Java Solutions Expand Student Services at the University Level
Although research universities were the first Internet users, higher education d'es not immediately come to mind when one thinks of "e-business." But, just as corporations are using the Internet to manage applications and expand business opportunities, universities across the country are leveraging the Web to attract students and provide faculty and staff with new methods of obtaining and sharing information.
During the 1990s, many universities shifted part of the registration process from in-person campus visits to the telephone. Although this process did save students some time, it also put enormous strains on university telephone systems and did not alleviate the amount of necessary paperwork.
Today, Java applications enable universities to offer registration and other student services over the Internet. Java is a software platform programming language that allows students to interact with a particular program, regardless of what platform it's running on. Java-enabled applications allow students to apply for financial aid, register for courses, pay tuition and complete a variety of school related tasks from a Web-enabled computer at home or elsewhere.
The University of Minnesota and CalPoly State University are among the many academic institutions partnering with IBM to implement Java-based Internet applications that are transforming existing legacy computing systems into total e-business solutions.
University of Minnesota
As a worldwide leader in Java technology, IBM worked with the University of Minnesota to develop a Java-based student information system. Students can build their schedule over the Internet, allocating time for classes, work, studying and social events. Since this planning tool is integrated with the class registration process students register with a few simple clicks of a mouse instead of waiting in line. Nearly 85 percent of the students are now registering for classes online.
The University of Minnesota's unique self-service model enables students to study the impact of one decision on other areas of their academic life. For example, students can use the online financial aid estimator to determine their eligibility for financial aid. This application is linked to other processes, so that if a student drops a course, it is automatically reflected in the financial aid they receive. A personal course planner with online advising tools helps students select courses that best meet their career objectives.
The online information system is delivered through a Web site, accessible at any time from any place. Last fall, the University demonstrated the application during the fall semester student and family orientation. After the demonstration, the application received a standing ovation and several positive comments from students and parents.
CalPoly State University
CalPoly State University has also partnered with IBM to create an application based on open standards to offer student services via the Internet. The University utilized Java to develop an application that allows students to access an exist-ing telephone registration application from any Web-enabled remote computer.
The Web based system, which receives more than two million hits a month, is overwhelmingly popular with students. It has substantially eased the load of phone calls made to the Registrar's office because students can now obtain registration-related information themselves. Fewer phone calls saves the University money.
Even as Java solutions revolutionize the way universities provide student services, other members of the academic community are also benefiting from Java. Faculty and staff at universities across the country have witnessed a similar computing transformation based on Java solutions.
Java applications are helping to drive the academic computing environment into the 21st century. As an increasing number of universities switch to open standards computing, IBM is helping faculty, staff and students share ideas and information through total e-business solutions.
This article originally appeared in the 05/01/1999 issue of THE Journal.