Editorial | Penn InTouch needs input

Administrators have made changes in the past, so let them know what you want

· September 28, 2006, 5:00 am

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Last week, administrators in the University Registrar's Office were sent scrambling by a novel innovation: Class Buster.

The student-made service allows students to circumvent the online registration process by signing up for a text-message alert whenever a free spot becomes available in a desired class. At a school where classes don't even have official waiting lists, the program offers a much easier way to get into classes than the current system.

Before Class Buster, if students wanted to add a currently full class, they would have to sit in front of their computers, hitting refresh on Penn InTouch until a spot opened up.

And while Class Buster has its faults - such as forcing students to divulge their logins and passwords to the Penn Web site - it showed just how much students want changes to the system. When a student has to spend hours or days designing software to simplify the process, there's obviously a problem.

Signing up for classes should be as easy as possible, especially at a school where tuition increases by more than 5 percent a year. Instead, we have a cumbersome process that doesn't allow for much flexibility after pre-registration ends.

Luckily, the University has shown willingness to change in the past. According to Robin Beck, vice president of information systems and computing, both the voting system and the ability to change privacy settings are student-suggested additions.

And from a modern interface that doesn't scream "1997" to a waiting list, there are plenty more improvements to made to Penn InTouch. By e-mailing intouch@isc.upenn.edu, students can suggest additional changes.

As Class Buster shows, reasonable solutions to Penn InTouch's problems are available. It's up to students to let administrators know what they are.

Suggesting class-opening notices via e-mail - or text message - would be a great start.

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