CSUN will no longer be printing copies of the Schedule of Classes Enrollment Guide starting with the 2008 spring semester.
Instead, students and faculty will have to access the schedule online through the campus Web site.
Eric Forbes, director of admissions and records, said the main reason for the change was to keep all the information current. From the time the schedules were being adjusted to the time it was actually printed, the booklet was full of misinformation.
CSUN is actually far behind most college campuses, Forbes said.
“We’re the 11th campus in the CSU system to have everything online now.”
Associate Vice President of Undergraduate Studies Cynthia Rawitch, who made the final decision, the plan to stop the publication of the schedule had been in the works for two and a half years. They have tried to offer it exclusively online, but at the last minute would ditch the idea because they wanted to be sure it’d be good and useable.
After so many years, Rawitch said the decision to make the change was a “no-brainer.”
They felt it was better to make a change during the spring semester and not during the fall semester because student population is more stable, Forbes said.
“We wanted to improve look-up ability and the language so students aren’t distracted and can get to what they need with better ease,” Forbes said.
Forbes said the good news is that everything will be current because they’re updating the schedule monthly until the last days to register in February.
One advantage Forbes envisions is that students will be able to see what classes are available and which ones are filled to capacity.
That’s the only advantage 23-year-old liberal studies major Anthony Banks acknowledges.
Banks said he’s upset about the change because it takes too long to log in to the Web portal, search for classes, find course numbers and have to go back and input all the data.
“It’s too much work to have to find all the information first when you can just flip through the book,” Banks said.
Banks said he brought up the suggestion that students should have had the option to place an order for the book.
Forbes said that it’s not just about accessing everything online. It’s about creating an annual class schedule. Students can plan their schedules two semesters at a time that way.
There are three ways to view the schedule of classes online. One is to search individual subject areas through the dynamic Class Search via SOLAR, download the static class schedules in PDF or Microsoft Word formats (with an option to print certain pages or the entire book), or go to the Guest SOLAR Class Search where no login is required.
Criminal Justice major, Sergio Guevara, says it makes sense to have it all online because he thinks the Internet is the biggest means of communication, but he worries about the system crashing.
Director of Academic Technology, David Levin, says the IT department does a lot to ensure the system doesn’t go down. They monitor its use a minute-by-minute basis.
He says they have also done what is called “load testing.” This is where they simulate a number of users logging in to use the system- usually double the amount of typical peak times- and check the problems. So far, they have been able to avoid any major difficulties.
Levin explains that there are two servers for the portal. If one ever goes down, they can still use another. The one left will be slower, but it will still function properly.
Another concern Sergio Guevara had was that he believes the students should have been polled to find out whether they liked the idea or not.
Rawitch says students were not surveyed, but there is a plan to have an assessment after this next semester.
“Our belief was that it was better even if they [students] loved the printed version.”
Dave Nirenberg, Director of Commercial Services for the University Corporation – who was responsible for producing and providing the copies to the bookstore – says another main reason for putting the schedule online was the surplus.
“From an environmental standpoint, we’re talking about a lot of trees,” he says.
Although the university had gone from printing 36,000 copies down to 26,000 within a matter of years, there were always several hundred copies left unsold in the bookstore.
University Corporation did make a profit from the sale of the schedules, but Nirenberg says it was “nominal” and that they sold it at cost.
Nirenberg adds that the University Catalog is facing the same fate as the schedule of classes. Undergraduate Studies is working to halt the publication of the catalog after this upcoming one (2008-2010) comes out next year.