Revenge of the Student Information System

If you, as a Case Western Reserve University student, were asked which of CWRU’s websites brought the most frustration to your academics on campus, your answer would probably be the Student Information System (SIS). Plain and simple.

The current SIS website is as hard to navigate as a paper roadmap published probably around the same time as the website was. You’re going to need a magnifying glass to search through the maze of menus and tabs to find your destination.

Navigating through menus is a pain, and things aren’t at all where you would expect them to be. It quickly becomes a headache to read the small fonts that only use about half of your screen space. Considering the importance of a reliable system for student information, the current website falls quite short.

Have no fear though, because SIS is currently in the development process of an overhaul that will completely change the way the website looksits primary shortcomingalong with a slew of new features.

The new system is set to roll out this summer for first use in the coming fall semester, and I had a chance to take part in a one-on-one testing session with the website in its second of three usability testing phases.

As a part of this testing, I was able to use an early version of the system that lacked a few functions and included some new ones that are subject to change.

Most notably, the new interface brings pictures and icons on a new completely customizable home screen that makes finding what you use most extremely simple. Instead of having to navigate through walls of text, icons bring a friendlier and much more efficient way of finding what you need.

As a student, I only find myself using SIS to see my class schedule, enroll for classes and occasionally check my financial information. With the customized home screen, you’re able to choose which parts of SIS you want to access quickly.

On top of the new design, the update features an improved process for class permission requests and approvals, preferred name, pronoun and gender identity options, streamlined direct deposit enrollment for student funds and real-time account statements for students.

Overall, the upgraded SIS is a welcome update on campus for students and faculty alike and further contributes to the university’s future-proof initiative it seems to have undertaken with upgrading many different web services in recent times.

Student feedback is needed if we want to get the best out of this update. As mentioned above, I only took part in the second of three usability sessions. The third round of testing is taking place in April and if you want to participate, visit the web version of this article at the Observer’s web site to find a link to a Google form (or scan a QR code). Once you submit the form someone from the SIS Team will get in contact with you. You can also email the SIS feedback email address with the subject of “SIS Upgrade Testing.”

Jason Richards is a first-year computer engineering student. He continues to believe the Oxford comma is necessary in writing.