MIT Faculty Newsletter  
Vol. XXIII No. 4
March / April 2011
Protecting Education in America
The Contributions of Institutions Such As
MIT to a Knowledge-Based Economy
Reinventing and Sustaining the
Faculty of the Future
Departmental Discussions of Diversity
and Inclusion
Practical Considerations for the Involvement of Graduate Students in MIT’s International Engagements
The Roadmap to the Future of MIT’s
Student Information System
Free Market Apocalypse: Safeguarding the World from Large Disasters
About DSpace@MIT
Disappointed in NRC Rankings Prominence
MIT 3rd in World University Rankings
U.S. News & World Report:
Top 10 Graduate Engineering Schools
U.S. News & World Report:
Top 10 Graduate Business Schools
Printable Version

The Roadmap to the Future of MIT’s
Student Information System

Mary Callahan and Eamon Kearns

In early fall, Information Services and Technology (IS&T), in partnership with the Offices of the Dean for Undergraduate Education (DUE), Graduate Education (ODGE), and Student Life (DSL), finalized the MIT Education Systems Roadmap, 2011-2014. The three-year Roadmap focuses on implementing high-impact projects that increase efficiency and improve the user experience within applications that make up MIT’s Student Information Systems (SIS). This includes projects that address long-standing requests from faculty and students to transform outmoded paper processes into streamlined electronic processes. Initial projects include both online grading and online registration.

Following the Roadmap

The Roadmap follows a multi-year process in which IS&T and its business partners analyzed the current Student Information Systems, gathered ongoing and new user requirements, and considered solutions for enhancement or replacement. Based on a review of the findings and an assessment of the proposed options, it was determined that the best way to move the systems forward was through incremental improvements and stabilization rather than a wholesale replacement.
Advantages to this incremental approach include:

  • Increases MIT’s ability to accommodate new and diverse business requirements
  • Allows MIT to focus on high-impact, customer-facing functionality that enhances the user experience
  • Enables incremental stabilization of the technical infrastructure
  • Assures long-term sustainability

The Education Systems Roadmap picks up on the incremental direction and moves aggressively towards our goals to modernize the systems. To enable this progress, MIT doubled our annual development investment amount in the student systems from FY10 to FY11. The Education Systems Roadmap focuses on five equally important strategic priorities:

  • Digitization to create efficiencies in business process by replacing paper with online self service and workflow review. This will modernize and streamline business processes to meet community expectations.
  • Enrich Advising Support through meaningful communications, curriculum planning tools, and context sensitive help. This will allow advisors to spend better-focused time discussing academic, personal, and career issues with students; and provide timely information to students so they are better able to steward their academic and financial records.
  • Seamless User Experiences by providing a consistent, coherent, unified view between and among processes and to information. This will streamline work, provide system integration efficiencies, and support a consistent user experience.
  • Technical Stabilization by providing standard structure and components for new and replacement software being developed by Student Information Systems that will enable a foundation for system sustainability; developing roadmaps to incrementally replace obsolete system components to reduce technology risk and support sustainability; and providing ongoing operational support for SIS.
  • Fulfill Mandated Changes by responding appropriately to address government or faculty mandated changes.

Current Projects

Based on the Roadmap timeline, development has begun on projects and applications that reflect these priorities. The core project team, with representation from the Registrar’s Office and IS&T, is utilizing the expertise of the Faculty Working Group in developing these applications. Faculty members involved include Adam Albright, Bob Berwick, John Essigmann, Steve Graves, Eric Klopfer, Paul Lagace, Haynes Miller, and Bob Redwine. An update of current projects is outlined below.

Online Grading

  • This application will allow faculty to submit end-of-term grades, grade changes, completion of incomplete/outstanding grades, and other final grades via a Web interface. An initial pilot was launched in IAP ’11, with an expanded pilot planned for spring ’11.

Online Registration

  • The goal of the project is to improve registration for students and faculty by augmenting our current registration process (such as requiring face-to-face advising) with intelligent messaging, digital signatures and electronic submission. A team is currently developing a digitized version of the paper registration form. The digitized form is due to be piloted and implemented in the 2011-2012 academic year.

Enhanced Advising Tools

  • Subsequent to the Online Registration project, academic advising will be explored in greater depth to determine if/how technology can be utilized to enhance the current advising process.

Student and Classroom scheduling system replacement

  • MIT’s current scheduling system is older and needs to be replaced. Planning for the new solution is currently underway with the implementation phase of the project targeted for FY12.

Oracle Forms replacement

  • Oracle Forms is a product that is reaching end-of-life and needs to be removed from the student system. This is a major technical stabilization effort that will span over a number of years.

The Education Systems Roadmap provides the foundation necessary to strategically enhance education systems that support faculty, students, alumni, and administrators throughout MIT.

Please see related article: “Student Systems – A Vision for the Future,” MIT Faculty Newsletter, Vol. XX No. 1.

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