John Carroll University is undergoing an update to its Banner software.
The updates include improvements to BannerWeb, the online interface used by students and administrators to access academic records, financial aid information, and schedules. The update, known as Banner 8, includes new features that the University may use in the future. The updated software will debut around July 4, 2010.
Brian Williams, vice president for enrollment, called the update “major.”
“[It’s] sort of the equivalent of going from [Windows] 98 to Windows XP,” he said.
The University will implement some of Banner 8’s new features once it examines whether they are practical for different departments and offices to use.
“We need to look at that functionality [and] decide if it’s right for John Carroll,” Williams said. “That’s going to involve a lot of people and a lot of additional testing because it’s things we currently do a different way and we would really need to change our process or it’s a brand new thing that we’ve never done before. [We] need to look at the best way to implement it for Carroll to serve students and advisers better.”
The new version of BannerWeb, also known as the JCU Banner Self-Service System, will feature a cleaner interface display that is more user-friendly, according to Williams. Degree evaluations will also be redesigned to better meet student’s and adviser’s needs. While nothing is finalized yet, the plan is to display classes that can fulfill major, minor and core requirements. Seniors can fill out graduation applications through this new update of BannerWeb as well, but JCU has yet to determine whether they will use the feature.
The new BannerWeb has an up-to-date monitoring function for class registration. The University can set up rules in the program that prevent full-time students from dropping to part-time status online without speaking to an adviser first. Currently, classes can be dropped online without system prevention. However, if full-time students drop enough classes to be considered part-time, there are financial aid, athletic, and campus living implications. Students also may not graduate on time. Williams explained that there are rules preventing students from taking actions that should be consulted first with advisers.
The new BannerWeb will also serve a purpose for students thinking about coming to John Carroll. Rather than prospective students signing and sending an enrollment reservation form by mail, they can reserve their place in the freshman class by logging in online.
According to Williams, the biggest improvement to the program is, rather than denying students admission into a course, they will be put on a waiting list.
“That has implications across every academic department,” he said.
Some of the functions included in the new Banner program may or may not be used in John Carroll’s version of BannerWeb.
“There [are] things in each version of Banner that don’t fit us as an institution that we may never use at all,” Williams said. “We have an existing process that may work well.”
Williams explained that student feedback is absolutely critical to determine the functions in the new update of BannerWeb.
“I think a goal of registration is [doing] as much registration after seeing an adviser [as] you can do online and not need to go to different offices,” he said. “The more that it can be self-service, I always have an eye to that. We can’t build something that then becomes a Web page that isn’t clear for students how to navigate.”
As was reported in last week’s edition of The Carroll News, other improvements that will be featured in the new update of BannerWeb include listing of textbooks for courses and online transcript requests. The recently-passed Higher Education Opportunity Act requires the listing of textbooks for courses.
Dennis Rowinski, director of administrative computing services, believes that the trend is moving towards providing student services online.
“This is another step in that direction,” he said. “Students are customers of the administrative people, so you empower the customer to be able to do more versus visiting the registrar’s office.”