services Bureau), Robert Wienerman (Student Financial Aid), and Elena Zhitnikov (formerly of SIS, now with Information Systems). They were supported by the online student access team of student services reengineering Financial and Academic Service Transition (FAST): Ms. Patel (team leader), Carrie Groves (Office of the Registrar and Student Services Center), Barbara Johnson (Office of the Bursar), Andy Oakland (I/S), Ri Romano (Office of the Registrar) and Steve Turner (I/S). Their work was supported by JoAnne Stevenson (SIS), Jim Billings (SIS) and Andrea Bernard (SIS) of the automated preregistration team.

Jeffrey Schiller, network manager at I/S, created the digital certificate technology that protects the security of WebSIS personal information. WebSIS is the first system to use this advanced technology.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on May 14, 1997.

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