May 20, 2003

University catalogs go online

University catalogs go online

In their push to emphasize online access to course information, administrators are slowly abandoning the printed versions of both time schedules and course catalogs that were once more easily accessible to students and faculty.

But the advance of online technology need not come at the expense of other useful ways of accessing information. The University has a history of aggressively promoting its new Web sites as easier alternative s to conventional means of communication while at the same time underestimating the number of people who will use the sites. Chalk and Webmail have in the past failed at critical times, such as during finals week and registration period, because of overuse or other glitches. In the event of a problem in the registrar's Web site, hard copies of time schedules could prove extremely useful.

If the University intends to eventually move the registration process completely online, it needs to first ensure that the Web sites will function properly and be dependable enough to handle a large volume of users. In addition, the sites should be more user-friendly than the current system: course descriptions, time schedules, and teacher evaluations should be linked together, making it easier to view all three while registering for classes and allowing students to make more educated decisions.