ACORN Plan for 2016

We have a number of enhancements and new features planned for ACORN in 2016. Here’s a high-level overview of what to expect.

Enhancements

  • Course Enrolment

    • Messaging Improvements: Particularly related to improving the ‘Enrolment Blocked’ label. This has caused a fair amount of confusion for students, so we’ll be updating this label accordingly.
      • Issue: Currently there are three cases resulting in an ‘Enrolment Blocked’ notice appearing for students. 1) If a course is full and there are no waitlist-able sections; 2) If the course is full and they are enrolled in the course, and; 3) If the student doesn’t meet the enrolment indicators/controls for a course section.
      • Solution: We’ll treat these three issues separately.
        • If a course is full and there are no waitlist-able sections, a notice of ‘0 spaces available’ will appear.
        • If the course is full and they are enrolled in the course, a notice of ‘0 spaces available’ will show.
        • If the student doesn’t meet the enrolment indicators/controls for a course section, we will still have the ‘Enrolment Blocked’ label, with a newly added enrolment indicator, description and possibly a date for when the indicator will be changed. This is intended for FAS students, to begin with, possibly other divisions if desired.
      • Status: Completed
    • Modify enrolment cart items: Students will be able to switch sections for courses in their enrolment cart.
    • Search Improvements: A number of enhancements to how course search operates in order to improve convenience and ease of use.
      • Status: Completed
    • Program/course fee alerts: Letting students know when they are about to, and have, crossed important credit load thresholds and how this may impact their fees.
      • Estimated completion: Fall 2016
  • Personal Timetable Feed

    • Giving students the ability to download a copy of their personal course timetable and add it to their calendar of choice. This will allow students to view their timetables on any device.
      • Estimated completion: August 2016
  • Print/PDF Documents

    • Improvements to the print/pdf layout of the Invoice and personal timetable.
    • Improvements to the print/pdf layout of Academic History.
    • Introducing a new self-service option for students to download a Confirmation of Enrolment.
      • Note: This will be available on a divisional opt-in basis.
      • Estimated completion: Fall 2016

Student Finances

Our core functional area of focus for this coming year will see dramatic improvements to online financial services on ACORN.

  • Awards & Financial Aid Space

    • This feature will introduce a new screen on ACORN with two tabs. The first tab will link students with relevant opportunities for awards and financial aid. The second tab is a record of previously received, and upcoming, U of T award disbursements.
    • Image of first tab; Image of second tab
    • Expected completion: August 2016
  • Financial Planning Calculator

    • It is a challenge for students to adequately plan their finances to determine if they’ll be in good shape or not. This planning calculator will provide students with the ability to get a full picture of their finances prior to the academic year.
    • Image of Planning Calculator
    • Note – This will reside outside of ACORN as a standalone publicly accessible tool, to begin with.
    • Expected completion: August 2016
  • Online Grant Application

    • This initiative will coordinate various manual, paper-based grant applications into an online process for students. This is intended primarily for students in divisions/units who opt-in to the service.
    • Expected completion: September 2016
  • Credit Card Payment

    • Online credit card payments will be made available on ACORN for students using the Moneris secure checkout. This will allow students to pay tuition and fees with credit cards with a 1.75% convenience fee added to the transaction total.
    • Status: Completed July 2016

Mobile

Throughout the year we will optimize ACORN for various small-screen devices. This effort will become more sophisticated as the year progresses beginning with convenient responsive features and ending with a fully optimized mobile experience.

  • Estimated completion: Rolling updates beginning in March 2016

Timetable Builder

Creating an ideal course timetable can be extremely labour intensive for students, particularly those in open programs with courses that have multiple lecture, lab and tutorial sections. The timetable builder will present students with an optimized timetable based on their courses and time preferences. This is intended for an undergraduate primarily arts and sciences audience, to begin with.

  • Note – This will reside outside of ACORN as a standalone publicly accessible tool, to begin with.
  • Estimated completion: Fall 2016

Staff View

We are exploring the use of Microsoft Lync/Skype for Business as a mechanism for screen sharing between students and staff. A pilot project will be conducted with a broad roll-out to follow. Pilot expected to be initiated: Summer 2016 

Sunsetting ROSI-SWS

We had intended to sunset ROSI-SWS for current students in Spring 2016. Further analysis has indicated we will need to hold off on this until we have an adequate solution for students and alumni to activate a UTORid from off-campus. Given this, ROSI-SWS will remain as is for the time being with current students able to perform all functions as they have to date.