ISIS in need of improvements, redesign

By EDITORIAL BOARD

With course registration around the corner, we’re all in a frenzy to make the perfect spring schedule.

A new web application called Semester.ly was recently released and advertised to Hopkins students as a platform on which to plan their schedules. Semester.ly boasts both a user-friendly interface and useful features, which shine in comparison to the Integrated Student Information System (ISIS) and its many problems.

All University students must use ISIS, if only for registering for classes twice a year. Despite the frequency and breadth of its use, ISIS is neither user-friendly nor modern. ISIS’s abundance of seemingly small problems accumulate quickly, often aggravating students.

ISIS times out after a remarkably short period of time. Although students’ security is necessary to protect, the period of inactivity is much too short, often causing students the hassle of logging back in to begin the process all over again.

Additionally, when searching for classes by course number, ISIS requires students to type the entirety of the formal course code and is unable to find partial matches. Each time students want to search for a course, regardless of how many they have previously searched for, each time they have to revert back to the original search page and begin a brand-new query from scratch.

Courses that are cross-listed among multiple departments are sorted in a convoluted manner, because the organization is solely dependent on the numerical order of the courses’ primary department. When searching by department, courses cross-listed with a certain department do not show up until after the numerous pages of internship and research listings. Many students are unaware of these courses because after clicking through page after page of research listings, they either give up or assume that is all there is.

And once students have chosen certain courses, ISIS’s calendar function often glitches and does not allow students to easily compare multiple sections of the same course, because the system treats different sections as entirely separate courses.

Semester.ly addresses many of these problems with an elegant and easy-to-use design. On the application, all of the important modules — searching for classes, viewing class descriptions, adding or removing classes, and viewing the current schedule — are located on a single screen without being overwhelming or crowded. Semester.ly is equipped with a few unique tools, allowing students to tailor their preferences in building a schedule: long weekends, free mornings and free nights. It also allows students to choose whether or not their schedules can be built with conflicting courses, allowing for more flexibility of use. Finally, the application allows students to switch among different sections of a course and compare them in their schedule, a tool that can be turned on and off for each course with a small lock icon.

Despite Semester.ly having so many useful and creative features, it is well-designed enough as to not require direction or explanation. The platform is intuitive and easy to use; Semester.ly is loaded with the entirety of ISIS’s course listings without students even having to log in.

Semester.ly is one of many course scheduling sites that exist, many of which were built by students similarly frustrated with their own schools’ systems. We hope that the University takes a page from their books and devotes time to improving ISIS, by fixing the little irritations and adding the new features above, and after soliciting more input from the student body. (One feature that students often wish for is better access to course evaluations, maybe integrated with ISIS.)

Course registration is an important part of students’ interaction with the University and should be treated as such. It’s one of the first University sites that incoming freshmen have to navigate and a site that all students will have return to throughout their educations here. A bad interface and insufficient system makes the process of registering for classes less enjoyable.

With the complete redesign and relaunch of the University’s main website last year, it is clear that we posses the abilities to create a more streamlined, user-friendly interface. The University should give ISIS the same treatment and prioritization as it did the University’s main website to provide a more pleasant experience for students.

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