Your voice of reason at Paris-Saclay
As we have reported before, the founding members of NewUni have drafted a document that is known as the GoodUni-document. This document lays the foundations for the new university project. It introduces a revolutionary new way of planning such projects: Instead of first accepting students and then worrying about the infrastructure, the document proposes to first put in place the infrastructure and then start accepting students.
For the digital infrastructure, the document proposes a very concrete solution. It explains that a new type of software will be written for the NewUni partners. This software is a type of Google Sheets, where every cell can be read and edited only by specific people. Consider, e.g., a sheet that contains the grades of the students (shown on the right). Every lecturer can edit the column with the grades of their course — but not the other columns. Every student can read the row of their grades — but not the other rows. The study inspector can see all grades of all students in all courses.
Another spreadsheet, which contains the final grades of the students, can be read by the students, but edited only by the jury. This spreadsheet is also shared with the study coordinators of NewUni. Thus, they can see the grades of all students — without the need to transfer any data anywhere. The same applies to the study coordinators at Paris-Saclay, if they are involved in joint study tracks. The traceability of the data is ensured by enforcing logins before modifications, and by keeping a complete version history.
One of the features of the system is that anyone can create and share such spreadsheets — much like anyone can create Google Spreadsheets. Therefore, it can handle not just course grades and diploma grades, but also application opening dates, course evaluation modalities, HCERES evaluation questions, course evaluations by students, course schedules, course enrollments, validation of teaching hours, vacation requests, refund forms, and travel requests — since in the end, all of these are all just shared spreadsheets with access rights. Dr. Naibaf, one of the co-inventors of the system, remembers:
Before, we were too focused on Synapses, and we believed that we had to extend it until it supports all desired functionalities. We did not see that there was a more general need for a tool to share tabular information. Therefore, it was quite enlightening when we found that most applications are just shared spreadsheets with access rights. We do not need separate software implementations for these — let alone paper forms.Thus, there will be no more sending around of Excel sheets at NewUni. The new software will be operational by the end of 2018, and will replace the existing systems in the course of the next years. Dr. Naibaf is happy: “Finally, Télécom ParisTech can contribute a digital dimension somewhere”.
See what other changes GoodUni brings!