March 8, 2011

ScheduleSpy keeps an eye on cMore openings

Trying to grab that last spot in that visual language class you need to graduate? Thanks to two second-year web developers, there’s an app for that., a website created by South Campus Residence Hall roommates Paul Kaplan and Sean Clemmer, aims to change the add-drop system.

The website allows students to receive an email update when a spot becomes available in a previously full class on cMore. According to Clemmer, users receive an email 30 seconds after another student drops the class and a spot opens.

With the tag line, “Class full? Get in first with ScheduleSpy,” the site allows students to stop checking for available spots on the U of C’s time schedules website. Kaplan already knows the website works—he used it to grab a spot in his Core biology class last quarter.

Next year, the pair plans to form an RSO with the aim of creating a “dialogue between the people working on the web on campus,” Clemmer said, pointing out that there is currently no centralized system for various types of data on campus.

Clemmer and Kaplan received $480 from the Uncommon Fund to support their web servers for two years, but they’re offering ScheduleSpy for free for this quarter. “This just means we get to keep doing what we like for free,” Kaplan said.

If the website became popular, students would need to race from their e-mail inbox to cMore before another student hoping to get into the class beats them to it. Students not using the program would be at a large disadvantage.

Still, the creators don’t believe the site will make the process unfair. “I don’t think there’s going to be a thousand people trying to get into a class,” Clemmer said.

Kaplan and Clemmer hope to expand beyond the simple website, which only requires students to enter the department, course and section numbers, and an e-mail.

Using the same programming method, called Application Program Interface (API), they have already designed similar codes yet to be released which can automatically calculate the costs of books per class and search the finals week schedule, which they created to showcase their proposal’s potential to the Uncommon Fund board.

The team plans to release them for free use to other University developers who can expand on the simple apps. “There’s ways to interface them. You can combine them with YouTube, Facebook and Twitter,” Clemmer said.

Their next goal is make researching courses easier for students by combining information currently on different websites: course evaluations, course descriptions and time schedules. Currently, a student must sift through three different databases to find out the various details on just one class.

“We’re finding data that’s public,” Kaplan said. “There is no reason you wouldn’t have access to it.”