New student info system to be introduced in April
By Colleen MacPherson
It’s time to get serious about SiRIUS.
As the date for implementing the University’s new online student information system approaches, it has been given a name that has close ties to many other campus initiatives, according to Lea Pennock, director of Student Information Systems. The name comes from Sirius, also known as Alpha Canis Majoris, which is the brightest star in the sky after the Sun, and part of the constellation Canis Major, the larger of Orion’s hunting dogs.
Pennock said SiRIUS links the new system to the Huskie theme, to the use of “US” in Experience US and About US, and to the image of light which “all seem very positive”. The dog-star idea also ties into the PAWS portal through which students will soon be able to access the multi-faceted program.
The initial introduction of SiRIUS will be in early April for online registration for the 2005 spring and summer term, she said.
“We wanted to try it out on a smaller session before we introduce it in late June for regular session registration.” Before that happens though, the development team will be load-testing the system, setting up mock registrations to “try to break the system” and spot any loopholes. That will ensure a headache-free introduction.
SiRIUS’s web-based registration process replaces U-Star, the touch-tone telephone registration system introduced in 1993. At that time, the telephone technology was exciting, she said, but today, “students find it tedious. It doesn’t allow them to do things like print out a list of their courses. Students are used to web-based services like banking, and they come onto campus really expecting it.”
A number of SiRIUS modules will quickly follow the April introduction date. Pennock said the system will be ready to handle submission of grades online and production of transcripts almost as soon as the spring and summer term begins. There will then be a module introduced to convert student academic histories from the old system to the new.
By the summer of 2005, SiRIUS will be part of the recruitment and admissions process for the 2006-07 academic year and “after that will come what I think is the most exciting piece,” she said. It will be a degree audit component allowing students and advisors to compare student progress against the various program requirements. It will be a “great advising tool”.
Pennock said SiRIUS puts the U of S “probably about the middle of the pack” when it comes to Canadian universities using student information systems. But in terms of access through a dedicated portal, in this case PAWS, “we’re near the front of the pack”.