Not In Line
the Web there is less waiting than ever before. Here are snapshots of
some innovations that have benefited the campus over the last few years.
Seventeen-year-old Amanda Bolach woke up early Oct. 1, went to her computer
and filled out the CSU electronic admissions application.
It was the first day of SFSU's fall 2005 priority application period
for prospective students.
"I was really eager to apply," the Sacramento-area high school
senior says a few days later, while waiting with her mom to take a campus
tour. "I'm interested in the hospitality management program. I
did a lot of research on the Internet and liked what I found at SF State."
The CSU moved its admissions process online three years ago. Prospective
students who sometimes waited months in the past now usually hear within
three or four weeks whether they are admitted. SFSU consolidated all
the components of an application -- transcripts, SAT scores and financial
aid forms -- into a single Web file that prospective students can access
easily to check the status of their application.
The convenience and speed of online admissions have spurred an extraordinary
growth in the number of electronic applicants. In 2001, just 31 percent
of prospective students filed online; by 2004, 92 percent filed electronically.
It speeds up the admissions process, is more accurate and cuts down
After the tour, Amanda was even more sold on SFSU. "The school's
diversity really appeals to me,"she says. "Plus, it's San
What's the best tech innovation SFSU has made in the last few years?
Hands down, it's the MySFSU Web site, says Michael Abena, a senior speech
communication studies major.
Students go to the multi-purpose site to take care of University business
that only a few years ago required them to visit administrative offices
all over campus, to stand in long lines for financial aid checks and
to wait sometimes days or even weeks for information.
"The site allows me to do almost everything -- pay bills, get my
classes, access my financial records, change my address, and get a copy
of my transcript," he says. "I can do all this from my home
or wherever I am online."
Abena, who works as a campus tour guide and assists at new-student orientation,
says knowing how to use the MySFSU site and checking it frequently is
key to a new student's success. "It can help keep track of your
General Education and other degree requirements," he says. "I
tell new students to use it all the time."
Abena uses his laptop to do research and homework, send e-mail and surf
the Web. Using a wireless card, he can connect to the Internet from
most campus locations, including the library and the quad. "With
a laptop, I'm not as dependent on the campus computer labs," he
Images of SFSU's old Problem Center are etched in Gene Ferguson's memory.
A student in the early 1970s, he remembers waiting in long lines the
day before classes started each semester to complete his schedule. The
old CAR (computer-assisted registration) forms rarely gave students
a full schedule, so thousands came to the gym to try to get into class
sections that still had room.
"People camped out overnight in their sleeping bags," he remembers.
"The lines snaked around the quad."
Those days -- and the lines -- are now history. Today, students get
their classes through Gator Reg. Several weeks before the semester begins,
they are given a priority time period to register either online or over
the phone using the telephone keypad. After their scheduled time, they
can add or drop classes electronically during a generous open registration
Through SFSU's online class schedule, students view courses by discipline,
time, location, size and instructor. As classes fill, they can even
see how many seats remain in a particular class and make registration
Ferguson thinks Gator Reg is SFSU's best tech innovation -- not surprising,
since he is the University's assistant registrar. He oversees SFSU's
One Stop Student Services Center where students come to take care of
a range of school-related business. "There may still be the occasional
line," Ferguson says, "but it's nothing like the old days.
A Good Seat
Linda Vegher is one of 933 students in Marketing 431, but she never
worries about finding a seat in class.
Vegher is in Professor Bruce Robertson's "Introduction to Marketing,"
which uses streaming-video technology to teach registered students.
Those who wish to attend Robertson's lecture on Tuesday and Thursday
mornings meet at 9:30 in a classroom on campus. The vast majority, however,
go online for the class. Each lecture is videotaped, archived and remains
accessible 24/7 throughout the semester.
A senior in industrial design, Vegher finds the online class convenient.
"The experience is virtually the same, except that you can fast
forward the parts you understand or pause and replay the parts you don't,"
Students have to attend the first class and take the final exam on campus.
Otherwise, they can take the class entirely online.
Since Robertson began teaching the course three years ago, enrollment
has more than doubled. In an era of declining state support for higher
education, distance-learning classes can be cost-effective. Currently
only a handful of SFSU classes are taught entirely online. But hundreds
use at least some component of online teaching. Faculty may post their
course syllabus, lecture notes and downloadable reading guides online.
Students can go online to interact with their professor and other students,
take quizzes or check their test grades.
"I like that you aren't restricted to a certain time to go to class,"
Vegher says. "I wouldn't want to take all my classes this way,
but this one definitely works for me."
Getting the Grade
Niño Rey Barredo finished his last exam on the Monday of finals
week. Commencement was that Saturday. The senior psychology major was
busy planning the details of a big family graduation celebration, but
not too busy to go online to see if his grades had been posted.
Good news. All but one of his grades appeared on the MySFSU Web site.
He liked what he saw.
Gone are the days when students had to wait weeks for their grade report
to come in the mail.
"Sometimes the grades are posted online the same day as the exam,"
Barredo says. "It's very cool."
"Web Grades are a blessing for both faculty and students,"
says Julien Wade, professor of finance. "As soon as a professor
finishes grading the final exam, he or she can determine course grades
online and post them from any computer.
"Most alumni can recall the post cards they left with their professors
the day of the exam, hoping the instructor would remember to send them
back with the student's grade," Wade says. "Now an exchange
student returning to Germany after final exams can get course grades
at the same time as a student living in Daly City, via the Web, and
far more quickly."
It is Saturday, commencement morning. A nervous Barredo makes one
last check to see if the elusive grade has been posted. Not yet.
The grade finally appears after commencement. Although it's not quite
what Barredo had hoped to see, the new graduate is relieved: "I'm
just glad I don't have to worry anymore!"
How has technology changed life on
campus for you? E-mail your examples: firstname.lastname@example.org