First-come, first-served precept and lab sign-ups were available through the Student Course Online Registration Engine for 150 courses this fall, as part of a University pilot program to centralize the course enrollment system and move away from the use of Blackboard for section enrollments.
This initiative, which was started last spring with 50 courses, has been in the works for two years, University Spokesperson Martin Mbugua said. It is intended to use SCORE to more efficiently centralize student information and managecourse evaluations, calendaring and other administrative tasks.
“The key change in this system is that [section enrollment is] all being done in one single enrollment system, which does not permit students to be enrolled in a course that is in conflict with another course,” Mbugua explained.
Mbugua added that the new system’s centralized management of all course enrollment data will allow for real-time updates of student course schedules, and it checks for conflicts for a smoother course and section enrollment process, which was not possible in the old Blackboard system.
The new system will be moving to its next phase in the spring semester, Mbugua said, when the SCORE-based section sign-up process will be made mandatory for all courses. Blackboard will remain in use but will no longer serve as a section assignment tool.
The current system of Blackboard allows two basic structures to the faculty for section sign-ups, Mbugua said, either to poll students and assign sections based on the poll or to just select times based on their own availability and allow students to choose from within those times.
Jeffrey Meier, head preceptor of PSY 300: Research Methods, one of the courses that used the new sign-up system this semester, noted that there were some differences in his experience using the SCORE system versus the old Blackboard system.
“With Blackboard, I would open up the sectioning tool, and students could then log in and list their preferences for courses, and then the tool itself would actually sort them into precepts,” Meier said, comparing Blackboard to the new sectioning tool. “My understanding is, with the new system, it simply lists the available precepts, and the students come and choose on a first-come, first-served basis.”
In addition, Meier said that he did notice a decrease in the number of scheduling conflicts that needed to be resolved, contrary to what he had expected under the new first-come-first-served sign-up system.
MUS 238 professor Simon Morrison, who is also using the new system, said that he also did not notice any problems arising from the new system, pointing out that the first-come-first-served system did not cause any scheduling issues.
While the new system gives more control to students and takes much of the work of scheduling out of the hands of professors and preceptors, HIS 379: The History of American Capitalism professor Jonathan Levy said, he has not noticed any changes in the number ofconflicts this semester compared to those of past years under the Blackboard system.
“At the end of the day, obviously everyone can’t always be accommodated,” Levy said. “But I try really hard to make sure that there are precepts available to everyone who wants to take the class. That was true in the old system, and it’s also true in the new system.”