Students may be able to check their homework assignments, pay their bills and write e-mails at a single online destination if a Yale College Council proposal to integrate the University’s various online services is adopted.
Under the plan, the Yale Webmail system and the Classes*v2, Student Information Systems and Online Course Selection servers would be combined into a single, more user-friendly site, said YCC representative Matt Blackshaw ’08, who is leading the YCC effort to push for the proposal. The site would also provide students with a calendar that keeps track of their assignments and various extracurricular activities.
The new system would reduce the hassle of organizing the different aspects of students’ Yale experiences, Blackshaw said.
“We’ve heard a lot of student concern about everything ITS-related being very fragmented,” he said. “Different professors use different Web sites to get information for classes … There is no centralized calendar for student groups.”
Blackshaw, who is from New Zealand, said friends of his who go to college at home have shown him their universities’ online resources, which are more integrated and do not require students to log into as many different Web sites in order to access important information.
“It’s far more centralized and more organized,” he said. “We have far more money to spend than the University of Auckland, for example. Given the fact that we have these resources, we can do something about improving it.”
The YCC is still in the “idea stage” of putting together the proposal and will be contacting members of the University administration and officials at Information Technology Services to talk about studying the cost and feasibility of such a system, Blackshaw said. He said the YCC will also be working with members of the Graduate Student Council while piecing together a resolution.
Chief Information Officer Philip Long said the idea of creating a single Web site from the ground up is not practical because of the large number of years it takes to build the separate systems. But he said creating a “portal” that allows access to the different existing systems through one site is possible. Creation of such a system is one of ITS’ long-term goals, Long said.
“You can’t really rewrite all the systems,” Long said. “Imagine how such a system might work with online financial information. We probably wouldn’t change the system that delivers detailed financial information to students, but we could produce a portlet that would show financial aid status or outstanding needs … You just create a common switchboard.”
ITS would like to have any new structure in place by the beginning of next academic year, Long said, but such a new system would likely have to be built in stages over time.
Wilma Bainbridge ’09 said a more integrated online organization would be helpful because it would make it easier for students to remember where to go when trying to perform various tasks.
“I really like that we have one login for everything,” she said. “But often when I’m doing something I won’t know what site I did it from — how do I access information? Do I go to SIS or YaleStation?”
If ITS implemented a new system like that proposed by the YCC, it would likely include a feature that allowed students to see when assignments and due dates for their classes had been changed or updated, Long said.