Student class registration takes place online via the Lehigh Student portal under the Banner section. Coursicle is one of several online planning tools that allows students to create multiple schedule combinations for the following semester. (Courtesy of Joe Puccio)

Students adjust to new registration tools

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Registration for winter and spring courses starts Nov. 12. As the date rapidly approaches, some registration changes have made it difficult for students to plan their schedules.

Allen Taylor, the director of Technology and Campus Services, said Lehigh’s new registration system, through Banner, was created by a company named Ellucian.

“(Ellucian) regularly issues updates related to the different modules that we have,” Taylor said. “Earlier this year, they released an update for the registration module. We made that available to students in the spring of 2018 for fall registration.”

Before this update, students used other planning tools not directly affiliated with the university, such as the scheduling website EZ Semester. However, the switch to Lehigh’s new program led to issues with this site.

Last month, Tori Campbell, ’20, was upset to find that EZ Semester might be shut down due to the developer’s inability to access data needed to update the site. She brought her concerns to the Lehigh Class of 2020 Facebook group page on Oct. 26.

“Does anyone else use EZ Semester and find the Lehigh registration process on Banner confusing?,” Campbell wrote in the group. “Maybe if we all email the registration office they will provide the necessary data to this student so that he can continue running a process that makes sense and is easy to use.”

Campbell had used EZ Semester since the first semester of her first year and said it was simple and easy for students to use.

“You would just type in the subject and all of the classes would pop up, and you could plan your schedule online,” Campbell said. “Pretty much everybody used it.”

Jonathan Wu, ’17, the developer of EZ Semester, said the issues Lehigh students had with his site were tied to the switch to Lehigh’s new program, but it was not intentional on Lehigh’s end. Prior to Lehigh’s contract with Ellucian, one of the university’s departments hosted the system internally.

The way Ellucian hosted its data made it difficult for Wu to retrieve the information he needed to update the site.

With the help of Cody Benkoski, ’22, who works directly with LTS, Wu was able to get the site back up and running as of Thursday night.

However, before EZ Semester was accessible, users like Campbell were at a loss.

“I wasn’t really sure how to plan for next semester, so I emailed registration,” Campbell said. “They sent me links and videos to help me understand how to use their new registration process, but I think if you need videos to understand how to use something then it’s probably not that good.”

Campbell and other students searched for different ways to plan their schedules.

Coursicle, a course-planning program available both online and through an IOS/Android app, is an alternative some students have started to use.

The site was developed around 2013 by Joe Puccio to help students plan their schedules. He created the site while he was a student at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill along with Tara Aida, who graduated from Harvard University.

They later began refining the site based on user feedback, which included providing a quick and easy search for classes and a weekly schedule calendar view.

“One of the features that students have been enjoying is our Facebook login, which allows them to see what classes and sections their Facebook friends are taking,” Puccio said. “Our schedule planner has been really popular in Lehigh — just within the past two weeks over 1,500 new Lehigh students started planning their class schedule.”

As for other registration concerns centered around classroom space and availability, there simply is no perfect system, said Todd Watkins, a professor of economics and the director of the Martindale Center.

“The university is trying to balance the need for relatively small classes with a wide selection of opportunities for students and what you can register for and what time of day you can register for,” Watkins said.

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