Online scheduling turf war divides students

Cooper Josephs, Assistant News Editor

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Course registration has come to be yet again. While some may cherish course registration, for many it is stressful time of trying to figure out what courses they need to take and what courses they are able to take. Between browsing the courses offered, the times they are offered, what CCC requirements they fulfill, and the professors teaching the classes, there are many factors to think about when creating a schedule.

While the University has all the information necessary to create a schedule on BannerWeb, many students have difficulties fitting all the piecemeal information together.

“Students find the Bucknell system insufficient … Faculty don’t see a lot of the scheduling issues,” said Alan Marchiori, Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and advisee of Computer Science Engineering majors.

This registration conundrum has influenced the creation of two student-created online websites: ScheduleFast and No8am. Both try to help students schedule classes as effortlessly and efficiently as possible.

“I think the way they present the data is better … I don’t think it’s that difficult to make the schedules by hand, but if you are given a nice tool, people will use it,” Marchiori said.

ScheduleFast has already established itself within the University community. It has been around since 2012 course registration and was the winner of the University’s 2013 Business Pitch Competition, winning a $1,500 prize to kick-start the company. The website is used by approximately 60 percent of University students, according to ScheduleFast’s Chief Operations Officer Zach Crowley ’16.

Several new additions were added to ScheduleFast over the summer. The creators have expanded its user base and it is now available to five different schools.

“We wanted to ramp everything up … It is a completely new updated website. You don’t have to look at the Bucknell course directory anymore,” Crowley said.

The second website, No8am, was developed a bit later. Nadeem Nasimi ’17, a Computer Science and Engineering major, spent the summer writing the website’s code, which took a couple months and cost several hundred dollars.

“I really just want to recoup my costs for the server and domain costs,” Nasimi said.

Nasimi’s inspiration originated from frustration with ScheduleFast’s interface. His approach has a more simplistic layout than ScheduleFast.

“I’ve heard multiple stories of people whose schedule using ScheduleFast wasn’t right … ScheduleFast allows you to make invalid schedules by linking specific classes with incorrect lab sections,” Nasimi said.

Gaby Lagana ’18 said she would have had a very difficult time trying to figure out how to schedule her classes if it wasn’t for No8am.

“I really liked the website layout. It was colorful and gave me a good visual of all my classes … I liked the format of No8am much better,” Lagana said.

Nasimi advertised exclusively through posting a message on each class’s Facebook group.

“After that, people advertised for me and told their friends about it. The positive feedback I received about my website really fulfilled me,” Nasimi said.

Approximately a third of the University used No8am, Nasimi said. No8am has not affected ScheduleFast’s user base, Crowley said.

“It’s all about what saves the most time, and that probably varies from person to person,” Crowley said.

Some students don’t prefer either website. Duncan Botti ’17 says he still uses BannerWeb and makes his schedule combinations by hand.

“The school’s system is better. I think BannerWeb is way easier because it has all the information [like] course description [and] CCC requirements,” Botti said.

Students and faculty want to continue seeing more options out of scheduling websites, such as fitting courses to CCC requirements, long-term class schedule planning, and course selection based on the time of day. So far, the University has been conservative about partnering with either website.

“There’s no return on investment to provide a better scheduling tool. Will students be that much happier, and are more students really going to apply to Bucknell if they support this?” Marchiori said.

Also, if the University sponsors a website, it must be flawless. If a scheduling mistake occurs, it becomes the University’s fault.

“They expect the websites to fail,” Nasimi said.

Only time will tell which online platform, if any, will flush out the other.

“It definitely makes us aware we need to keep improving the site or we will fall behind. It’s all about trying to figure out what is most useful,” Crowley said.

Hopefully this friendly competition will force both websites to make improvements to the point that course registration becomes stress free.

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