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The system that currently runs Penn InTouch is outdated with functionality from the 1980s, said Rob Nelson, executive director for Academic Technology and Planning.

Credit: Eric Zeng

A new course registration application will soon replace Penn InTouch by spring 2021.

The new registration system, called PATH, will have an updated interface and expanded academic planning worksheets. Advisors and professors will also see change to the way they notify students of academic issues under the new system.

The system that currently runs Penn InTouch is outdated and has functionality from the 1980s, said Rob Nelson, executive director for Academic Technology and Planning. Student leaders say the shift is much-needed and will improve the user experience when registering for classes.

PATH will have an app that allows students to plan their four-year academic path at Penn on worksheets. The new app integrates course registration and academic planning more tightly, Nelson said.

Whereas the current worksheet only allows planning for one semester, students can lay out their entire four-year academic plan in the future system.

“When you are choosing classes, you will be able to see them and think about them in terms of your overall academic plan, and vice versa,” Nelson said.

Replacing Penn InTouch is part of the Next Generation Student Systems project that started at Penn in 2015 to replace the old catalog and introduce a University-wide curriculum management system, Nelson said. The company Leepfrog Technologies will build PATH. 

The current Course Problem Notices and Course Absence Reports within Courses InTouch allow professors to communicate academic issues with students through advisors. The new platform will combine the problem notices and absence reports into one system.

Students in the PATH Advisory Group will also provide input to the University. The team of 12 students from the College of Arts and Sciences, the School of Engineering and Applied Science, and the Wharton School include representatives from different student groups, including the Undergraduate Assembly, Penn Labs, the Student Committee on Undergraduate Education, and the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly.

“We have had Penn InTouch for over 30 years,” UA President and College senior Natasha Menon said. “[The changes] are much needed. I am really glad that student input is an important part of the process.”

College and Wharton junior Daniel Gordon, a member of the PATH Advisory Group, said student voices on the new changes are important.

“The students have so much responsibility to help create this product for the next generation of Penn students,” Gordon said. “We have a unique ability to mark a change in the transition to a new system.”

“It’s a pretty universal feeling among Penn students that figuring out which classes to take, how to satisfy your requirements, explore new interests, decide on and fulfill your major, all in four years is a really daunting task,” said College sophomore Avni Ahuja, who is a member of SCUE.

In September 2017, Penn announced that Penn InTouch would be replaced by a new system by the end of 2020.