University to drop printed course catalog

Online-only catalog will save money and link schedules and evaluations.

By Tiffany Young

The University plans to get rid of the hard copy of the course catalog next fall in favor of an online version.

The course catalog is currently available online in PDF format, while time schedules and add/drop are each on separate sites. The new online catalog will link course descriptions, time schedules, and add/drop into one streamlined site, according to Michael Jones, associate dean of the college.

“We’re prepared to give up the convenience of flipping through the paper if we can have this better online linking of all the information,” Jones said. “Eventually, we’d hope that a student could click on a course in time schedules and get a course description and course evaluations.”

“The catalog was out of date before it even hit the press,” University registrar Gabriel Olszewski said. “Students were going online to get their information and I kept hearing feedback that students wanted a good, online course site.”

“Tens of thousands of dollars” were spent printing hard copies, Jones said, even after the decision six years ago to publish every two years instead of annually.

Olszewski said he received opinions from Student Government leaders, students, and NSIT staff who were largely in favor of better online access to course information, including second-year Annie Considine, who said, “It would be good to know if a professor drops a class right away, instead of planning for it the whole year.”

Others don’t want to see the catalog go, however. “It makes me a little sad. I remember getting this brick of a thing when I was just a first-year coming to the school and it was really exciting to have this material object to look through,” third-year Alex Dulchinos said.

For college advisors, a refurbished online system would be convenient on a day-to-day basis in addition to providing dynamic, frequently updated content. “It would be easy to send a link via e-mail to one of my students, or to cut and paste a piece of text,” adviser Brian Want said.

Olszewski said the University has considered ending production of hard copies of the University course catalog for years, as various divisions began moving courses online.

“Historically, there were seven different announcements on campus, for the college, for the graduate divisions, and for the different professional programs. But now most all of them have made separate decisions to transition to the Web,” he said.

Olszewski said the “Course Combo Suite Project” is underway; he has been in several meetings, including ones with online catalog vendors, to facilitate a more efficient, greener way to access catalog information.

But connecting the separate time schedule, registration, bidding, and evaluations sites will be a challenge, Olszewski said. “Because we’re redeveloping six different Web sites, we know it has to be a phased implementation, but we hope to get new feedback from students early next year.”