Modernity 101: The Virtual Registrar

By Sam Rauschenfels, The Dartmouth Staff | 2/1/11 12:25pm

The days of the ominous white "instructor permission card" will soon be over. A new online course selection interface will go live on February 9, according to Registrar of the College Meredith Braz.

"I think that [it] will please students," Braz said about the updates in an interview with The Dartmouth.

The add/drop process has been a notorious sore spot for students, but professors and students alike have often experienced issues.

The course add/drop procedures, which used to require a visit with a major department professor for a signed permission card and a wait in line at the office of the registrar, will now be completed online through the BannerStudent interface, Braz said. Students will no longer have to travel back and forth from the registrar getting cards signed, she said.

In addition to adding or dropping classes online, the new system will utilize a "prerequisite check" system, Braz said. This system will electronically confirm that students have met the necessary requirements for admission into a course before they can register for it, she said, adding that professors will be able to electronically override this prerequisite check and allow the student to register for the course if necessary.

"We're piloting with Biology and [Psychological and Brain Sciences]," Braz said, because those departments experience issues with prerequisites during registration and would like to be the first to test this part of the new system.

It's a similar story with courses that require instructor permission to register. Students can now obtain permission to take the course before registering through the site, after professors have placed an electronic permission notification on a student's record, Braz said. Students will receive a confirmation e-mail after professors give their permission, she added. All departments will use this pre-permission process.

The Banner system will display notification messages throughout the registration process, an addition students testing the new system particularly enjoyed.

"The feedback we've gotten so far has been very positive," Braz said.

Registration for limited-enrollment courses will change slightly with the new system as well. Students who do not get spots in capped classes will have a higher chance of placement the next time they attempt to gain access to the class, Braz said.

"We respect the priority engine that we're running," Braz said, noting that repeat application students will not be able to jump in front of others who have a higher priority based on departmental qualifications like major and seniority.

Braz said she is open to feedback and that she hopes the new system will be simple and easy.

"I think that we took the best of what Dartmouth had already designed ... and made sure to preserve those things that had been important," Braz said about the changes.

Sam Rauschenfels, The Dartmouth Staff