Updated course website offers revamped appearance, new functions
A revamped course listings website featuring a new layout and improved functionality went live last week to mixed reactions.
Due to a push for the course guide to be greener, Washington University felt that, after printing fewer and fewer copies of the physical book each year, it could finally be phased out but not without a major overhaul of the website.
The new listings are more spread out, with a description of each course a department is offering now included in the same window, rather than having each course name link to a popup description. It is now easier for students to add their favorite classes directly to the WebSTAC registration worksheet.
Associate Registrar Jill Fechtman was excited about the change, noting that fewer clicks would be involved in getting students the information they need in each step of the course selection process.
“The old course listings site was built in the mid-’90s. It was one of the first web applications that were built at the University. It sort of looked and felt like it was still in the ’90s. And so, just from a user perspective, [the old system] was tired,” Fechtman said.
Fechtman announced that grade options are now available for viewing even in the search process, which was previously unavailable until a student was actually registered for the course. This will allow students to have access to information about pass-fail versus for-credit-only courses before they are essentially locked in to their choices.
Many of the new aspects of the course listings site are available publicly, but when students log in with their WUSTL key, they are given access to a few additional features, such as the option to favorite courses they like by clicking a star icon next to the name of a course. Students can view courses they have favorited either all at once or by semester.
Additionally, instead of typing the course code into the worksheet, students can click “Add RWS 1st” or “Add RWS 2nd” to add a course to their first- or second-choice worksheet. The registration worksheet and class schedule are now also available within the course listings website.
There continues to be a “search by attribute” feature as well as a “search by time” feature. Most of the website is still the same; the new version simply has a new feel to it. The course listings are still updated in real time, so students will have immediate access if a new section is opened or a description is updated.
Even so, small changes have been made. Listings are now sorted by course rather than by section, which should shorten the list view, streamlining the process. Both expanded and condensed views are available, showing or hiding the course description and attributes, respectively.
Student feelings toward the changes were mixed.
“I think the new listings are nice because they allow people to scroll past some of the classes and see right away what they’re about, since sometimes the titles of the classes can be misleading,” junior Hansika Narayan said.
Junior Anna Rossi dislikes the new arrangement of the course catalog, saying it makes looking at all the options more difficult.
“It’s not as easy to gauge all of the classes as it used to be,” Rossi said. “I think I liked it better when it was just the title instead of all the information because it’s easier just to see the title and then click if you’re interested. I had the hardest time figuring out how to find the course description on this system.”
Features that are not yet available include a “search by professor” option as well as an option to specifically view open or closed courses.
“We’re constantly working and tweaking, making small, incremental changes when someone notices that something slipped through the cracks or isn’t working properly,” Fechtman said. “We can typically fix these small issues within a day or two.”