Office of the Registrar to reintroduce NOVO as primary course registration system
Thomas Murphy | Monday, April 15, 2019
As Spring blossoms around campus and the semester begins its final stretch, students must now begin preparing to register for classes. This registration period, which is set to begin Monday, April 15, marks the return of the NOVO registration system, which the Office of the Registrar temporarily discontinued as the primary registration system following its malfunction in the Fall of 2017.
University registrar Chuck Hurley said the decision to reintroduce NOVO as the primary class registration system arrived after the University worked with Ellucian Banner, the system’s vendor, to fix key issues in the system.
“Last year we had issues, we contacted the company, they came out in the fall and gave a bunch of recommendations for it. They came back again in February and they delivered to Notre Dame a patch to update NOVO and also recommendations for database settings adjustments,” Hurley said. “Notre Dame input the patch, did the upgrade, and did the setting adjustments. We did load testing right before we did all that. There were all kinds of issues. Once we put in the patch, the update and the database adjustments, the locking issues were not there anymore.”
Following a system test performed by the Office of Information Technologies (OIT), Hurley said the Office of the Registrar has faith in NOVO.
“We have a very good level of confidence given the testing that OIT has done,” he said. “Once the patch was applied and the load testing was done, many of the database issues that we had seen in the past stopped, and those database locking issues was what was causing the problem within the product.”
While NOVO is being reintroduced to the registration process, the previous system, DART, will continue to be used. Hurley said DART has been available as an alternative since NOVO was first released in 2015, but he believes NOVO is the better registration system.
“DART is very simplistic, and in some ways it’s nice, you just put in CRNs and that’s kind of it there, but you can only see one error message at a time, it’s a little bit tougher to see your whole schedule,” he said. “The advantage of NOVO is that you have this grid that’s like a Google Calendar grid in it, so you can see exactly where courses can be added during days and times and what might fit your schedule. … Another big advantage of NOVO is that it shows you all error messages at the same time.”
Part of the Office of the Registrar’s faith in NOVO’s fix is it’s performance during summer registration in March. Still, summer registration involves only a fraction of the traffic that will be seen this coming week, Hurley said.
“Summer registration, we typically see a little over a thousand students come in in about a 24-hour period there,” he said. “ … For our registration periods of April here coming up next week, we have a whole class going on in one morning, so that’s about 2000, so you’re talking about 1000 versus 2000.”
The malfunction and hiatus of the NOVO system interrupted plans by the Office of the Registrar and student government to implement a registration feature called “ND Academic Planner,” which would have allowed students to register for an entire schedule with only a few clicks. Hurley said he does not expect this plan to be reimplemented until NOVO has proven itself to be a viable product.
“We had worked on that with student government and came up with something nice, and then we encountered these NOVO issues last year,” he said. “My position has been that we do not want to introduce the academic planner until we had a good NOVO registration and we had proven that everything was operating as we expected. … Once that’s there, then we can look at the academic planner, but the academic planner is integrated with registration, so we want to make sure NOVO is fixed.”
Hurley said he has several recommendations for those who wish for their registration experience to go well.
“Make several different lists of plans; make sure you have alternatives ready to go. Two, always check the restrictions on classes,” Hurley said. “ … Make sure you have met with your advisor. That’s very important that students are registering for the right classes to meet the requirements for their curriculum.”