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Archive for Saturday, August 16, 2003

Students able to enroll online

August 16, 2003

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After years of preparations, Kansas University students can choose classes from their dorm rooms.

KU students enrolled for the first time via the Internet this spring in preparation for the fall semester just starting.

"The first round went so much better than we thought it would," said Bob Turvey, project manager for Academic Computing Services. "I wouldn't say it was perfect, but we've got the magnitude of changing the entire enrollment system behind us with very few problems."

Turvey said most universities implementing online enrollment programs had complete system failures at least once. KU managed without those problems.

However, some students with "holds" -- such as those who owed money for fines -- couldn't enroll and weren't told why. Also, some students who didn't have prerequisites needed for classes were erroneously allowed to enroll in classes.

Turvey said those problems and others were being cleared up in time for the fall, when students enroll for their spring 2004 courses.

He said response from students had been generally positive.

"I watched the e-mail we were receiving, and we had about 800 e-mails" about the online system, Turvey said. "Only 13 were really very frustrated people. The rest were just trying to figure something out."

Additional online enrollment features scheduled for the fall include computerized waiting lists for classes.

KU was the last school in the Big 12 Conference to implement online enrollment. Many universities began implementing online enrollment in the mid-1990s using Internet-based programs that interact with mainframe computers. KU opted to wait until they could implement the current PeopleSoft system, which is entirely Internet-based.

"We've been using 1970s technology since 1977," Turvey said. "This gets us up to the cutting edge. We've moved ahead of the pack in one quick jump."

KU leaders last year also moved their printed timetable of courses entirely online.

Turvey said KU plans to begin using the PeopleSoft system for distributing financial aid beginning in July 2005.

"We'll be seeing a lot of changes over the next few years," he said. "We're only scratching the surface of what this system can do."

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