Online registration option replaces phone system

GW is hanging up its phone registration system.

The University is replacing phone registration with online registration starting with the spring 2000 semester, University Registrar Brian Selinsky said.

“Online registration has been around for a number of years,” Selinsky said. “It’s a lot easier, and if you do make a mistake, it’s all fixable and visible.”

GWeb will debut Sept. 13. It will allow students to register for classes. and view and change their personal information. GWeb will eventually expand to include financial aid information, as well as other features.

“We’re working on many Web-based projects to prevent people from standing in lines,” said Douglas Pearce, senior programming analyst. “There are lots of different things, and we’re trying to throw it all together and make it fun.”

Pearce is a member of the GW Web Development team, which implements changes to various GW Web sites.

To augment security for the new Web system, all student personal identification numbers will increase from four digits to six digits by adding a “99” to the end of students’ current PIN numbers, starting Sept. 13.

While the Registrar’s Office has had few instances of PIN numbers being stolen or misused in the past, Selinsky said he strongly encourages students to change their PINs when the new system begins.

“The one thing we won’t know for sure is if it is possible to lock the system up,” Selinsky said. “I have been assured that it’s a top of the line (system) and therefore will work.”

Workers with the Web Development team said they are confident of the system’s capacity.

“The Banner computer is gigantic, and it’s a critical part of the infrastructure,” Pearce said.

The Banner System, which is the location that contains student information, has been at GW for several years. The system can handle the increased amount of traffic, Pearce said.

GW students said they are excited about the added convenience. Junior Derek Grosso, a member on this summer’s Colonial Cabinet, said he is familiar with the problems of the phone registration system.

“From working on CI, I worked with a lot of students who grew very frustrated with the phone system,” Grosso said. “Everyone who I have talked to said (online registration) was a good idea.”

The new registration system will prompt students to list all the course registration numbers (CRNs) for which they wish to register. After clicking on a “submit changes” button, the next page confirms or mentions problems with registration.

In addition to offering registration confirmations, the new program will provide students with printable calendar-style schedules.

Some GW students said they will not miss the problems of the phone system.

“When that voice says the words `is closed,’ I sometimes get so mad and end up getting very frustrated,” sophomore Jon Makar said. “I’ve always been scheduling a week after classes start, so if this can help settle that, then it’s a good idea.”

“I woke up at 6 a.m., and I couldn’t get through,” sophomore Andy Thanjan said. “And when I did, the system ended up cutting me off.”

To anticipate any potential problems, the new registration system will first be tried on a smaller scale by GW’s Virginia campus.

“The system will go down at night,” Selinsky said. “However, it will run seven days a week under restricted hours.”

The current phone system does not allow Sunday registration.

Selinsky said GWeb was made possible because of the system’s readiness for the Year 2000 computer problem.

“The telephone system was not (Y2K compliant), so we bought a scaled-down phone system and adopted the online system,” Selinsky said.

Web Development plans several new features to join online registration in the future.

“We are trying to establish an enterprise system,” Web Development Team Manager Francesco deLeo said. “The idea is for all the data of the University be centralized.”

By centralizing all of the data, deLeo said it would be easier to remove information from people who have left the University. After the initial launch of the GWeb system, the system will grow to include GWeb e-mail and an online message board for official and student announcements concerning academics, study groups, general topics and Greek-letter topics.

“If there’s spam mail we can tell students not to reply, and if the president is coming, and we want to attract attention, all we have to do is post it on the board,” Pearce said.

The GWeb system also will provide a system for students to store their Web page bookmarks, in case students use more than one computer.

“Our one goal is to provide communication for all of the University,” deLeo said.

The new GWeb system will fundamentally change the way GW students use the Internet, he said.

“The Web is becoming a way of life,” Selinsky said. “(You) would probably only use the phone if you had no other option.”

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