This article contains responses to common questions related to the use of preferred names in Terra Dotta Study Abroad.
1. My institution's student information system (SIS) has fields to support "Preferred First Name", "Preferred Middle Name", and "Preferred Last Name". I would like to display this information in Terra Dotta so that preferred names have more visibility. What options to I have?
This request can be achieved by:
- Making changes to your SIS integration so that "Preferred First Name", "Preferred Middle Name", and "Preferred Last Name" are mapped to populate in the core name fields of "First Name", "Middle Name", and "Last Name" in the data file sent to Terra Dotta; and,
- Adding custom parameters for "Legal First Name", "Legal Middle Name", and "Legal Last Name".
With these changes, an applicant's preferred names will appear in the application header. The custom parameters can be modified so that they are not visible to students, or they can be moved further down the list of profile parameters by adjusting the ordinal number.
- After these changes have been made, your site's signature documents will display preferred names (and not legal names) in the application history logs as this feature uses the data populated in the core name fields.
- If applicants are able to add or modify their preferred name in your institution's SIS, then this could result in admins having a more difficult time locating these students by name in Terra Dotta if the preferred name changes often.
2. In the option provided in FAQ #1 above, what would happen if a student didn't have a preferred name on file?
The core name fields of "First Name", "Middle Name", and "Last Name" must have a value or else they would display as blank at the top of the student's profile (since it would now be the preferred name values from your SIS populating these fields).
We recommend discussing this scenario with your campus IT department. It might be possible for them to build in logic to populate these core name fields with legal names if preferred names are blank values in the SIS.
3. If I create new custom parameters as part of the process to support preferred names in my Terra Dotta site, how does this action impact applicants?
Applicants that are no longer active and are not in your SIS refresh will not have data from the new parameters pulled into their profiles. Only future applicants and those who are currently active will have data from the new parameters populated in their profiles.
4. We've decided that we want to follow the process outlined in FAQ #1 above and make changes to our SIS integration. What are our next steps to take?
Identify the person on your campus (usually in your IT department) who will work with Terra Dotta on this request, and let them know that someone from Terra Dotta Support will be reaching out to them.
Next, provide our Support team with the name and email address of your IT contact. An email containing instructions will be sent to them, which resembles the following message:
Here is an overview of the project:
STEP 1) We will need your IT to send a test file via the SSH connection with the new data structure. It is very important that the file is structured in the exact same way as it is currently, with all the same column header names in the same order, and that the new columns be appended to the end of the existing structure. The test file must be named something *different* than your SIS data file, such as CLIENTIDENTIFIER_sis_user_info_new.txt. This is a test file, but it should contain live user data because it will be loaded into your site’s live user Datasource during this project.
After your IT sends the test file, we will make changes on our end and then we’ll need your IT to start sending the new file format, with the original filename, during the nightly routine. Your IT should send the test file only when they are prepared to put that new structure into production once we respond with confirmation that the changes are completed on our end. Timing is important in this procedure to avoid errors in the data refresh. Your IT should be prepared to make the change to your scheduled upload as soon as we notify you (same day). Please do not send the daily file in the new format until we have confirmed that we’re ready for it. This first step is only to send a test file.
STEP 2) Once the test file has been sent, please send a comment to let me know the name of the file, the exact name of the new column header(s), and the ‘"friendly" name that you would like to use for the applicant parameter(s) on your site. For example, the column header name in the SIS file might be "LEGAL_FIRST_NAME" but the applicant parameter that appears to users on your site might be "First Name (Legal)".
STEP 3) We will make the necessary changes on our end and notify you via a case comment when those changes are complete. One of these changes will include enabling the force core refresh so that existing, active users are updated. At that time, your IT should adjust the processes on their end so that the new file format is sent with the original filename during the nightly routine beginning that same day. It is important that the file continue to be sent with the original file name even after you change the production format to match your test file.
Once all steps are complete, current and future applicants will have their preferred name (or legal name if they do not have a preferred name on file) appear as their "core" name in Terra Dotta. The legal name will appear in the additional profile information area only and can be configured to be displayed to applicants, or hidden from them, depending on your preferences.
Let us know once the test file has been placed in the SSH folder.