Sun. May 26th, 2024

Image: News_RamConnect_1: Registration Rally Banner located at Sykes via Olivia Karczewski

Starting March 27, 2024, registration for West Chester University’s fall semester began. On the same date, students first experienced “Ram Portal.” 

Ram Portal, the brand new student information system, rolled out at the beginning of the spring 2024 semester. The new system is a redesign of the previously known system, “MyWCU.”

Prior to the launch of the system and in preparation for registration season, many preparations were put into place. Ram Portal training sessions allowed students and faculty to test the waters of the system before it officially launched and became the primary system for use.

The re-modernization has been in the works for quite a bit of time — and isn’t just a redesign for West Chester’s system. Soon enough, all schools in the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) will be using a redesigned portal. According to Rosa Lara, the chief information officer for PASSHE, the goal for the implementation of a new system was to coordinate all 14 different schools in the PASSHE system to have the same system. 

“We began a conversation about, well, what could we do if we were all on a common platform? And then that then led to the genesis of the project, not just for West Chester but for all institutions,” said Lara. She noted that WCU was one of the first cohorts of schools to launch the system — warranting a few bumps in the road. 

The reason for the change at WCU largely centered around innovation and a more positive experience, as stated by Megan Jerabek, the executive sponsor of the transition. “One of our goals was to inspire, and we say that in mainly the student and the staff’s usability of the system. We see this system as having a lot of benefits over our existing [system], so we really wanted to make sure that the experience that users had was a little bit more inspiring too,” Jerabek said. 

On March 27, many students ran into the same problem: courses were unavailable or the system simply did not work for their devices. West Chester students were not left in the dark, as registrar staff were prepared to help students with the issues they encountered. The ‘registration station’ stationed in the bottom floor of the SECC building was full of faculty equipped to fix any issues students had. Jerabek noted that these stations were also available for the graduate center and on WCU’s Philadelphia campus. This registration station is not just a pop-up available for the week of registration, it is always available to students in the registrar’s office at 25 University Ave. 

Other issues that still linger within the project are being fixed. “I don’t like that there is still a class I need to take [that is] not approved by the system a week after the start of my registration. I was told it takes time for the class to get approved in the new system since it doesn’t follow a regular schedule. I had to put in a filler class just in case my intended class doesn’t get approved,” shared Ellie Perrin, a second-year media and culture major at WCU. 

Other than technical bugs that appear due to the launch of the system, feedback from students and faculty has been relatively positive in regard to the new system as a whole. Students say that it is more responsive, technically sound and most importantly, it is compatible with cell phones, so students could register from wherever they wanted. 

When asked about the overall experience with the Ram Portal program itself, Perrin said, “Overall the largest difference I’ve seen is just in the layout of the two programs. The processes are very similar, not making a large improvement in user experience.” 

This change could not have been possible without the overwhelming support of staff, as noted by multiple faculty members who were a part of the transition. Jeffrey Osgood, Deputy Provost, shared his thoughts.

“I’m proud of our local team for providing the most support for the transition compared to any other university. Our team is working late in the evening to provide drop-in help for students and faculty,” Osgood noted. “While this wasn’t our choice, I’m proud of our team for trying their best to make this easy for students like you and our faculty and staff.” 

The goal of the staff was to make the system more modern, interactive and compatible for students. According to students, those boxes were checked, with only a few complications in the way. 

 


Olivia Karczewski is a second-year Media and Culture major with a minor in Journalism. OK992873@wcupa.edu.

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