In their daily compulsive inspections of the Lawrenceville website to find their schedules, teachers and, most importantly, housemates this summer, students were not greeted by the familiar login dialog of Parents’ Net, but instead were introduced to the newest addition to the incessant Lawrenceville technological updates– the Veracross School Information Management System.
A holistic software designed to encompass data from all aspects of campus life, Veracross provides students, faculty and parents with separate “portals” to access information such as student schedules, housing details, and class resources.
The Veracross system incorporates many of the functions previously handled by the Lotus Notes technology, including services such as Blackboard and Faculty Email. The new database is intended as possibly a future replacement of Lotus Notes, which has served as a fixture of academic technology at Lawrenceville for over 15 years.
Identifying limitations in this age-old Lotus Notes technology, Director of Information Technology William Freitas spearheaded the adoption of the Veracross system, citing its comprehensive services and convenience as justification for the switch. “Veracross offers a single unified database,” Freitas claimed, “so that when a change is made to, say, a student phone number in one part of the system, that change is immediately reflected across all the systems. This is not the case in Notes, which required some kind of intervention to move data between systems.”
The effects of the transfer to Veracross were perhaps most visible in academic life, as the office of Registrar and Assistant Dean of Academics David Laws applauded the change and began to regularly use the new system to handle grades, academic memos, and schedules. Regarding the impact of Veracross on the Lawrenceville education, Laws said, “A lot of different groups had their input– the Infirmary, Admissions, my office. We all collectively gave our pros and cons, and most groups realized that Veracross had so much more to offer.”
Laws did, however, admit that “All this confusion will be an issue for a while, until we successfully migrate everything to Veracross.”
Indeed, many students and faculty alike are very cross with Veracross, confused by the multiple technological systems on campus and longing for a single permanent solution to satisfy their educational needs. However, this transition, although currently not as smooth as most Lawrentians would like, is likely to be only temporary, as the administration claims it is modeling policy to provide students with clear instruction on how to access assignments and encouraging faculty to switch completely to the Veracross system.
Proponents of the new database, such as Freitas and Laws, remind us that technological updates such as the adoption of Veracross are inevitable and beneficial for Lawrenceville. The former of the two advocates labels Veracross as a “modern, mobile-friendly, web-enabled system with more bells and whistles than what we had before.” It will be up to the entire community to decide, however, whether Veracross lives up to this expectation.
- Shubhankar Chhokra ’14