U of T’s Student Web Service for the last 19 years, the Repository of Student Information (ROSI), will retire on February 15 after three years spent operating alongside its successor, ACORN.
The declining use of ROSI, and the corresponding increase in students who now use ACORN as their only student web service, led the Enterprise Applications and Solutions Interface team (EASI) to move to the next phase of revamping U of T’s online student services: having one modern centralized platform for students’ online academic needs. This meant ending ROSI’s operations to make way for ACORN to be U of T’s only student web service.
Mike Clark, U of T’s Manager of User Experience & Process Design with EASI, explained that many factors were considered in making the decision, including the move to newer technologies under the hood. “Web technology moves very quickly,” he said. “We were seeing support go away for a lot of the building blocks that were holding ROSI together.”
ROSI began operations on March 15, 1999. It dates back to when earlier days of the internet, and around the time that it first became a tool for post-secondary students. Back then, the university was looking to move away from using paper for course enrolment, which required students to wait in long lines before the start of the term to submit their course requests, followed by having their timetable mailed to them.
ROSI was the university’s answer to this problem.
When it first launched, ROSI had both a website and a phone line, giving students two ways to access their information without having to come to campus. There was much fanfare around the opening of ROSI, and even a marketing campaign that involved a ROSI mascot.
The phone line was eventually shut down, leaving the website to become a staple of student life at the university. Over the years, ROSI’s website has gone through some interface changes, all aimed at making the online experience for students as smooth as possible while effectively presenting students with the information they need.
ROSI often had to manage large numbers of students using the system at the same time, particularly during course enrolment periods. This led to periods of downtime that left students frustrated as they tried to get into their courses. As ROSI went through its growing pains, such as ways to mitigate those issues, such as staggered enrollment start times for students in different years of study, new improvements were introduced. When ACORN users began experiencing downtime issues during peak enrollment times, students successfully used ROSI as a backup system when they couldn’t get ACORN to work.
ROSI’s legacy and its name will continue to live on, at least for the foreseeable future. The student portion of ROSI will become ‘ROSI Alumni Transcripts;’ according to ROSI’s website, will have “reduced functionality to facilitate transcript requests,” mainly for use by alumni who are familiar with the interface. In addition, the part of ROSI that is used by university administrators and staff will continue to exist and will continue to bear the same name.