CD-ROM will help incoming freshmen adapt

by Joe Carlson

Incoming freshmen who’ve never set foot on campus will know where to pay tuition and how to make appointments at Boynton Health Service if a new program goes as planned.
Administrators and programmers in Academic and Distributed Computing Services unveiled an early version of a CD-ROM package Wednesday containing much of the information freshmen need to navigate the University.
“They could go out and find information about orientation on the Web, but this brings it to them,” said Tina Westphal, a coordinator in University admissions.
The two-disc set is the digital equivalent of the Gopher Guide, except with more information and QuickTime animation. The first disc in the program contains information about personal finances, health care, academic services and other subjects of concern to new students.
The second disc contains everything students need to get wired, including Netscape Communicator and Pop Mail.
Computing Services Director Shih-Pau Yen said although the program is aimed at incoming freshmen, the information it contains could be useful to any University patron.
“I’ve been here for 30 years, and I didn’t know everything in here,” Yen said, adding that the discs will probably be available for other students in coming years.
Program designers recommended students have 16 mb of RAM and a 4x-speed CD-ROM drive. PC users should have a Pentium chip running Windows 3.1 or better; Macintosh users should have a PowerPC running Mac OS 7.5 or higher.
Yen estimated that about 85 percent of incoming freshmen will own or have access to computers. A recent study of 450 incoming freshmen in General College agreed with that figure.
Administrators plan to send out between 6,000 and 8,000 copies of the program. Yen said in total, the project cost about $55,000, including programming, production and postage.
The project began in March after Yudof asked the computing department if getting new students onto the Internet earlier was possible. Three months later, his animated image appears on the disc.
Upon inserting the disc, freshmen are greeted by a big, yellow University “M,” followed by a short monologue by Yudof, who freshmen will soon learn is the University president. The screen then becomes a menu to access the disc’s contents.
Students with questions can click on an animated young woman in the corner of the screen who will explain the program.
“It’s to help the transition from high school to college,” said Roxanne Rockuam, a coordinator in University admissions, “and to help them feel like they’re a part of the community before they even get to campus.”