Banner progressing with conversion

Kim Brown

System behind FlashLine to undergo final change this spring; 130 million records will be converted

Students, faculty and staff can expect to see Banner changes this semester in financial aid, transcripts and grading as conversion continues toward easier student accessibility.

Banner is the premiere software system running FlashLine, and progress since the October “go-live” Web launch continues with easier and quicker student information processing while using FlashLine.

In the past, changing student information such as an address, course registration or transcript details required several processes. The Banner system now connects all links for easier information transfer and availability.

However, data transfer and system processing issues have occurred in the conversion.

Banner student technical lead Barb Boltz said slower processing and system outages are a few issues the department has encountered.

“I think it’s going as expected for a large conversion,” she said. “There’s still work to be done, but it’s more on the smaller scale.”

Taking Care of Business

As changes continue, student needs are being met for better self-service in FlashLine.

“The biggest difference is we’ve been on Web for Students taking care of their needs,” Roberta Sikula-Schwalm, Enterprise Resource Planning executive director, said.

ERP is the administrative system running Banner, linking the entire university organization together, according to its Web site.

Sikula-Schwalm said the advantage to Banner is that services are now available at all times, and everything is linked with one database feeding off the same information. She said information is more timely on the student and processing ends.

Boltz said clean-up from the last system outage is still occurring, but there are no expected outages this semester because all records have been converted.

Student Financial Aid Change

“Pete” Goldsmith, vice president of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs, said the department has had an impressive conversion time table with Financial Aid being the last area to go live this spring.

Boltz said there is not an expected outage for the final conversion because students’ financial aid history has already been transferred. She said Financial Aid will be able to start processing award winners for the current year after the conversion is complete.

She said Financial Aid will begin processing award letters in Banner, first sending letters to a few students to make sure the process works. Incoming freshmen and then returning award winners will receive letters in about the same time frame as last year, Boltz said.

Transcript Change

Banner and the Admissions Department are working toward printing transcripts out of Banner. This process should be completed within the next couple weeks, Boltz said.

Students will be able to view their transcript through Banner once processing is completed.

Boltz said by next fall, a state mandate requires transcripts be sent electronically. This will speed up transcript information and credit transfers.

Grading Changes

Midterm grading will be the first time faculty members grade in Banner, Boltz said. This process allows easier accessibility to student grades.

She said the department is working to eventually allow faculty to track a student’s final grade processing. This process will be available later this spring and completed by the end of the semester.

One change Boltz said students might not like is what is referred to as the “roll of term.” Students will no longer be able to view final grades on their unofficial transcript at the end of the semester until faculty “rolls” the grades. She said this gives faculty enough grading time because Banner processes differently than the old system.

“That will be a change that is definitely not as desired on the students’ part,” Boltz said.

If an instructor uses Vista grading, students will still be able to view grades before Banner posting.

WebCT Vista is a course organization tool for instructors, allowing additional class material, information and student interaction, according to the Vista Help site.

Looking to the Future

Sikula-Schwalm and ERP are working toward becoming a unified digital campus, with Banner being the core system. She said over time, ERP will add applications to Banner such as personnel action forms, grade changing and work flow processing.

Goldsmith said Banner also does self-reporting that allows users to pull up data more quickly.

“When we get it (Banner) in place and get it all done, we will have a very powerful system that should take us well down the road and be better for students in terms of self-service,” he said.

Boltz said Banner will also service and recognize Greek organizations and honor students.

“We’ll then be gearing up for next year to upgrade, but it should be giving us some functionality we’re looking for,” she said.

Sikula-Schwalm said conversion of around 130 million records is completed.

“There is a new functionality and work flow, and students need to make themselves aware,” she said.

Contact student affairs reporter Kim Brown at [email protected].