The Penn Course Review beta site has come a long way from pen and paper to smart search.
The site, which has been in beta testing since advanced registration last semester, has been positively received by students searching for classes during the advanced registration period.
According to PCR Editor-in-Chief College senior Michael Roberts, the site has only seen a few minor glitches.
With a new feedback system, the minor glitches have been fixed quickly, Roberts said, adding that they receive “daily feedback from students … which allows them to catch any errors in real time.”
Students can send feedback using a built-in Google form when they encounter a problem or error with PCR. This feedback is automatically compiled in a Google document for Roberts, his team and PennApps Labs to view. The site is jointly maintained by PennApps Labs and the PCR team.
Wharton and Engineering sophomore Sunny Shah said the new design is an improvement over the old one, because the “design is more intuitive,” citing the new smart search as a time-saver.
Similarly, Wharton junior Ryan Villanueva noted that PCR is very helpful because it is an efficient guide in providing reviews of classes he wanted to take. However, he thinks PCR “could be better integrated with Penn InTouch” so that students could more easily switch between the two.
Last semester, PCR erroneously switched the names of multiple professors in the English Department and drew the criticism of English professor and Department undergraduate chair Max Cavitch. Cavitch then emailed the English majors and minors listserv with his concerns about the site .
According to Amalia Hawkins, Engineering junior and marketing and operations lead of PennApps Labs, this mistake was due to confusing course labels in the English Department.
Since Cavitch’s complaints, there have only been small mistakes, Roberts said, such as listing the incorrect year that the course is offered. The biggest mistake encountered this semester has been listing the wrong professor’s name for a class.
“Like many other instructors and administrators, I remain concerned about the persistence of corrupt data, and we will continue to monitor PCR and the performance of the PennApps Labs,” Cavitch wrote in an email.
The beta testing stage has been a time for the development team to work out glitches and problems with the site. According to Hawkins, the site may move officially out of the testing stage by the beginning of next semester.
She added that PennApps Labs is also hoping to implement new features, such as a better user interface and a function to sort courses by department.
Four years ago, PCR looked like “someone scanned a paper review and posted it to the internet,” Roberts said.
Since then, the site has gone through multiple iterations. The new PCR makeover marked the first drastic change to the website in years.
Roberts wants to continue evolving the site. “The goal of Penn Course Review is to give an overview of the course that is not filtered through the University,” he said.
He wants students to “go on the website and feel like they are sitting with a fellow student that is there helping them understand what the course is all about.”
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