EDITORIALS

  /  

February 20, 2009

cMore clearly

The muddled course-registration needs to be streamlined and modernized.

Oftentimes, getting through a day at the U of C is as much about enduring minor annoyances—the kid in class wearing a pirate hat, waiting 20 minutes at the C-Shop for the wrong order—as it is trying to have a profound academic experience. But when the minor annoyances get in the way of educational opportunities, the administration has a responsibility to step in.

The University’s online course registration system has reached that point. The sloppy patchwork of resources should be streamlined into a comprehensive, up-to-date portal that takes the guesswork out of registration, enabling students to make informed and intelligent bids for classes.

The primary problem facing the current system is that course information is not centrally organized, making it difficult to find relevant information. As it stands, students looking to pick and choose their classes are forced to navigate the seven deadly sites—cMore, cMore’s course registration offshoot, time schedules, department pages, course evaluations, Chalk, and the course catalog.

Instead, every class at the University should be given a comprehensive listing within cMore. In addition to standard information about when a class meets and who is teaching it, the listing should provide direct links to a description, syllabus, and course evaluations from previous quarters. The system should also list any departmental or Core requirements the class would satisfy. Course information then ought to be indexed to allow students to search classes by multiple metrics, such as department, time, ability to satisfy a requirement, and instructor.

The accuracy of the system is also a chief concern. The registrar should diligently update the listings to remove classes that have been cancelled, and departments should be required to provide comprehensive descriptions and syllabi for new classes before registration starts in eighth week.

An ideal system would also include a link to a student’s previous academic history mapped onto their academic program’s requirements. With a clear idea of what classes are needed for graduation and how they can satisfy outstanding requirements, students are less likely to make registration mistakes that can complicate their academic futures.

While students would surely rejoice in the implementation of a centralized course registration system, professors would have similar reason to celebrate. With more people making more informed decisions about their classes, the distracting bureaucracy of course drops and pink slips can be minimized at the beginning of each quarter, while those in attendance on day one would already know the expectations for the course.

The Editorial Board addressed this issue more than two years ago (“Integrate Course Selection Tools”, 1/12/07), but nothing has changed since. This necessary reform to the U of C’s system is far overdue.

The Maroon Editorial Board consists of the Editor-in-Chief, Viewpoints Editors, and an additional Editorial Board member.