divide? Not any more, at least on registration days at Queensborough
Community College, where the concept of e-registration has just
Queensborough thus becomes the first City University campus to offer
on-line, Web-based registration for students a new system that also
includes electronic options for ordering transcripts, applying for
graduation, paying tuition by credit card and more. Students have
the additional choice of registering for classes by telephone, though
the majority of them have responded eagerly to the web method.
I think this is one giant leap into the future, said Julian Gordon,
President of the QCC Student Government. My life, along with that
of many other students, has been made that much easier. I now have
the opportunity to stay in the convenience of my own home and register
for classes without having to stress over the many long lines I
would have encountered at the registration arena.
After seven months of planning, efforts to automate QCCs system
culminated with the successful registration of some 10,000 students
for the spring, 2001 semester. The original plan for a telephone
and Web system, however, was first developed at Queens College,
along with Frank Solutions Inc. (FSI), a Denver-based company specializing
in telephone and Web applications for businesses and government
Queens invited us to participate in the contract and, after looking
at the proposal and speaking with FSI representatives, we concluded
that the system would not only benefit our students, but allow us
to redirect registration resources to other areas of the College
Having decided to purchase the system, the contractual details were
put in order, and we undertook the project with the goal of completing
it in time for our Spring 2001 registration.
Our first order of business was to set up a time frame for all the
different parts of the project and to determine when each phase
had to be completed. This was accomplished using two detailed sets
of specifications supplied by FSI, which described the systems logic,
the computer and telecommunications equipment, and the scripts the
system would use to communicate with our students. The specifications
provided the blueprint that guided us through the development of
Next, a plan for working with the staff from FSI was devised and,
while they were 2000 miles and two time zones away, we found having
bi-weekly conference calls and exchanging information via e-mail
and faxes met all our needs.
To move the project along quickly, we limited QCCs team to three
people, deciding that the expertise of others would be solicited
as the project developed. The real work began by breaking down our
registration process into its simplest parts and then comparing
them to the logic in the FSI specifications. We used flowcharts
extensively during this phase to account for every part of our registration
process and revised the FSI logic to conform to our needs.
Next, we tackled the scripts, many of which were already in place
because of work done for Queens College. However, we spent a substantial
amount of time modifying the scripts to include terms that our students
would be familiar with. We focused on how instructions were explained
so that they were clear and easy to understand.
FSI handled computer equipment set-up, but we were responsible for
installing a T-1 telephone line, which was accomplished under the
supervision of our CUNY colleagues knowledgeable in this area. When
all these pieces were completed, we entered a testing phase in which
we attempted to make the system fail in order to identify potential
problems. Aside from a few minor glitches, we were satisfied with
the results. Throughout this process, the staff from FSI listened
to our input and willingly made modifications we felt were necessary.
While it is too early to calculate precise cost savings, we do know
that we are spending less in staffing and are using fewer on-campus
resources for registration. The Student Union Building, a facility
previously used for this purpose, may now be used during these periods
for academic advisement and counseling. Workload also has been reduced,
as we no longer have to wire the facility, transport computer terminals,
or set up stanchions, ropes and signs. Furthermore, we have no need
for registration cards and program change forms, as this information
is now automated and held in a database.
Our campaign to educate the college community about the web and
telephone registration system started early and continued throughout
the project. Articles were printed in every edition of the college
newspaper, posters were hung around the campus, and information
and instructions were printed in the Schedule of Classes and mailed
to students homes.
While our goal was to have students register off campus by using
their computers or telephones at home, we also wanted to have resources
available on campus to assist students with this new way of registering.
Our solution was to equip a Registration Center with 40 new personal
computers and staff from the Registrars office to assist those students
encountering problems. In this way, the Center could act dually
as a place to register and a classroom where students could learn
to use the system.
We launched the web registration on November 15th, scheduling 500
students each day during the first week. This number increased as
we gained confidence in the system. The web was by far the most
popular way of registering. We found that 50% of courses were registered
for via the web, 37% through advisors and faculty from their office
computers, and the remainder by telephone.
Based on preliminary feedback and comments from students, the project
was an overwhelming success. Weve just completed mailing a questionnaire
to all students regarding their experiences with the new system,
and will use their input to further improve this service.
Online registration introduced to our campus has been tremendous,
said Student Government President Gordon. In the old registration
arena, she adds, one had to be prepared mentally and physically
to deal with hours upon hours of waiting on line; I hated those
days! Now I dont have to take time off from work to register. .
.Without a shadow of a doubt, [e-registration] has been a great