Tele-BEARS, other campus sites to be absorbed by CalCentral by fall 2016

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Tele-BEARS will disappear in late March as the campus rolls out a new system through CalCentral that will integrate traditional campus student information sites.

Announced in July 2014, the new campus Student Information System will move information services — including admissions, enrollment, financial aid, course approval, schedule building, academic planning and advising — to CalCentral.

Such services currently operate independently through a constellation of smaller, decentralized websites such as Tele-BEARS, MyFinAid, CARS, DARS, BearFacts, ScheduleBuilder, and a variety of others. These sites will be integrated into and all functional system activities will be accessible on CalCentral.

According to Angela Blackstone, SIS senior project executive and associate chief information officer, all continuing students will use the new class enrollment system for the fall 2016 semester. Students enrolling in summer classes and UC Berkeley Extension programs will use the existing Tele-BEARS system.

Class enrollment will continue using the current Tele-BEARS phase format, but the project team is open to changing the phase system in the future, according to Maria Corzo, SIS project communications manager.

The new information system is an Oracle-based, large enterprise system that provides a common data element for a variety of campus websites. The new system will update data in real time, as opposed to the existing system, where some websites have more accurate data than others.

Blackstone explained that UC Berkeley will have more integrated registration, enrollment, advising and financial aid processes because there will be a central data store.

The SIS project team has been working closely with the ASUC and campus’s Student Technology Council to craft an interface that reflects the needs of students and campus administrators.

According to ASUC Chief Technology Officer Mihir Patil, the SIS project is advocating for the creation of an application programming interface, or API, to allow students access to campus information and data in a controlled way.

“With an API, student developers can create applications for the benefit of campus and can build their systems more easily,” Patil said.

Many of the systems being synthesized by CalCentral are outdated, including Tele-BEARS, which has been in operation for approximately 30 years. Many students and faculty members have experienced trouble with the class enrollment system in the past, and the program was identified as a “pain point” by the SIS project team.

“There are issues when you hit the back button, there are ghost units, there are a variety of loopholes that allow people to bypass waitlists and people can disenroll themselves from the university because it isn’t clear what to do,” Patil said.

Campus freshman Lukas Schwab said he found Tele-BEARS complicated and convoluted.

“As a new user, I certainly had a lot of trouble with it, and I heard other people were running into the same problems,” Schwab said.

As the March launch date approaches, students can look forward to using CalCentral more, and look back on the days when Tele-BEARS, BearFacts and dozens of ScheduleBuilder tabs defined their enrollment experiences.

“It might be a hard transition for students at first, but the incoming class of 2020 that will enroll for Fall 2016 will never know anything different,” Blackstone said.

Maya Eliahou is the lead student life reporter. Contact her at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @MayaEliahou.

A previous version of this article incorrectly quoted ASUC Chief Technology Officer Mihir Patil as saying that with the current Tele-BEARS enrollment system, there are issues of “ghost students.” In fact, Patil was referring to the issue of ghost units.