The long-awaited campus wide information technology overhaul known as the Mosaic project is finally nearing completion, at least in part. In coming months, much of the behind-the-scenes computing that allows an enormous and complex institution like the UA will be updated to meet the demands of a university in the 21st century. Yesterday, the Arizona Daily Wildcat examined how this overhaul will affect UA employees. Today, we look at changes to the system that will affect students.
Students frustrated with the delays and confusion caused by Student Link may have something to look forward to when they register for classes next semester.
The main changes students can expect to see will be new software to manage room and course scheduling, said Tom Bourgeois, co-director of student administration for Mosaic.
These changes, he said, are ""not glamorous, but it's the foundation.""
Other changes will include software that manages the university's curriculum, like course changes or new courses, and providing more current information in the online catalogue.
Professors generally begin to prepare for fall classes a year in advance, so the project will implement catalogue changes now in order for them to be trained as soon as possible, Bourgeois said.
Students will not see an impact when signing up for classes this spring, but will for fall 2010, as the Web site for Student Link retains its old URL but originates from a different source, known as UAccess Student.
UAccess Student will replace Student Link, but will remain similar in the overall look and functions.
""What you do in Student Link will work in better in UAccess Student,"" said Hank Childers, Mosaic project director.
Students will still have set enrollment dates based on class standing, Bourgeois said, but the new system will include added features to make enrollment easier and more effective.
""It will do more … like save seats in classes for seniors so they can get out and manage prerequisites so (students) will be better prepared for further classes,"" he said.
Molecular and cellular biology sophomore Yuhjin Lee said she is looking forward to the changes after having difficulties registering for classes.
""There's no access or not enough seats or restricted classes for orientation purposes so students that are enrolled, sophomores, juniors, etcetera, can't sign up,"" Lee said. ""I've experienced that problem a lot this year, and hopefully the change will make that easier for us.""
The new system, known as PeopleSoft, will also allow faculty and administrators more control over which students are able to register for certain classes, Bourgeois said.
""The academic department can basically control how many seats are open to seniors, juniors, etcetera,"" he said. ""For example, maybe they only want to let 10 seniors in. PeopleSoft will allow us to do that.""
Currently there is no way for academic departments to electronically enforce prerequisites, and therefore they can't control the level of preparedness of students, Bourgeois said. The new system will allow for better control of these classes.
""If you need to take a 100 course before a 200 course, this system will allow us to give you a better chance of taking that course so you are better prepared,"" he said.
The Student Academic Progress Report will have more up-to-date information and a more visually appealing display with the new system, Bourgeois said, making it easier for students to decipher the often baffling document.
In addition, the new Student Link will remain open 24 hours a day, which should allow for faster transactions.
Everyone on campus, from students to administrators, will be assigned a new eight-digit identification number compatible with PeopleSoft software.
Overall, Mosaic officials said, the new system is designed to provide a simpler, more efficient framework for the computing power on campus.
""Part of what Mosaic is about is being able to better connect to different systems,"" Childers said. ""Mosaic is all these different pieces that fit together to make a whole.""