Friday, September 21, 2007

The Beast that Inhabits the Registrar's Office

My University has a Student Information System (SIS) that runs on some sort of crazy IBM mainframe that you have to connect to though a terminal emulator and navigate cryptically named menus to use. This is part of our homebrew system that we spent millions of dollars on instead of using Banner. From what I've heard, it is possibly less useful and more expensive than Banner. If I was the entrepreneurial sort, I'd consider starting my own company to compete with Banner.

They've given me pretty liberal access to this system because I am an advisor, and I need to be able to clear students' advising holds and allow them to register for classes. As a side effect of this modest need, I can also print class lists for any class in the university, print schedules for any student, and possibly also change students' schedules. I haven't yet explored the limits of my powers. I think that the system relies on its cryptic nature for most of its security. To print out a list for a math class, you don't key in the academic discipline as math; you ask for 641. This keeps most non-adventurous people from exploring the system's capabilities. I wonder what the "restricted administrative menu" is for….