Phone changes implemented over summer

Voice Mail Messages Accessible on Infoeagle

By Sandra Howe
Staff Writer

The University's upgrade of campus telecommunication and data systems this summer has added significant new capabilities, which allow Boston College employees to hear voice-mail messages on their computers and permit students to pay tuition by credit card over the phone.

In August, the University replaced its Meridian Mail system with DirectTalkMail and switched to a five-digit dialing plan. DirectTalkMail has integrated Boston College's telephone and computing structures, said Information Processing Support Personal Computing Systems Manager Jeanne Spellman, while the new dialing plan has simplified dialing throughout the University and increased the number of available extensions.

"The potential for new efficiencies and ways of doing business are vast," said Spellman. "These changes open up a new world of possibilities for communication internally and with students, their parents and Boston College alumni."

Besides offering voice-mail service, DirectTalkMail allows faculty to obtain complete distribution lists for their classes, which change automatically as students drop and add courses. It also has the potential to take information on the Boston College computer system and use it to generate automatic voice mail messages to deal with overdue library books or incomplete student loans, for example, Spellman said.

One of DirectTalkMail's new features, she added, offers users the alternative of reviewing and storing their voice mail messages on their computers through Netscape, the World Wide Web browser. By logging on to the InfoEagle home page and clicking on the "Communications Services" button at the top of the page, students, faculty and staff can follow a series of instructions to help them configure their Netscape application for voice mail.

To access messages, users enter their extensions and passwords, as they would on the telephone, and can view a summary of new, saved and outgoing voice mail messages. Users can listen to the messages on their computers, then save or delete them. Users retain the option of retrieving voice mail messages over the telephone.

Another of the system's new features allows families to obtain student account information and pay tuition over the phone with a credit card. The system is accessible via a national 800 number and provides nearly simultaneous responses to transactions, Spellman said.

The transition to five-digit extensions was smooth, according to Spellman, who said the change was necessary because the University was running out of telephone numbers in the "552" exchange. New technologies, along with new buildings and construction projects, all require more numbers, she said, so "this change allowed us to make significant advances without further complicating the phone system."

Using technology to improve service and promote efficiency reflects the aims of Project Delta, Spellman said, and more refinements are on the way. One currently being developed is a "unified mail box," which would give each member of the University community a single place on the World Wide Web to retrieve their e-mail, voice mail and faxes.

"We're taking information and streamlining the process of how we communicate with students and each other, eliminating some of the more tedious paperwork and increasing efficiency." said Spellman. "This system, and the others to follow, will help us achieve that goal."

Spellman encourages anyone still experiencing difficulties to contact the Help Center for assistance at ext. 2-2222 or check the World Wide Web site for more information.

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