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Class registration gets an upgrade

Amanda Gray | Friday, September 11, 2009

Notre Dame’s Office of the Registrar, student government and Office of Information and Technology (OIT) are working together to update and redesign the course registration process, said Walker Anderson, student government Campus Technology chair.

“Last year, we brought up course registration redesign,” Anderson said. “We discussed it with OIT and the Registrar’s office. We want to identify what’s wrong with the current system.”

Assistant Registrar Lora Spalding said the Office used student testing as a tool to identify issues with the program.

“There has been a test group of students who volunteered to let us watch and video tape them as they registered for their Fall 2009 classes,” Spalding said. “We also captured all their key strokes and interviewed them about their experience. Another student test group will be used to preview and give suggestions to developers from our software provider.”

A committee was put together to analyze the data, Anderson said.

The major problems found with course registration are selecting classes, appointing fair registration start times, finding information on course evaluations and syllabi and fitting everything into a workable class schedule, Spalding said.

“We are always looking at ways to make registration an easier and more intuitive experience for students and so as software upgrades or feasible suggestions come forward, we are always ready to fit them into a redesign,” Spalding said. “Some of the redesign may be small improvements, but some, because of the upcoming software upgrades, may be larger.”

Some improvements have already been added, Spalding said.

“Most of the fields in ‘Class Search’ can be sorted – this helps to find, among many other uses, open classes and instructors,” Spalding said.

If students are looking for information about a specific class, some of the results from the course evaluations are available as part of ‘Enhanced Class Search’ results.

Additionally, based upon a student government initiative, the Office of the Registrar and OIT are working on making class syllabi available through ‘Class Search.’

Spalding said changes that will involve tools to help fit a schedule together should occur sometime next summer.

Some of the inspiration for new updates came from other schools, Anderson said.

“We’ve looked at [the University of Minnesota] and we want to look at Northwestern, among others,” Anderson said.

Major changes could be anywhere from six months to a few years away in this long-term initiative, Anderson said.

“We’re still analyzing our current system,” he said. “We have an idea of providing a more intuitive, streamlined and innovated way of taking the stress out of the course registration process.”