Future ACORN features: U of T students have their say at Street Fest 2017

New friends, new activities and a new school year were all part of UTSU’s Street Festival orientation 2017. And on September 12, students also voted on ACORN’s newest feature – helping to determine the future of the application that serves more than 75,000 users.

This year, over 10,000 students from U of T’s three campuses descended on the St. George campus, and 941 voted on how to improve the online academics, finance and student life service. With the sun shining and music pumping, the energetic ACORN team from Enterprise Applications and Solutions Integration (EASI) encouraged students to place a sticker on one of five potential features.

“I chose for the Next Steps Planner because it could notify me about important dates and deadlines and how they affect my schedule,” said Ezra Fleisch, an Arts & Science student. “I found ROSI, the old system, really slow and cumbersome. ACORN is much easier to use with drop down menus, and searching for courses has become a streamlined process.”

Voting board with stickers
941 students voted on how to improve ACORN during the five-hour event (photo by Alex Dault)

And the winning feature? With a rainbow of 444 multi-colored stickers, the Auto Enrol Via Cart won by a landslide. This function would attempt to enrol students in course sections that they pre-select in their enrolment cart. It was by far the most complex idea up for discussion and is now an intriguing option to consider.

Other features included live chat help, a next steps planner, U of T map integration and an improved invoicing system.

“I’m definitely voting for the auto enrol feature – it would save time and would be so convenient,” said Maria Vo, another Arts and Science student. “I already like the system because it easily shows my schedule and potential conflicts, but it’s great to try to improve it further.”

Part of ACORN’s UTSU Street Fest team: Mike Clark, Alex Dault and Stefanos Kythreotis (photo by Katie Babcock)

Gaining insight into the student experience was exactly what the ACORN and Next Generation Student Information Services team wanted.

“The UTSU Street Fest is a great opportunity to have face-to-face discussions with students, so we can learn what they like, dislike and what they’d like to see happen in the future,” said Mike Clark, manager of User Experience and Process Design at EASI. “The day was a whirlwind, and I want to thank the team – they brought great energy to the day and the level of engagement with students really helps us plan future areas to explore.”

What’s next for ACORN?

“We’re going to continue to improve the performance of ACORN on peak load days, include more personalization and create better integration with other services. And we’ll definitely be at Street Fest next year to gather even more student input!”

Thanks to this year’s UTSU Street Fest team:
Mike Clark
Alex Dault
Laura Klamot
Stefanos Kythreotis
Evan Moir