FAS Develops New Online Registration Portal

The Faculty of Arts and Sciences Registrar’s office has made headway on the development of a new online registration portal that will enable students to submit study cards online.

Since FAS Registrar Michael P. Burke proposed the new system last year, a steering committee of administrators from across the University has convened to begin planning for the fully online portal, called the Student Information System.

Burke said that the new course registration tool will be designed to create “a seamless enrollment experience for faculty and students.”

He added that paperwork will be submitted online through SIS course registration. Currently, students select courses and print out a study card using an online portal introduced in fall 2005. Students then must obtain signatures from advisors and resident deans or faculty members in special cases.

SIS will also simplify cross-registration for both students and professors as well as create a database to make information more readily available for University administrators to conduct planning and analysis.

“There’s nothing really tying us all together right now, which makes teaching across boundaries and taking classes across boundaries fairly difficult, and that’s one of the things that we’re trying to solve,” Burke said.

Although the new tool will not be operational for several years, Burke said, the steering committee could have recommendations ready for University administrators as early as next fall.

At the committee’s first meeting, top University administrators, including Provost Alan M. Garber '76, voiced their support for the project, according to Nicholas L. Connors, a spokesperson for the Harvard University Information Technology department.

The committee, which is chaired by Burke and University Chief Information Officer Anne H. Margulies, will meet once a month for the next year and a half.

The committee also plans to host focus groups for students and faculty in order to solicit feedback as they develop the tool, Burke said.

The online submission of study cards has been a perennial Undergraduate Council campaign promise. UC President Danny P. Bicknell '13 said that the development of a wholly online portal is “definitely been overdue.”

UC Education Committee Chair Samuel F. Himel '12 said he will work to ensure that administrators consider student feedback when designing the new online system.

“I think the lesson of things like [Pre-Term Planning] and the Plan of Study Tool is that the value added...by a new system really depends on how user friendly the system is,” Himel said. “If you’re going to substitute a really clunky system for the paper system, it’s not going to be a step forward.”

—Staff writer Nathalie R. Miraval can be reached at nmiraval@college.harvard.edu.

—Staff writer Rebecca D. Robbins can be reached at rrobbins@college.harvard.edu.

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