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Penn InTouch Refresh Project Underway: New Course Search Tool Coming in March 2008
February 5, 2008, Volume 54, No. 20

A new project is currently underway to revamp the University’s Penn InTouch student data system, with goals to modernize the web-based interfaces, improve the user experience and update the underlying technology. The project is sponsored by Student Registration & Financial Services (SRFS) in conjunction with Information Services & Computing (ISC) and will be referred to as the Penn InTouch “Refresh” project. It will be implemented in two phases over the next 18 months. While the primary focus of the project will involve re-tooling existing functionality, several enhancements are planned to assist students with course selection for registration.

A new “Course Search” capability will provide students with the ability to search for courses based on a number of different criteria, including subject, instructor, keywords and meeting times. Students will be able to access detailed course information, including a full course description, cross-listed sections and any associated required pre-requisites, co-requisites or restrictions. As they choose interesting courses, they can use a “Schedule Planning” tool to overlay and visualize the meeting patterns to help with planning their schedule and selections for registration. 

The new search and schedule planning capabilities are expected to be rolled out in mid-March of 2008, in time for students to use in conjunction with planning for Summer & Fall 2008 registration, which begins on March 24, 2008. It should be noted that these new planning tools will be released initially as a standalone application, accessible from links on both the PennPortal and the Penn InTouch registration area, but they will not be integrated into the actual registration process.

The broader re-engineering of the Penn InTouch system will also necessitate changes to the Advisor InTouch system used by staff, since the two applications are tightly integrated. The total initiative will involve a significant effort for design, programming and testing, particularly since it impacts such a broad and diverse audience, and implementation is expected to occur during the summer of 2009.

The Penn InTouch Refresh project will rely on both student and school feedback for design review and testing; the core project team has already been in contact with students regarding a related proposal from the Undergraduate Assembly submitted last winter. These students will serve on an advisory board to help coordinate communications and feedback from other students and/or student groups. As for school participation, the current members of the SRS-PIT Subcommittee will be called upon to insure that any associated renovations are integrated with the Advisor InTouch system to insure continued support of their specific needs.

—Student Registration & Financial Services

Almanac - February 5, 2008, Volume 54, No. 20