Changing of the Guard- Communicating ACORN to the University

In just a few short weeks, students at the University of Toronto will be introduced to ACORN, the Accessible Campus Online Resource Network. For students, ACORN will replace the existing ROSI Student Web Service (SWS). ACORN will provide a more convenient, personalized and guided experience for students using U of T’s online services.

Given the large-scale nature of this change, which will affect all three U of T campuses, we have worked very hard to get the word out to staff, faculty and students at the University. The last thing the team wants is for registrars or staff to feel surprised or worse, blindsided by the new service.

To achieve this, a wide array of activities have been undertaken by the team to reach out to the three campuses regarding ACORN. These activities have been both online and off; including staff training sessions, listserv e-mails, meetings with divisional representatives, a U of T conference presentation, a preview site and Q&A site for students, and an online resource kit for staff.

One of the most effective activities has been the hour-long ACORN staff training sessions, which saw a record turn out from staff joining us from a variety of perspectives including Registrar’s Offices, academic planning, academic advising, Dean’s offices, IT and Student Life staff. An extra four sessions had to be added on to accommodate the more than four hundred staff who came out to learn more about the ACORN service.

Communicating the news about the new service has been a careful balancing act. NGSIS is wary about “over-selling” ACORN, despite the enthusiasm we’ve heard to date from students and staff involved in the project and our own high hopes for its success, as there is always the risk that problems with the service will require that it be taken offline, and in anticipation of this remote possibility, the team has worked to strike a tone of ‘modest confidence.’

We are even offering students the option to opt-out for the time being and continue using ROSI-SWS.

We have been inspired by the interest and engagement of our students and staff community and very much look forward to our upcoming launch date.

Quick Numbers:

• 400+ staff attended training sessions

• 12 training sessions held

•35 student beta testing participants

• 100+ staff signed up for functional testing