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Specialized Web site offers new opportunities

Katie Laird | Monday, February 7, 2005

Starting today, students will be able to log into a new specialized Web site of University information called “Inside ND,” offering students a multitude of new opportunities.

With just a single AFS sign-on, students will be able to access e-mail, grades, Web File, national newspapers like The New York Times, campus news headlines, financial services and housing contracts. The new Web-based gateway will also allow students to register, customize content channels, hold discussion boards and join groups.

Inside ND is just one part of the Renovare Project, the new University mainframe system being installed and set for completion in two years.

Larry LaTarte, the portal manager for OIT, is optimistic about the outcome of the new gateway.

“The goal of [Inside ND] is to be a Web site that students, faculty and staff can log onto and get a broad amount of information that’s all in one place,” LaTarte said.

Inside ND ran a pilot program with O’Neill students and the College of Business during winter 2004, offering students different levels of exposure to the new system. According to LaTarte, users were pleased with the system.

“The feedback has been positive,” he said. “Students seem excited.”

Included on the Web site are students groups, providing a new arena for student correspondence. For example, Inside ND’s RecSports group could help make communication among team captains and team members easier and more effective.

“It’s pushing out information to a group of people that’s more manageable,” LaTarte said.

Doug McKenna, the degree audit specialist, said the registration for summer school classes and fall classes of next year will take place via Inside ND. McKenna also said Inside ND will make class registration and class searches easier.

“It will have a powerful functionality with class searches,” he said.

The current system of class registration on Irishlink allows students to search for classes only by title and subject. With Inside ND, however, students can perform a class search by course number, title, professor, time and/or day of the week.

Another change involving registration is there will no longer be a 15-minute window for registering. Instead, students will still receive a registration appointment time, but they will now be free to make changes to their schedules through the seventh day of classes. Students will receive more information about the new registration process in March, McKenna said, but he believes it will be a positive change.

“Students will never miss their appointment time,” McKenna said. “It’s user friendly … and there are increased functionalities built in that we think students will like.”

LaTarte and McKenna both hope students will start using Inside ND right away.

“It’ll be nice if they get used to it,” said McKenna. “Any information that a student could want will be available on Inside ND.”

After Hewlett-Packard announced the discontinuation of support for the University’s mainframe in fall 2001, the University had five years to completely renovate the system. Craig Brummell, the project manager for Renovare, said the new primary vendors include support systems from SCT, and IBM is the platform the systems sit on. OIT will run those systems from here on site.

The Renovare Project has “required careful staging over a number of years,” Brummell said. The University’s financial services have been using the new mainframe system since last July and admitting offices already converted to the new system last fall. Brummell said the transition from the old mainframe system to Renovare has been going smoothly, thanks to the Renovare team of 80 to 100 people that has been working cross-campus.

“They have been really dedicated … making the transition as seamless as possible,” Brummell said. “In projects like these there are always issues. Change can be challenging … but we have not had any major bumps along the way.”

Students will be receiving advertisements and communications over the next five months with information about new updates and encouragements to log in and check out the new system.