SENSE Online BETA Test Update

The SENSE Online system closed BETA test is now ending its third week and we wanted to provide everyone with a brief status update.  For those not familiar with the specifics of the SENSE Online system, please take a few minutes and read through the AWO SENSE page http://awo.aws.org/sense/.

Anyone who has experience BETA testing will tell you it is a unique experience. Even after six months of planning, design, development, testing, going back to the drawing board, redesigns, redevelopment, a second, third, and fourth round of testing, and even more planning, BETA tests eventually devolve into a chess match between the forces of order and Murphy’s Law. But in the end, this is an important and necessary step in the process. I wouldn’t buy a car without the assurance that it had gone through rigorous testing.

Over three dozen schools are currently testing the SENSE Online system and providing us with valuable feedback. Ultimately, they answer three critical questions for us: What do you really like about the system? What’s not working? What did we miss? While some days it seems that for everything thing that goes right, two go wrong , the stress we are putting on the system now will ultimately make it a much better tool when we open the online system to the 3,000 AWS SENSE programs  in a few weeks .

Figuring out what works and what doesn’t is critical, but knowing what we left out is just as important. The SENSE Online system is a tool for students, instructors, and school administrators, designed to make the SENSE system easier to implement and run, and provide the information and functionality that these groups need. Before designing the system we spent countless hours meeting with instructors and students, but even then there were many things we just didn’t consider. Here are some of the things we have added or will be adding based on instructor’s recommendations:

  • The SENSE Online system now supports online payments by instructors for individual students. The system will soon support multiple student payments simultaneously as well as payments by the school administrator.
  • The SENSE Online system now accepts credit card as well as school purchase orders as forms of payment.
  • We are currently exploring ways in which an instructor can have the system just email a student with the login information. In the design process, I think we may have overestimated the level of responsibility of some of our SENSE students. This should cut down on the “I forgot my login” problems that instructors will no doubt face with online testing.
  • New sections of the SENSE Online User’s Guide are now being written, including a general “Getting Started” section.
  • Students will only be able to graduate via the SENSE Online system if AWS has all the required information.

I would like to thank all the BETA schools for their patience as we resolve bugs in the system and give our most heartfelt thanks to Mike Anderson from the New Castle Area Career Program who as of this morning had identified (by my count) fourteen different bugs in the system, thirteen which have already been resolved. Based on the rate of testing and the new features we have been and will be adding to the system, I would expect to start rolling out the system live for non-BETA testers in three or four weeks. This of course will depend entirely on Mr. Murphy and his law…

David Hernandez

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