Changes Coming to SIS
The Student Information System (SIS), which serves as the access point for every RIT student’s scheduling, graduation and financial services, is scheduled for a major upgrade and renovation over the next few years. Luke Auburn, the communications specialist for the new SIS project, says that one of the major goals behind the creation of this state-of-the art system (entitled GeneSIS) is to give the academic institute the “opportunity to increase support for students’ academic success throughout the student lifecycle.”
One of the major complaints students have about the current SIS is the seemingly unnecessary number of separate online portals and domains for different parts of the system. To this end, Auburn states, “[The] new SIS will unify many of RIT’s student services under one system.” In addition to simplifying the student interaction with the system, this unification will allow different departments throughout RIT to more efficiently communicate and work towards one overarching goal: increased student success.
The project will be implemented alongside the conversion to the semester system, with the first stages of the implementation beginning in fall of 2012. The new system will possess enhanced advising and progress-tracking abilities, which are touted as being crucial tools in protecting students from falling behind due to the semester conversion. The idea of retrofitting the current SIS for semesters was also considered, but ultimately abandoned as it became clear that the project would cost millions without improving on any practices or functionality of the old system.
The first elements of the new system to be released will likely go unnoticed by current RIT students as they center on enrollment, admissions and recruitment. However, the remainder of the new SIS will be brought live over the course of a year after initial release, into the beginning of the 2013 school year.
Creation of Self-Publishing Policy
Rhonda Laskoski of the Academic Senate’s Academic Support Committee presented the committee’s work to date on a new policy that would limit the royalties that instructors would be allowed to receive from any self-published materials. Though the policy is still in the planning stages, it stirred much debate amongst the senate. Senate Vice Chair Tim Engström expressed concern with faculty earning any profit from self-published books. “I’d like to see us remove desire for profit entirely from our relationships with students,” said Engström. Golisano College of Computing and Information Sciences (GCCIS) Senator Elizabeth Lawley agreed, opining that, by forcing students to pay for materials published by their professors, “we are treading on very, very shaky ethical ground.”
Calendar Conversion Update
In Reporter’s September 17 “Semester Conversion Update” article, we incorrectly cited Dr. Anne Wahl, director of Student Learning Outcome Assessment, as the leader of the calendar conversion committee. In fact, J. Fernando Naveda, formerly the chair of software engineering in GCCIS, is the leader of this effort as the calendar conversion director for Academic Affairs.
Naveda spoke at length with the Academic Senate regarding various specifics of the upcoming change to the semester calendar system. One of the major talking points was the inclusion of non-three-credit-hour courses. Under the new semester system, three-credit-hour courses would be the standard. According to Naveda, Provost Jeremy Haefner has approved the first batch of requests for four credit hour courses. Currently, the status of courses that would require fewer than three credit hours is unclear. Tom Policano, NTID senator, expressed concern and asked that the issue be resolved as soon as possible.
Another important question was the maximum number of credit hours that any student would be allowed to take in a given semester. Currently, the plan allows for students to take an unlimited number of credit hours without any increase in tuition. The idea behind this would be to allow extremely motivated students to get ahead without incurring a financial penalty. There was concern that some students could play the system by registering for too many classes and dropping them by Week Two or Three. This would pose the problem of taking seats away from students who were truly interested in taking a given class.
Microsoft Announces Internet Explorer 9 Beta
Microsoft announced on September 15 that its newest web browser, Internet Explorer 9 (IE9), was entering an open beta testing phase. Within 48 hours of the announcement, over two million people across the globe downloaded the trial version. IE9 supports the newest set of web development standards including CSS3, HTML5 and the Web Open Font Format. The download is available for free, but only works on Windows 7 and Windows Vista with Service Pack 2. Both 32- and 64-bit versions of these operating systems are supported.
Possible Facebook Smartphone
On September 19, technology blog TechCrunch released a claim stating that Facebook was secretly working with a third party to produce a mobile phone. Facebook would provide the software, while the third party would manufacture the hardware. TechCrunch stated that the project is being kept so under wraps that most of Facebook’s staff was still unaware of it.
The next day, Facebook CEO and Founder Mark Zuckerberg invited the writers to the social media giant’s Palo Alto, Calif. headquarters to discuss the phone.
“Our whole strategy is not to build any specific device or integration or anything like that,” Zuckerberg said, “because we’re not trying to compete with Apple or the Droid or any other hardware manufacturer for that matter.” What Facebook is planning is to work with, not against, those who make applications, operating systems and hardware in order to have social networking become an integral part of phones.
Last year, TechCrunch broke the news that Google was working on its own phone, which turned out to be the Nexus One, a device manufactured by HTC which runs Google’s own Android operating system. Microsoft created a heavily social network-based phone called the Kin, though that project was killed merely weeks after the phone’s release.
Recession Ended Last Year, According to the NBER
Americans rejoiced when the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) announced that the economic recession had officially ended. However, many were surprised that it had ended technically in June 2009. According to the Business Cycle Dating Committee of the NBER, the recession started in December 2007 and lasted a total of 18 months. Though unemployment has continued to rise into 2010, the NBER cites rising GDP as the indicator of the official end of the recession.
At 18 months, this was the longest postwar recession; previously, the longest recession lasted 16 months in the early 1980s. The past recession was the worst since the Great Depression regarding the number of jobs lost in the U.S.
PlayStation 3 Move Released
Entertainment giant Sony released its PlayStation 3 Move on September 17. The peripheral, which consists of the Sony Eye camera and the Sony Move motion controller, works by using the camera to track a lighting ball on the track of the controller. On-board software tracks the ball on a 2-D plane, and can judge how far away it is from the camera based on the size of the ball. Accelerometers in the controller also track rotations. Move will allow players to interact with the console without the use of traditional controllers.
Move is similar to the Nintendo Wii, which uses only accelerometers to track motion, and the Xbox Kinect, which uses a camera to track the player without a special controller.
Move was released in Europe on September 15 and will be released in Japan on October 21.