Remembering ROSI

ROSI Student Web Service retires after 19 years online

Remembering ROSI

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.

Arts & Science marks posted on ACORN after delay for some courses

Students expressed concern when fall marks weren’t back by January 15

Arts & Science marks posted on ACORN after delay for some courses

As of January 17, all submitted marks from the Faculty of Arts & Science have been posted on ACORN after some students expressed concern that their grades were not yet posted. The only remaining exceptions are some students in Individual Studies courses or those who deferred an exam.

The faculty’s submission timeline requires that all marks be submitted by January 11 to be reviewed by their corresponding department. Professors have seven days to grade and submit the marks, not counting winter break or weekends. This allows exams taken on the last day of the exam period to have the same seven-day timeline.

Deborah Robinson, Faculty Registrar and Director of Undergraduate Academic Services, told The Varsity that by January 11, 98.1 per cent of courses had their marks posted on ACORN. According to Robinson, the remaining 1.9 per cent had grades posted by January 17. “Not very many courses were late.”

Some students voiced concern about the time they received their grades largely due to the fact that certain fall semester courses were prerequisites for winter semester courses.

University marking delays an undue burden on students

Re: “Marking delay in some courses leaves students without first-semester grades”

University marking delays an undue burden on students

With the second semester well underway, many students have yet to receive final grades in several Faculty of Arts & Science courses. On Monday, January 8, the Arts & Science registrar tweeted that most grades should be posted by mid-January and thanked students for their patience. However, the faculty has not given any convincing reason for the delay, which has had students waiting far too long, especially since many wrote their exams a month ago — or even before that.

The delay has resulted in many students being unable to plan the rest of their academic year in a timely and organized manner. Third-year student Shanelle Mullany told The Varsity that she was particularly upset about the delay, as it left her unable to apply to internships that required her to submit her grades before any of them had been posted.

Knowledge of one’s final grades is vital for students who may want to drop or redo courses. With the second-semester enrolment period on ACORN having ended on January 17, students were left with insufficient time and information to find courses to replace any that they may need to retake or replace.

One cause of long delays in marking might be an inadequate number of teaching assistants (TAs). Classes with large numbers and few TAs obviously create a large burden for the TAs that are there, potentially resulting in long waiting periods for feedback on tests and assignments, which could hinder students’ improvement in the course. This was particularly apparent in my full-year political science course this year. I wrote the midterm for the course on December 4 and only received the grade on January 15, since only one TA was tasked with marking the exams for a class with over 200 students.

The University of Toronto is one of the largest schools in the country, which understandably makes it difficult to grade all exams swiftly. However, the time students have been kept waiting for grades this semester seems to be exceptionally long, with the university giving no substantial answer for the cause of the delay. Students are being greatly disadvantaged by the current state of affairs through no fault of their own. If students are expected to submit work on time, faculties should be expected to return grades in a timely manner as well.

Yasaman Mohaddes is a third-year student at St. Michael’s College studying Political Science and Sociology.

Editor’s Note (January 20): This article has been update to clarify that the author’s grade on her midterm exam was not her final grade in the course.

Marking delay in some courses leaves students without first-semester grades

Arts & Science registrar says marks should be posted by mid-January

Marking delay in some courses leaves students without first-semester grades

Students in at least six undergraduate courses have yet to receive their marks from the first semester, a delay that has not been explained by the university as of yet.

The Faculty of Arts & Science registrar has tweeted that grades should be available on ACORN by mid-January and has thanked students for their patience.

Students took to online forums over the past week to voice their concerns regarding the missing grades, largely among Computer Science classes.

“So, I’m over a week into the winter semester, and I don’t know whether I should be re-attempting the course (in order to get into the POSt), or continuing my studies in computer science,” wrote reddit user DMihai on the U of T subreddit. “I was hoping I would be out of this limbo soon. Since admission into the computer science post is already incredibly stressful, releasing CSC236 marks this late is insulting.”

Komania, another Reddit user in a different computer science course, CSC324, wrote that prior to writing their final exam on December 16, the class had only 20 per cent of their total mark returned. “I’m venting because I’m really annoyed. I just wish there would be some communication but [the professor] just ignores all of us. I pay $13,000 in tuition and they can’t hire enough TAs to adequately mark.”

Reddit user jjstat4 expressed concern for students who have to decide on back-up courses if they fail CSC236, “as the wait-list end date and drop date rapidly approaches.”

As of press time, marks for CSC236, CSC324, CSC411, STA347, JAV200, and ARC251 have not been posted to ACORN.

U of T Media Relations did not respond to The Varsity‘s inquiries on the grading delays by press time.

If you are a student who has been affected by the grading delay, The Varsity would like to hear from you. Email with tips.

Editor’s Note (January 17): A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that CSC165 had not released course grades by January 15. CSC165 had, in fact, released course grades by January 15. 

Arts & Science students report general course enrolment difficulties

Problems with functionality of ACORN, ROSI

Arts & Science students report general course enrolment difficulties

Following the updated procedures, many students experienced problems with course enrolment on August 5.

After reports of ACORN not working on that date, the official U of T ACORN Twitter account encouraged students to enrol with ROSI.

Ana Fonseca, second-year Neuroscience and Physiology student, told The Varsity that she was not able to log into ACORN until two hours after her start time; she was able to log in to ROSI 45 minutes after her start time and enrol in a course.

After logging into ACORN later on, Fonseca discovered that she was not enroled in her course, perhaps due to a malfunction in ROSI; by this time the waitlist had gone up by 20 spots. Regarding her overall experience, Fonseca said, “It was so much more stress than it should have been.”

Jay Zuo, second-year Computer Science student, said that U of T had “failed us again.” He said both ACORN and ROSI were unresponsive for him from approximately 10:30 am to 12:00 pm.

According to Zuo, there was a glitch in ROSI that may have given some students an unfair advantage over others while enroling in courses: “If you clicked the enrol button repeatedly on ROSI, then click any section on the grey sidebar, six out of 10 times you will be enroled in said course, while others wait fruitlessly.”

U of T Media Relations Director Althea Blackburn-Evans commented on the problems students faced during course enrolment: “Unfortunately, efforts to alleviate potential overload on ACORN didn’t have the desired effect,” she explained.

The university was planning to have ACORN permanently replace ROSI by late 2016; Blackburn-Evans, told The Varsity that “[ROSI] will remain active until we have a good solution in place.”

Blackburn-Evans noted one positive outcome of the staggered enrolment times: students were able to contact staff directly when they encountered problems, as the 9:00 am start time aligned with the start of the business day.

“We’re very focused on improving the enrolment experience for students, and Arts & Science will continue to work with the ACORN team to ensure the new system is stable during heavy enrolment periods,” said Blackburn-Evans.

Staggered enrolment start times for Arts & Science after priority controls are lifted

New policy marks end of 6:00 am battle for courses

Staggered enrolment start times for Arts & Science after priority controls are lifted

The Faculty of Arts & Science is changing the process of course enrolment for when priority enrolment controls are lifted.

After the priorities drop, the August 5 enrolment start time will no longer be the same for all students; it will instead be staggered by year of study. Fourth years and up will start course selection at 9:00 am, followed by third years at 10:00 am, second years at 11:00 am, and first years at 12:00 pm.

During the priority enrolment period, some courses have controlled status for students, determined by factors such as subject POSts or year of study. These courses are made available to other students — provided that there is space in the course — during the general course enrolment period.

In previous years, priorities would drop for every student at 6:00 am, and ACORN and ROSI were susceptible to crashing due to excessive website traffic.

U of T Media Relations Director Althea Blackburn-Evans identified two reasons for this change: to avoid overloading the website and causing difficulties with selection; and to provide upper-years with first access to courses, addressing previous student feedback and consultations with staff at the colleges.

Blackburn-Evans also identified the benefit of immediate access to assistance should difficulties arise, now that the 9:00 am start time aligns with the start of the business day.

By the end of the summer, the Faculty of Arts & Science will collect feedback from students regarding this change and assess whether their goals of improvement were achieved.