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HUIT Team Charged with Developing Student Information System Seeks Feedback

By Meg P. Bernhard, Crimson Staff Writer

In recent weeks, a team of Harvard IT staff members tasked by the Registrar’s Office to develop the Student Information System, a new online platform for course planning and registration slated to launch for the Faculty of Arts and Sciences in the fall of 2015, has been meeting with students and faculty members to explain its vision for the system and gain feedback from future users.

According to Jason Shaffner, managing director for the Student Information Systems at Harvard, the team is working with administration, faculty, and students across the University to create the infrastructure and business model for the platform.

“We are pivoting to expand our outreach with students and faculty,” Shaffner said. “We are working on making sure the new system will meet their needs.”

The new system will integrate a number of applications—such as the study card, course planning tools, and the bill payment tool—from the website “my.harvard” into one online system designed to improve user experience and flexibility.

After launching in the FAS and the Divinity School in the fall of 2015, the SIS will roll out to the ten other Harvard schools.

Shaffner said he and those involved in the development of the SIS have focused on recruiting designers and constructing the underlying technological structure of the system since last May. Only this semester has the team begun its outreach campaign, and by next fall, its goal is to visit all of the undergraduate houses to present students with a model of the platform, which they will use to teach students about how the system will work.

“Then we might have something to show you instead of just words: ‘Here is  what access to your schedules might look like in the future, here is what the portal might look like,’” Shaffner said.

According to Dhruv P. Goyal ’16, chair of the Undergraduate Council’s Education Committee, Shaffner’s team met with his committee last week to present their plans for the project and seek feedback. Goyal said the UC will be working with the FAS’s Registrar’s Office and the implementation team to publicize the new system to undergraduate students.

“We are going to get them into dining halls, create some small task forces for different parts of the website,” Goyal said. “We are definitely going to bring the new ideas to the entire school.”

The implementation team reports to an executive team, chaired by FAS Registrar Michael P. Burke and University Chief Information Officer Anne Margulies, that is responsible for ensuring that the team is following through with its objectives.

Burke said he expects that the student and faculty feedback will be important for designing the system’s tools when the team ramps up their outreach efforts next semester.

“We will be making a much bigger push in September and show some glimpses of what the future will look like,” Shaffner said.

—Staff writer Meg P. Bernhard can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @Meg_Bernhard.

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