Penn InTouch changes far on the horizon

While student groups call for Penn InTouch improvements, changes likely to take months

· September 27, 2007, 5:00 am

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Any senior hoping for a simple, streamlined class-registration system should stop holding their breath: Penn InTouch will not be updated this year.

But there is still hope for freshmen, sophomores and juniors, who will likely see a big improvement to the system by the time they graduate.

Last Tuesday, members of the Undergraduate Assembly, Student Financial Services and Information Systems and Computing met to find new ways to improve Penn InTouch, the online organization system that many believe needs a major overhaul.

Regina Koch, the IT Technical Director for Student Registration and Financial Services, said improving Penn InTouch now is an official project.

"We have to replace some of the technology because the systems are 15 years old," she said.

Wharton senior Alex Flamm, the Undergraduate Assembly representative spearheading the campaign for Penn InTouch change, said SFS and ISC are planning a large change sooner than anticipated.

"Rather than trying to create a temporary stopgap solution, they're basically beginning a project to completely overhaul Penn InTouch," Flamm explained.

For the time being, the UA, ISC and SFS are in talks to determine a list of priorities for fixing the system.

"In the first round of changes, the UA would like to see increased capability for searching and scheduling," said College junior Anthony Maggio, who is working with the UA on the project.

In the long term, Maggio said the UA hopes that a wait-list feature will be made available, and that students will have the ability to search by requirements for majors.

Although Koch said that there are currently no firm plans for specific features or a timeline for alterations, Maggio acknowledges that big changes, such as the ones the UA has proposed for Penn InTouch, can often take up to nine months to implement.

Both Koch and Janet Ansert, the assistant registrar for student records, stressed that improvements are constantly being made to Penn InTouch, such as emergency contacts for the new Penn Alert system and online grading.

But with desired changes still a distant dream, other student groups are joining the UA's call for improvements.

"I think everyone is a little frustrated that you have to have 12 windows open to add a class," College senior Andrew Migdail said.

Migdail and Georgios Drossinos, a College junior, are co-chairmen of the Dean's Advisory Board, a student group that serves as the liaison between College Dean Dennis DeTurck and College students that hope to work with the UA on Penn InTouch issues.

Drossinos said the DAB would like to see a better class-search system and a wait-list function, as well as a more centralized system in the long run.

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