Andover to Pilot Online Course ?Selection System in Spring Term

Students and advisors will soon be able to change their courses with the click of a button. Select advising groups will pilot an online course selection system next term that could be introduced to the entire school next fall, said John Rogers, Dean of Studies. According to Paul Cernota, Scheduling Officer, the online course system is “designed to take all the pieces of the advisor’s notebook and put them online.” The online program will notify students about problems with their schedules and inform students of course prerequisites and availability. The system is intended to make advisors’ jobs easier and more efficient, Cernota said. “[The system] will simplify some of the tasks of advisors and allow easier access to information,” said Cernota. “It will reduce the number of things they have to track on their own [and] help them produce course requests that represent realistic programs.” This system will require advisors to check in more frequently with their students, since advisors will receive email notifications whenever their advisees need to make course selections or changes. Cernota hopes that the new system will reduce course change requests 10 to 20 percent by removing all requests based on scheduling sheet errors. Online course selection will also help advisors keep track of students’ graduation requirements, said Cernota. Kevin Carey ’11 said, “The Course of Study book is confusing and vague, and seeing what counts towards your graduation requirements right in front of you will be very helpful.” But Cernota said that configuring the new online selection system is still a challenge. “It’s hard to convince a computer that you get one credit for a term of French 400 if you took French 300, but four credits if you took French 220. Computers don’t like things like that.” he said. Phillips Academy’s Technology Department designed the online course system for the particular needs of Andover’s students and faculty. “Online course selection shows that we are becoming a more progressive school,” said Malin Adams ’09, School President. “Students can change their courses with their advisors without needing to run to Dr. Cernota during their free periods.” According to Cernota, the duties of an advisor will not change with the new software because students will still need to meet with them to choose their courses. Cernota said he wants the advisor-advisee relationship to remain the same because the “conversations between students and advisors about [their] schedules [are] a vital part of the [course selection] process.” Adams, however, said that the new system would probably “change the dynamic” of the advisor-advisee relationship. He added that he hoped advisors could now focus their energy on staying up-to-date with their students’ courses instead of constantly worrying about changing schedules. David Stern, day student advisor and Instructor in` Chemistry, said he would probably end up seeing his advisees a little bit less because of the online system. Another advisor, Kathryn Birecki, Athletic Trainer, said she thought that the relationship would stay the same. “I hope advisors will still have at least bi-weekly meetings with their kids,” said Birecki. Byron Udegbe ’12 said, “[While the new system] might be more convenient, I can’t see it making that much of a difference.” David Fox, an advisor to Juniors and Instructor in English, said that the online system would not significantly affect his advisees. He said, “[Juniors] don’t have that many choices, [so] it will probably be more helpful and different for older students.” As for the advising process itself, Graham Miao ’09 said that it is “pretty sound” except for the “great disparity between good and bad advisors.” “I meet with my advisor pretty much every week,” Miao said. “But I know some kids who meet with theirs once a month.” Cernota said that faculty will examine the new graduation requirements for four-year students before deciding to make any changes to the advising program.