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WebSIS offers more student data

MIT's on-line student information system has a new look and new features.

The redesigned WebSIS gives faculty and department administrators access to student information critical for teaching and advising. Advisors may see the academic records of their advisees, including subject registrations and grades. The site also offers the MIT community accurate and accessible information on academic opportunities and on policies and procedures.

WebSIS has been available since spring 1997 for students to access their academic and financial records and to complete transactions such as preregistering and updating address information. Building on this, the new WebSIS allows faculty and instructors on-line access to up-to-date student records.

"The goal is to provide the community with a user-friendly front end for direct, online access to student data contained in MIT's student information system," said registrar Mary Callahan, co-director of the Office of Academic Services. "It gives me great pleasure to see my office further support the educational mission of the Institute with the rollout of the new functionality at WebSIS."

In addition to class lists, instructors can request information on students who have not fulfilled prerequisites for their subjects. At the pilot stage is a function that allows faculty to access class lists that integrate students' ID photos.

Ms. Callahan noted that all online student information is available in accordance with the Institute's new Student Information Policy, which is linked to the site. The site details for students what information about them is available to department administrators, advisors and instructors.

In addition to accessing the complete history of their advisees' subjects and grades, advisors can now view current registration information, including subjects added and dropped. Prior to the term, they can view students' preregistration and class schedules.

The site's home page includes a changing series of reminders about deadlines for adding and dropping classes, the final exam schedules and graduation information, among other things. In addition, the site provides links to extensive academic and financial information.

"This is the first time some of this information has been gathered in one place," said associate registrar Connie Scribner. The new WebSIS "pulls critical information together, groups it and makes it really accessible. This is a true step forward," she said.

Professor Paul Lagace, co-director of the Leaders for Manufacturing Program, said he used the new WebSIS and "it's wonderful. This term, it was a real savior. I unfortunately had to be in Zurich on registration day for a meeting, so I had to work with students the week before. The paperwork was not yet through the system, but I was able to do everything from access through WebSIS. Giving advisors better access better serves the students, which is what this is all about."

"The online information you have made available is a real winner," said Patrick H. Winston, professor of electrical enginering and computer science. "I found it very helpful, for example, to have a look at the preregistered student list for my subject, and I look forward to using all the other services."

The team that worked on the new functionality includes programmer Jim Billings; JoAnne Stevenson, associate director of the Information Technology group in the Office of the Dean of Students and Undergraduate Education; and Ms. Callahan.

The team that worked on the more comprehensive academic information at the site as well as the redesign of WebSIS includes Mary Enterline and Jeff Meldman, associate deans of the Office of Academic Services; Ms. Scribner; Leonard Lu, administrative assistant; Jagruti Patel from Campus-Wide Information Systems; Ms. Stevenson; Cecilia Corey, formerly of Student Financial Services; and Jennifer Berk, a junior in computer science and mathematics.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on February 16, 2000.

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