By MICHAEL ANDREI
Published September 30, 2019
HUB Student Center, the primary student information and transaction system at UB, has been redesigned to provide students with a redesigned, user-friendly and intuitive experience.
The administrative core of every UB student’s university life, the HUB Student Center serves as the “home base” for everything the university does from a student services perspective.
The transformative upgrade was driven by a collaboration between the VP of Enrollment Management and the Chief Information Officer.
“Once a student is admitted to UB, they turn to the HUB Student Center, where they can receive financial aid, pay bills, enroll in classes, and more,” says Kara Saunders, Registrar of the University. “There are tools in HUB that allow every student to answer the question, ‘What do I need to do to graduate?’
“Through the HUB Student Center, students also receive and view grades and measure their progress. The Registrar’s Office then uses the other end of these tools to ensure that each student meets all requirements so that we can confer her degree,” she said.
HUB allows teachers to enter grades through the system. Students can add and remove courses, request transcripts, and request their degree.
“We schedule classes and provide whatever is needed to support these core activities,” says Saunders.
“If you were a college or university student 40 or 50 years ago,” says Craig MacVittie, application development manager, Enterprise Application Systems, “you still had to go to an office for these kinds of services. Whether you are enrolling in courses or receiving financial aid, any particular service you need would be right for you.
MacVittie explains that over the years, UB has moved to a more self-service oriented system.
“The model has two parts,” he says. “Back-office — administrative support — and self-service, where students interact with the system on their own. The recently completed HUB Student Center upgrade focuses on the self-service portion of the system.
“It’s probably 10% of the functionality of the HUB, and 90% of the transactions are there.”
An essential project
Saunders says the HUB Student Center has looked almost exactly the same since UB went live with HUB in 2011.
“Even before we did this, Oracle – which provides the software that underpins HUB – hadn’t updated this product, I believe, for about 10 or 15 years,” she says.
This is a much-needed project that has been in the works for months, adds Saunders.
“The upgrade was made possible by the vision, skills and efforts of many members of the UB community from across the university. We want to celebrate their hard work in making it a success,” she says.
“Obviously the HUB student center that people were using didn’t look or feel modern,” MacVittie says. “It was difficult to navigate and find what you were looking for, and even more difficult to access it by cell phone.
“And yet, 34% of student access to the HUB on opening day this year was from mobile devices,” he notes.
“We wanted to give our students a much different and much better experience. This upgrade will do that.
Saunders says mobile-friendliness “is really the main driver. But what’s nice about this achievement is that at the same time, we’re making it even more user-friendly on your tablet, laptop, or desktop.
Lots of student feedback
With the upgrade, the HUB Student Center is now a responsive design based on screen size, says Joe Rizzo, HUB Deputy Director and Student Systems Support.
“If you enter it on your phone, it’s one size fits all; a tablet looks a bit different and a desktop is an even better experience,” says Rizzo.
“The old model was not intuitive. Students told us that they kind of clicked and figured it out on their own. Now, when you first log in, you are presented with seven clearly labeled tiles. The before and after are quite convincing.
“If students want to add or remove a course, they click on “Manage courses”. If they want to pay their bill, they click on “Billing/Payments”. There is no mystery about it,” adds Rizzo.
“One of the strengths of why we did the project was that we wanted a lot of student feedback at every stage of the design,” says Saunders.
“When we started getting student feedback, ideas, and ideas, the first thing we did was ask students to use the HUB Student Center as it existed. We asked them to tell us, ‘What do they like about it? What don’t they like? What works?
Drew Colosimo, technical lead for enterprise application systems, says the team had the students try to come up with some things, and it soon became apparent that the original format wasn’t the best. experience.
“The difficulty in paying their bill stood out,” says Colosimo. “Most students struggled to figure out where to go in the system to get there.
“We focused on getting feedback on the classic student center – which is how the project referred to the original design – so when we solicited student feedback on the new system as we developed it, we made sure we didn’t introduce or postpone any of these kinds of issues,” he says.
Crystal Young, a second-year student in the master’s program in mechanical engineering, was among the students who participated in the focus groups for the HUB upgrade.
“In the year I’ve used the system,” says Young, “what I’ve found most annoying are the drop-down tree menus.
“So conversely, my favorite part of the new system is the tiles. Now all you have to do is pick the area you’re looking for, click on it, and all the menus are there for you. That does a big difference and saves time,” she says.
Anita Lin, a third-year architecture student, also participated in the focus groups.
“The new version of the HUB is really better organized,” says Lin. “I feel a lot more engaged with it. It is very accessible, unlike the old version, which was so often difficult to understand.
Juliette Mensah, a fourth-year biomedical science student, agrees. “You really had to look to find things, especially financial aid. I work at 1Capen, and we’ve had so many students take a special trip here just to get their financial aid because of the old HUB system. Now you just need to click on the tile.
Continue to improve the user experience
“We will continue to solicit student feedback, conduct ongoing feature review, and update as needed,” MacVittie says. “Even though we have this in place, it is not considered complete or finished.
“The new design allows us to continue to change and improve the user experience much more easily and consistently – which is important for everyone at the university who worked on this project,” he said. .
Saunders notes that the user interface is the main change. “But at the same time, we added new features to the system,” she says. “For example, people have been saying for years that we should have better contact information for our students, like emergency contact address, cell phone number, email and that sort of thing.
“In the old version of HUB Student Center, it was very difficult for us to create opportunities for students to ensure that they regularly reviewed and provided the university with all this information.
“This enhanced version that we are moving towards gives us the ability to request this semester by semester, to ensure that students review it, verify it, and update anything that needs to be updated,” it adds. she.
“With the upgrade, the process for doing so will become easier and more intuitive.”