New IT System Requires Learning Curve

Alicia Stavitzski, Reporter

   Information technology workers will train for the university’s new software  to show students and faculty how to use it.

   The conversion to Jenzabar EX will take place Sept. 18. Jenzabar EX representatives will provide the training.

   Val Apanovich, Director of IT and Project Manager of Jenzabar, sees the process as a two-phase approach.

   “In April we are looking to have a few 15 minute open sessions, for students and faculty, to demonstrate what the portal will look like,” said Apanovich.

   Apanovich is pleased with how the conversion is moving along.

  “Our current system is the AS400 that was installed back in the late 80s. It was a very cost-effective solution, but it is very limited in terms of functionality and also our ability to interface with other systems,” said Apanovich. “Jenzabar EX  provides us with more functionality.”

   IT staffers say Jenzabar is an enterprise resource planning system specifically designed as a student information system. It will provide students with their transcripts, enable registration, and provide specific information that students do not currently receive.

   “The goal is to tie together all of the different functionalities of the departments across the University not only dealing with students, as the primary focus of the system, but also the financial systems,” said Matt Mihal, Manager of Application Development.

   The conversion will have an effect not only on faculty, but students as well.

   Alivia Womelsdorf, second year pre-med biology major, is leery about the conversion.

   “I think that it’s a good change, but people don’t like change,” said Womelsdorf. “I feel like we’re kind of guinea pigs right now to see how it goes.”

   IT staffers say the learning curve is worth it because the Jenzabar EX system has features that will be helpful to advisors and students.

   “It’s going to have improved functionality compared to the AS400 because your courses will be mapped to your major. This helps with advising, because it lets students know what courses they need to take,” said Apanovich.

   Jenzabar will also provide users with the option to try out “what if scenarios” for changing majors and calculating GPAs.

     Ariel Peguero, third year business administration major, likes the idea of a tool that helps students to map out their education.

   “When I changed my major from sports management to business administration, it would have been helpful to know what classes I have left to take since I’m a junior, becoming a senior,” said Peguero.

   Jenzabar will also provide a feature that enables students to calculate their GPAs from their myMU account. Students will be able to provide projected grades next to courses that they are currently taking to calculate what their GPAs will be for the semester.

   “It’s really nice to be able to calculate your GPA when you’re in the semester instead of waiting until the end of the semester for your result,” said Womelsdorf.

   Peguero likes the idea of having a GPA calculator on the new portal.

   “It would be beneficial for me to use because it would give me a heads up on my GPA going into my senior year, and it would let me know if I have to work harder to get better grades,” said Peguero.

   Another feature is a function that allows professors to post which textbooks are required for their classes. Required textbooks will be available on students’ schedules and can be accessed from portal.

   “The first year I came here, I went to Banks Center with another student to figure out where to find our books, so this would have been very helpful to have at that time,” said Teegan French, fourth year business administration major.

   Peters also remembers a time when this software would have come in handy.

   “There was a situation in my education class where I had to pay $160 for a book, when I could have paid $30 used, because the teacher posted the syllabus too late with the textbook information on it,” said Peters. “This new function could have saved me a lot of money.”

   IT and other department workers will also have to learn how this system operates differently from the last system.

   “For example, what we have to do to portal every day is, if a new student is being added we have run a process every day that takes all of the people over and brings them over to the portal, so that’s a once-a-day process.

   IT staffers say the Jenzabar conversion will require about a week of system downtime. For that week, students and faculty will be able to use the current portal for things like email and Blackboard, but not Oasis.

   “When it comes to September were equating it to running a car race, but when we go to the pit stop we’re not changing a tire, we’re changing the engine. We have to get back out and run the race but with more time to do that,” said Apanovich.

   Cathy Silveri, IT Project Manager, is in charge of redesigning the new portal, which will replace e-MU.

   “The new portal has a new name called myMU,” said Silveri. “There will be some new changes, one of them being the student information system, which replaces Oasis. I will be redesigning and working with departments for content.”

   “I like myMU because it’s not really changing the name,” said Peguero.

   Peters approves of the new portal moniker as well.

   “I’m glad they are changing the name,” said Peters. “I never really understood the whole e-MU thing.”

   Students who have questions should contact Val Apanovich at [email protected] or Matt Mihal at [email protected]