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Beta registration system brings speed and simplicity to process

For the fall 2016 registration cycle, a pilot group of 88 students were given the opportunity to choose their classes using an updated interface, Banner, that Registrar Jayne Niemi calls “more modern and easier to navigate.”

Students in the pilot group have given the Registrar’s Office largely positive feedback on the new system, which features calendar and planning features the current system does not.

“I generally prefer the new system to the old. It tells me when a class is full and whether there is a time conflict before I add it,” Ellis Davenport ’18 said. “It also gives me a model of what my day would look like, similar to the format of Google Calendar.”

Davenport is one of 34 students in the test group who had registered with the new interface as of Tuesday. Another, Roland Munsil ’19, also had positive things to say about the updated Banner system, and particularly liked its planning feature, which allows students to choose a set of classes beforehand and register for them all at once.

“A plan … streamlines the process of registering immensely,” Munsil said. “I created a plan a few days before registration, and when my time came up I just selected the plan, hit ‘register,’ and I was done. It took like 15 seconds total to register.”

Niemi said her office has received a lot of positive support from other students in the test group, who generally view the new interface as faster and more user-friendly.

The trial interface is an updated version of the current Ellucian Banner registration interface. Banner is a broad, integrated system that supports many other operations at Macalester, including Employment Services and Financial Aid. The update to Banner’s registration interface has been in the works at the Ellucian software company for several years.

The new registration interface has especially been on Niemi’s radar since 2012, when a student employee in the Registrar’s Office took part in a user-interface test group of the system at the University of Minnesota.

Following this test group, work began in both the Registrar’s Office and ITS to incorporate the updated registration interface into Macalester’s overall Banner system, according to Niemi.

“[About four years ago] the work started behind the scenes to ready the overall system, and then there was set-up and testing in our office,” Niemi said. “We were really excited to offer the new interface to a small pilot group for this registration.”

Niemi credited the implementation of this project to many within ITS and her own office, including Assistant Registrar Addy Free, whom Niemi called “instrumental” in moving the project forward.

Students like Davenport, while remaining positive overall, provided a few critical remarks about the program.

“It could use a few tweaks on the visual side, such as the size of certain windows on the page,” Davenport said. “But apart from that, it was a lot better [than the old system], both in terms of visualization and convenience.”

Niemi hopes that all students will be able to use the new interface by the fall Add/Drop period.

April 29, 2016

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