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Crisis averted… sort of

April 8, 2011

A year ago, Monmouth College basically had a nuclear meltdown as students registered for classes. WebAdvisor completely failed, leaving students stranded, forcing then-Dean of the Faculty Jane Jakoubek to email the faculty to explain what had happened to cause all of this commotion.

As a result of this I had suggested we ditch WebAdvisor and find a competing service to replace it with. Clearly WebAdvisor wasn’t working for Monmouth College, so why should we continue to use it? If the allergy medicine I buy doesn’t fix my allergies, I buy a different brand. If my U.S. Senator doesn’t represent my ideals, I vote him out. So, why does Monmouth College still use WebAdvisor? Beats me.

Over the course of the past year, I had expected to log in to WebAdvisor and find a brand new version that isn’t slow and clunky and actually works on my computer. Never happened. Over time, that expectation for a new WebAdvisor changed to an expectation that WebAdvisor would once again fail during registration and we’d do the same ol’ song-and-dance that we did last year.

But it didn’t.

WebAdvisor did not fail miserably. It was still slow and clunky. It had a few hiccups. People still had problems registering for classes, but there wasn’t anything on par with the doom and destruction of the apocalypse, like I had expected. Bravo, Monmouth.

The registrar had slightly changed the number of credit hours for each registration slot. Surely requiring a few more credits for a 7 p.m. timeslot couldn’t really have made all that much of a difference, could it?

Apparently. That and probably some other behind-the-scenes tinkering.

Is WebAdvisor perfect? Far from. It still fails to render anything but a 1980s-esque text-based web page for those who use Firefox, Safari, Chrome, or Opera. In the last few months, it even broke on the newest version of Internet Explorer, Internet Explorer 9, meaning no up-to-date browser supports the version Monmouth College uses anymore. It still works ridiculously slow. Even registering early Tuesday evening when nobody else could sign up for classes was a nail-biting experience.

But there is hope on the horizon. Information Systems posted their Spring 2011 newsletter on the Outlook Message Board earlier this week. Apparently the school purchased Datatel Portal, which will consolidate WebAdvisor and Moodle logins. It will also allow students to use the Datatel Mobile Access app on their iOS, Android or Blackberry devices to register for classes.

I’m not sure if registering for courses on my iPhone is necessarily the biggest need for me as a student, but I’ll take it. It can’t be much worse than WebAdvisor is now. Presumably, this upgrade will better the entire platform, specifically our computers’ access to it. Hopefully it will actually work. Hopefully it will be faster. Hopefully it will satisfy our needs enough that students won’t have to jump on WebAdvisor at exactly 7:00 p.m. to make sure they get their classes because the service is so unpredictable.

I hope it does. We’re stressed out enough as it is. We don’t need to worry about making sure a piece of software lets us in to the right class next year to add to that.

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