MIT Faculty Newsletter  
Vol. XX No. 1
September / October 2007
20th Anniversary of FNL:
A Brief History of its Founding
Faculty Representation? How?
Newsletter Most Popular Among MIT Faculty
Transparency and Communication
A Call for Nominations to the
Newsletter Editorial Board
Hockfield to Write on "State of the Institute"
in Next Newsletter
Teaching this fall? You should know . . .
America's Infrastructure
Engineering Dilemma
Is it Time for a New Manhattan Project?
Update on the Implementation of the Recommendations of the Task Force on the Undergraduate Educational Commons
Experimental Project-Based Subjects:
A Hit With Students
Faculty Calendar
Student Systems – A Vision for the Future
MIT 1st in Engineering, 7th Overall
in Latest U.S. News Ranking
Combining Investment with Philanthropy: Faculty and the MIT Endowment
Proficiency in Customary Units
Who's Who in the MIT Administration
Campus Population in Representative Years: % Change and Absolute Numbers
Printable Version

Student Systems – A Vision for the Future

Larry Benedict, Jerry Grochow, Dan Hastings, Steve Lerman

With a push for more international experiences, a desire for increased advisor/student interaction, updated GIRs, and changing student expectations, how will MIT’s student information systems support an ever changing landscape while still supporting everything we currently do? What are the requirements of a system that ensures a stable yet flexible platform to support our current needs and services and, at the same time, is sufficiently forward looking to make certain future innovations can be incorporated? These are the types of questions we will answer as part of an exciting project to develop a vision and strategy for the future of student systems at MIT.

The Student System Vision (SSV) study is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to assess the evolving needs of the community and improve the student experience.

This collaborative project is being sponsored by Dan Hastings, the Dean for Undergraduate Education; Steve Lerman, the Dean for Graduate Students; Larry Benedict, the Dean for Student Life; and Jerry Grochow, the Vice President for Information Services and Technology.

MIT’s student information system is a large and complex set of applications (often referred to as MITSIS and WebSIS) supporting our students’ administrative life cycles starting with their admissions application and following them through their entire MIT experience. Faculty depend on the student system to help them in advising students, by providing online access to their advisees’ current registration, grades, and GIR audit report. Instructors use the student system for class lists, student pictures, and prerequisite reports.

Today's students have grown up in a world where information and services are available at any hour of the day or night via the Internet. The expectation, shared by students, faculty, and staff is that MIT will provide services to support administrative, classroom, and informational needs through state-of-the-art Internet-based services that ensure the protection of student privacy. The various student applications now in use were developed over a period of years, without a consistent architecture or user interface; they lack the flexibility to add new functionality in a consistent, well-planned fashion. Many of the core applications were developed prior to the popular use of the Internet and are implemented using outdated, inflexible technologies. The original system focus was for administrative office use. In order to meet the expectations of today’s students and faculty, a more student- and faculty-centric design approach is needed.

Understanding the needs of all of the constituents who work with student systems is of the utmost importance and requires Institute-wide collaboration. Throughout this study, the SSV Project Team will host workshops, meetings, focus groups, and presentations that involve faculty, staff, and students from across the Institute. These activities will tap into MIT’s collective intelligence to ensure that the long-term vision and not just the immediate needs are fully understood. An SSV Faculty Advisory Group with participation from MIT’s Council on Educational Technology will inform this effort, and an outside consulting firm has been engaged to facilitate the overall process. We want to ensure that the recommendations coming out of the study represent a broadly-based evaluation of where MIT would like to be – a true “vision” of student systems in the future.

In the spring of 2008, the SSV team will present its findings along with a plan for implementing this next- generation of MIT’s student system. Although the study will be completed in a relatively short time, the implementation will likely span many years. Ultimately, the new Student System will provide the community with the tools that evolve to support MIT student services effectively for years to come. To learn more about the Student System Vision Study, please visit the project Website at

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