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Waitlist option coming to UI registration process

BY JAKE MCCULLEY | NOVEMBER 19, 2013 5:00 AM

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The University of Iowa ISIS system enables students to register for courses with the click of a button, which makes registration, for the most part, pretty simple. However, if students want or need to register for a class that is full, getting on a waiting list is more challenging.

Waiting lists are currently handled manually and differently by each department, said Thomas Kruckeberg, a UI associate registrar. However, a new system is being tested during this registration week, and it will probably be used campus-wide beginning in the summer of 2014.

“The new system will be completely integrated with ISIS,” Kruckeberg said. “Students will be able to get placed on a waiting list with one click.”

When spots open in a class, students on the waiting list will receive an email notification and have 24 hours to register. The waiting list is on a first-come, first-served basis, so responsibility falls to the students to keep an eye out for an email.

This will help students get the classes they want, and it will also save time for faculty, who have had to manually track waiting lists and contact students each time a position becomes available.

The online waiting-list system will also allow administrators to track the popularity of courses. If some courses have especially large waiting lists, they will be able to offer more sections, perhaps even the same semester, Kruckeberg said.

Other Big Ten schools have had success for years with similar systems. Michigan State University sends out “open-class alerts” to the first 25 students on the waiting list, and then they register on a first-come, first-served.

Indiana University uses a slightly different system.

“Students put in a request to the registration system, and they can add what’s called a ‘drop if enrolled [in your first class choice]’ option,” said Mike Carroll, a senior associate registrar at Indiana. “So it’s all done automatically.”

Indiana has had its waiting-list system in place since 2004, Carroll said. But the UI had to wait until the advent of MAUI [Made at the University of Iowa] before it could create a similar system.

Kruckeberg said that the email notification system was chosen for the UI, to some extent, for its simplicity.

“I’ve heard of systems like [Indiana’s],” he said. “But we wanted something we could roll out relatively fast, that might not be as complicated. And maybe we can look at modifying it later.”

The old mainframe, which was replaced by MAUI about a year ago, didn’t allow departments to collaborate easily, so each department had its own information-processing techniques. But one of the main goals of MAUI is what Kruckeberg termed “workflow integration,” enabling many processes to be done in the same programs and with the same organizational structure.

MAUI will also simplify other registration processes in the near future.

“There’s also going to be an online drop feature [after the two-week deadline], hopefully, by fall 2014,” Kruckeberg said. “That way, students won’t have to walk all over campus getting signatures on a little piece of paper to bring to Calvin Hall.”

UI junior Matt Ventling said the changes sounded positive.

“I think the new system sounds better,” he said. “I’ve always chosen classes with space in them to avoid a headache, but this will make it easier to get exactly the classes you want.”


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