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IT Intervention Paper


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This was an IT Intervention project I did for MIS 3305 that solved a problem at Baylor University using information technology.

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IT Intervention Paper

  1. 1. IT Intervention Project Group 4 James Gilreath, Claire Perkins, Brad Sullivan
  2. 2. Group 4 PROBLEM For students at Baylor University, the advising process is very annoying and unorganized. Not only for Baylor students, but faculty and staff as well. Some of the issues facing the student body are unclear advice in their field of study, unclear advice as to how to register and transfer in summer school credits/courses, difficulty mapping out a graduation plan and viewing a degree audit for possible majors, as well as registering for classes in general due to system failure during registration times. The advising departments in every different school of study are overworked and do not communicate effectively. Consequently, student have become frustrated with classes either being made up, class sequences are out of order, or graduation day becoming postponed. This affects students from day one of freshman year (regular advising department) until graduation day (school of study). Confusion also makes every advising office’s job harder. Since the advising departments do not communicate effectively or all on the same system, advisors are left cleaning the mess other advising departments have left the student with. SOLUTION The solution seemed apparent: there was a need to create a system more sophisticated than BearWeb that was accessible to the entire student body, as well as the faculty and staff. That is when the idea of Baylor University Advising Service (BUAS) was created. This system simplifies the job of the advising department as well as the aggravation for the students. The features include a filed system for course equivalency documents from community colleges, easily accessible and hypothetical degree audits,
  3. 3. Group 4 uncomplicated registration processes and straightforward online advising, among many other features. This will lessen the workload for the advising department, become easy to maintain, and have easy accessibility and prompt solutions provided for students with each semester mapped out tailored to each individual student’s strengths as well as keeping in mind their weaknesses. BUDGET Costs The budget is extremely reasonable; the entire system over the period of 5 years would end up costing $108,000, which includes: system start up costs ($75,000 in year one); BUAS maintenance ($2,000 per year in years 2, 3, 4, and 5); BUAS systems training ($2,000 per year), and components ($1,000 per year). System start up costs would be created the software and getting it up and running via Internet on Baylor University’s network. BUAS maintenance would be required if there was system failure or an outage of some sort. Also once a semester for updating which professors are teaching which classes, etc. BUAS systems training would include training the advising department how to use BUAS as well as other faculty and staff. Components would include the additional Internet servers needed to run BUAS. Benefits There are multiple benefits to having the BUAS. The intangible benefits are saving time for the students as well as faculty and staff, reduction in advising appointments ultimately leading to a more satisfied advising department, and a reduction in student confusion. Tangible benefits would be that students are not taking any
  4. 4. Group 4 unnecessary classes (estimated $1,860.67) as well as summer school alternatives ($1,500 per class difference). For an average student, this would save the entire student body an average of $204,321,600.67. Subtract the cost of the system, and there is still $204,213,600.67 money saved for students over the course of four years. Planning The advising process has come under fire from many students at Baylor University and other universities nationwide. Our group has devised an online advising system available for access to Baylor students and faculty that will layout a semester-by- semester course schedule for each desired major. The Baylor University Advising System (BUAS) will not completely do away with the old system. Instead it will work in conjunction with the old system and help both students and faculty achieve a better end- result. The first step is determining how feasible the BUAS will be to create. This leads our group to our first goal in the plan which is to gather information from Baylor advisors, the IT department, and any other necessary people that might know what it would take to create such a system. After discussing our plans with faculty, we will then have an idea of all the resources needed to start the project. Once the resources have been determined, then our budget can be created which will guide any expenditure related to the system. Analysis In order for BUAS to be successful, it will need to benefit both students and faculty. First, students want a system that will save them time and prevent stress while
  5. 5. Group 4 giving them an insight on the courses they will need to complete in future semesters. The stress students go through related to the advising normally deals with inaccuracies. BUAS must be constantly updated to provide students with accurate major requirements, courses, etc. Also, most students want to minimize their time in college by taking the right courses at the right times, and, if possible, prevent switching majors. The BUAS needs to be able to paint a “realistic” picture for student to clearly see what courses they are required to take for their desired major. Although the BUAS will be designed to help lessen the number of major switches by students, they are bound to happen from time to time. Katie Rasmussen, an advisor at Baylor University, suggested a “what-if” option, which would allow students to see what courses they would need if they changed majors. For advisors to accept the BUAS, it will need to be simple. The general consensus among advisors on Baylor’s campus is the degree audits are confusing to decipher and explain to students. Along with being confusing, the degree audits are not always consistent with degree plans that several departments have listed online. The BUAS will differ from this system by being both accurate and reliable, which will facilitate advisors on their way towards helping more students. Design The design of the BUAS must be parallel to the needs of the user. The design envisioned is a clean, straightforward online system similar to BearWeb. The first screen of the BUAS will be the login page for students and faculty. The next screen will allow the student to provide the following information such as their major and field of study as well as a possible second major. Then the student will mark checkboxes for all of the classes that they have previously taken, which will lead the system to generate their
  6. 6. Group 4 graduation plan. The following screens will show the student their graduation plan, which will differ depend on whether the student takes summer school or on the student‘s desired course load per semester. Other features will include the “what-if” option and information on how to register/transfer summer school courses and credits. The screen layouts can be seen in greater detail in Appendix . Development During the development phase, programmers will be working closely with advisors to ensure the final product includes everything in the design. This will reduce the risk of having to spend time going back and making changes once the program has been completed. Also by including the advisors in the development of the software itself, programmers are able make the layout of the program look exactly like the designs prepared by advisors. Also during this phase, project leaders will develop the IT infrastructure that supports the program and will consist of two parts: human resources and technology. The human resources side of the infrastructure will outline how advisors are trained to use the program and who is responsible for providing the technical support when problems or malfunctions arise. The technology side of the infrastructure will set up the database working behind the scenes of the program that is responsible for storing all the course data and student plans. The program will be written onto software that can then be installed onto any computer or loaded onto the BearWeb website allowing anyone with a ID and password access. Testing As the program travels through development, each portion will be tested as completed. This will make sure each part of the program functions correctly before
  7. 7. Group 4 moving on and reduce the amount of time needed to search for problems that arise after the program has been fully written. Once the program is completed, programmers and advisors will test the entire application to make sure everything functions as it’s intended and that the whole program is connected to the database. During development and after completion, the following test conditions must be met for the program to be implemented: Test Condition # Test Condition Expected Result 1 Click on “Create Advising Plan” Student information page appears 2 Type in Student ID and password Correct student file opens 3 Click “Next” after choosing major Correct detailed listing of courses appears 4 Leave certain required fields empty and click “Next” Error page appears 5 Select courses taken by clicking the check boxes and hit “Next” Summary page of all chosen course correctly appears 6 Click “Show Graduation Plan” Graduation plan page appears and correctly lists required courses in chronological order 7 Click “Print” Graduation plan page sent to printer 8 Click “Finish” Graduation plan page sent via email to student’s correct advisor 9 Click “Edit” Redirected from page “Graduation plan” to page “Select your major” 10 Let the open program idle for 15 minutes ID and password page appears when resuming use of program after 15 minutes of idle time Implementation The advising program will be implemented by combining the parallel and the pilot implementation methods. The program will go live on June 1 and only be available
  8. 8. Group 4 on Baylor computers on campus in advising offices. By implementing the program during the summer, only a small, controlled group of students will be able to use it and advisors, along with the IT department will be able to monitor its progress much more efficiently. By the end of the summer, incoming freshmen and transfer students will use the program during orientation to create their profiles in the database and sign up for their first semester of classes. The old system will still be in place throughout the summer and the fall semester in case any problems arise with the new program. At the beginning of the fall semester, the program will go live on the BearWeb website where every student will be given access and required to create their profiles for the first time and enter their information into their graduation plans. By implementing the program during the summer and allowing access to only a small amount of people, advisors are able to devote more of their time to learning the program and get the training they need on all the new procedures. Maintenance The IT support department will be responsible for working with advisors to make necessary changes, corrections, additions, and updates to the new advising program. During the first year of implementation, the support department will be very busy making changes and additions to the program to meet the needs of the advisors and students. After the interface and appearance changes have been made and the program is working exactly as it should be, the majority of the work required to maintain the program will only involve updating the database to add and remove new and old courses for each semester as graduation requirements change.
  9. 9. Group 4