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ISIS telephone service faces new online competition

Good-bye ISIS man, hello mouse.

University students now can click their way into classes from their personal computers, thanks to a new online program that already has begun to compete with the telephone as the preferred method of registration.

"I think probably by spring registration, we'll see the Web overtake the phone. I think everybody pretty much expects that," said Don Reynard, director of operations and data services.

Everything from grades to semester schedules to lists of books for classes now is available to students, after nearly 20 months of preparation by ITC and the University Registrar.

The new online service was created in response to student requests.

"We had many students say 'why can't we do this on the Web?' And now we can say, 'here you are, now you can,'" Registrar Ann Antrobus said. "For some students, seeing something is so much more advantageous than hearing it."

Already, more than 5,422 students have used the Web to final register, compared to 9,977 who used the phone.

The number of students who registered online is higher than anticipated because the new service was not advertised, Antrobus said.

"We didn't make a big splash and say 'look at what we've done,' because we wanted to be able to test it without having 18,000 students signing on at the same time," she said.

Because students are more computer savvy than they were even a few years ago, the online registration service has really taken off, surprising the Web program's creators.

"We had some shaky moments this week when the system would get slow or bogged down," Antrobus said.

Because the next few weeks are a critical period, the system is being monitored daily, she said.

But she added that ITC is ironing out the kinks and the site should be able to handle increased traffic in the future.

And students should not worry about security online, said Russ Dinsmore, project manager and systems analyst.

"Nobody can snitch your ID or PIN number while you're working on ISIS online," Dinsmore said.

The system also has a safeguard that automatically shuts off access after two minutes if it is not being used, in case students forget to log out while working in a lab or library.

The Registrar was so concerned with ensuring adequate security that the office cancelled its contract with the original vendor, Epos, in favor of an in-house team of ITC and Registrar personnel. This switch-up came after some delay.

Now the system is going strong. Over 15,000 hits were recorded Tuesday, with 230,000 requests for information, Dinsmore said.

"You know, you guys pay a lot of money to go here and so you need a good service and the Internet's the way to do that," he said. "All the big universities are going towards that"

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