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SIS Project continues through second phase

Published: Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Updated: Tuesday, October 16, 2012 08:10

The Student Information System (SIS) Project, a university-wide initiative to replace the current SIS with a new, more modern system titled Integrated Student Information System (iSIS), is proceeding on schedule and is currently in the second phase of its approximated three-year development.

As part of Phase Two of the project, titled “Development, Testing, Training and Rolling Go-Lives,” the SIS Project team is going live with parts of iSIS and holding workshops to help staff and faculty learn how to use the new system. 

“Many students will find their way through it, but for staff and faculty the interface is going to be quite different,” Martha Pokras, executive director of planning and administration and chair of the SIS Project Steering Committee, said. “We have waves of moving into the new system before training programs for people using that system.” 

The project began in July 2011, and Phase 2 officially began in February 2012. The final phase of the SIS Project is expected to begin in October 2013, which will include stabilizing and making adjustments to the final iSIS. Students can expect to register for fall 2013 classes through the new system.

In its most recent development, the SIS Project team released the first SIS User Experience Survey across all Tufts schools. 

“The survey is being administered to students, faculty and staff to get a sense of everyone’s perspective of the current SIS,” Associate Provost for Institutional Research and Evaluation Dawn Terkla, a SIS Project Steering Committee member, said. 

A total of three surveys will be released to evaluate both SIS and iSIS over the course of the next few years, according to SIS Project Communications Manager Christine Michael.

“By asking questions about current SIS, we have the opportunity to compare the user experience regardless of the specific system,” Michael told the Daily in an email. “This creates an opportunity for us to potentially optimize both iSIS and the user experience across Tufts.” 

The second survey will be sent out next fall to evaluate the early progress of iSIS, and the third survey will be sent out in fall 2014 to evaluate iSIS after it has been in use by Tufts students and faculty for a year, according to Pokras.

“We expect some things will be better, and some things will be worse,” Pokras said of next year’s survey results. “We expect some parts [of iSIS] won’t be mature.”

“Ultimately, with data collected over a three year period, we would like to compare where the student information system works for Tufts or for a school within Tufts,” Michael added.

Terkla hopes to see increased satisfaction with the new system after a year or two. 

“The reason we’re capturing data now about people’s perceptions and feelings about old SIS is so that when we go back and survey students and faculty members after they’ve had new SIS, we can look at the differences,” Terkla said.

iSIS is hosted by a software called PeopleSoft Campus Solutions, according to Pokras

“It’s robust enough to handle our complex needs at Tufts,” she said.

The university began planning for the SIS Project about four years ago, then began planning seriously about two years before starting the project last year, according to Pokras

“We were aware that it was time for a change,” she said.

Parts of the current system are 25 or 30 years old, according to the SIS Project website.

Pokras said that SIS’ planned and unplanned downtimes were a major reason for the development of the new system. He added that the old system does not work well with tablet computers and is not conducive to creating mobile apps. 

“People would come back from abroad or other universities and say our system [was much older] than other schools’ systems,” she said. 

Pokras cited the need to protect students’ information with the most up-to-date technology possible.

“We need to treat students’ information with the utmost respect,” she said.

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