Home » News » Ohio State spends $85K on online schedule planner tool

Ohio State spends $85K on online schedule planner tool

Ohio State’s new $85,000 Schedule Planner option aims to make registering for classes more convenient for students.
Unlike Schedulizer, a third-party website independent from the university that some students use to plan their classes, Schedule Planner is integrated with OSU’s existing course registration system. Rather than selecting individual sections of courses, as Schedulizer allows, Schedule Planner lets students choose which courses they need to take and in turn, will find the most efficient opportunities for students to take those courses. OSU’s new planning service has been available to students since October.
Students can find Schedule Planner in their Student Center on BuckeyeLink. They can then use it to export one of many potential sample schedules offered to them to their shopping cart when registering for classes.
Schedule Planner was developed by a company called College Scheduler, LLC. Robert Strazzarino, founder and CEO of College Scheduler LLC, said he conjured the idea for Schedule Planner during his own undergraduate career.
“It was my sophomore year of college and I was just making a schedule by hand …I realized there’s tens of thousands of possible schedules,” he said. “I can’t evaluate them all with pen and paper.”
Jack Miner, OSU senior associate registrar, said Schedule Planner was implemented due to student backlash toward Schedulizer’s inaccuracy.
“One of the issues students were coming to us and saying that they had was the information that website was providing was inaccurate,” Miner said. “We wanted to put a system in that would draw students away from other vendors that were providing bad information.”
Schedulizer uses general public records to create their database of classes. For this reason, their system does not update seat availability or other changes in OSU’s schedule.
Futhermore, Miner said increasing numbers of students were having a more difficult time registering in five to six classes on the semester system rather than only three or four in quarters.
“This was really a case where students had said to us over the last year that they’d really like us to develop something that was user friendly and more up to date,” Miner said.
Through a partnership between the Office of the University Registrar and Office of the Chief Information Officer, College Scheduler was brought in to create the program for OSU. Miner said a number of other Big Ten schools and Ohio schools have begun using it at their campuses as well, including Penn State, the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Wright State.
John Wanzer, assistant provost in OSU’s Office of Undergraduate Education, brought a number of academic advisers into the process. He said Schedule Planner will eventually also allow access for them to make changes to students’ schedules.
The Registrar’s Office or any department head can go into the program and look at what students are searching for most often. These demand reports could lead to decisions about opening up more sections of a particular class.
Jay Searson, CEO of Schedulizer Inc., said in an email that he is surprised OSU decided to create its own system rather than reach out to Schedulizer about accuracy.
“It’s certainly true that Schedulizer’s accuracy has suffered since Ohio State moved to the Peoplesoft system,” Searson said. “We appreciate that this is a problem for many students, and are working on some new technology to crawl more quickly.”
Searson said OSU’s course scheduling program is hosted on an interface which can be complex. For example, the Department of Chemistry can’t be viewed all at once because it has too many sections. For this reason, Schedulizer can take two days to a week to update.
“What’s very strange about the university’s decision is that with their help we could easily provide almost real-time accuracy,” Searson said.
He added that Cornell University eased the process for Schedulizer by producing a second course list that the company could use to stay up-to-date.
“Certainly it uses quite a few fewer dollars to publish a list than to create and maintain an interactive course-planning website,” Searson said.
It cost OSU $85,000 to implement Schedule Planner.
Wanzer said although Schedule Planner has been available to students since October, it had a low profile rollout to allow opportunities for debugging. Despite the lack of attention, more than 6,000 individual students made use of it in scheduling for Spring Semester.
One of these students is Nilang Vyas, a third-year in astronomy and astrophysics and theoretical math. He said while Schedule Planner is convenient, it can get confusing for first-time users. Vyas also said since he takes a variety of classes, he starts planning his schedule in advance. However, Schedule Planner doesn’t give students the option.
“One thing that I found inconvenient was that you can’t use it unless your scheduling window is open. I think they should let you use it whenever you need it,” he added.
Ephraim Ungar, a second-year in history and English said Schedule Planner is unnecessary.
“I could really care less,” he said. “I make my schedule with my advisers and a piece of paper. I don’t need a computer program to do it for me.”
Despite initial bugs in the system, many students found Schedule Planner helpful. Members of the OCIO Student Advisory Group were able to test run the software before the general student body. Emily Cadwallader, vice president of the Advisory Group and a third-year in education, said that out of the 35 people at the advisory group meeting, “everybody seemed to positively react to (Schedule Planner).”
“I think it’s going to make scheduling a whole lot faster and a whole lot easier,” Cadwallader said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.