Online Course Selection Streamlines Course Changes, Reduces Environmental Impact

Students can now look forward to a more efficient schedule changing process, one of the many new features provided by the Online Advising System. With Online Advising, Department Chairs can grant course changes to students on the computer instead of writing notes or sending emails. Last year, students had to complete a form and obtain the signature of a Department Chair before making course changes. The new program, available to students on PAnet, will allow for speedier course selection and changes, said Paul Cernota, Scheduling Officer. Online course request sheets accelerate course changes and minimize the environmental impact, he said. The Online Advising System also has a feature that notifies students and advisors when problems concerning scheduling, course availability or prerequisites arise during the course request process. Cernota said, “The project gives students and advisors easy access to a lot of resources they did not have access to before.” In addition to using Andover’s Technology Office to develop the program, the school hired outside consultants to work on the system. Cernota said that specialists are not always needed for system development, but that the cost of the consultant was less than what it would cost to hire a full-time technology programmer for that project. “Rather than having a staff member versed in every possible program we use, sometimes we contract out work to consultants with specific skills,” he continued. Use of the system yielded mixed opinions from both students and advisors. Evan Hoyt ’11 said, “It was easier than the sheets you had to fill out with your advisor and had to carry to the Dean of Studies Office.” Alanna Waldman ’10 said that she likes the program because it provides necessary information during the course selection process. “You could type in English, and it would show all of the English courses, so it took very little time,” she said. Samantha Peloquin ’12 said that the complexity of the program made it difficult for her advisor to use. “It takes too long and is too complicated to do something so simple. Sometimes old-fashioned is easier,” she said. Emily Adler ’12 said that she and her advisor spent fifteen minutes trying to figure out the program. Some Seniors felt frustrated because the system did not allow students to enroll in more than one high-demand course. Audrey Adu-Appiah ’10 said, “You have to balance out your high-demand courses with other ones so it’s harder to change things around.” Scotty Fleming ’10 said, “It’d be nice to be able to have some sort of special option with notes so that it understands certain special situations.” Juliana Reider ’10 said the program had the benefits of being quick and easy to use, but could be improved regarding high-demand course selection.