University News

Courses@Brown site to replace Banner system

More ‘flexible,’ ‘user-friendly’ interface aims to improve shopping, registration experience

By
Senior Staff Writer
Friday, March 18, 2016

The University revealed a new website, Courses@Brown, for students to choose their classes. The interface replaces the Banner system that many considered outdated and aesthetically displeasing. The design of the new site was a collaborative project between The University, students and third-party vendor Leapfrog.

The University launched Courses@Brown, a new website for course search and registration, Monday. Students can expect to use Courses@Brown in the next round of course registration for the 2016 fall semester.

Already, 2,000 students have browsed the new site, and 1,000 potential course carts have been made with 8,000 potential courses, said Robert Fitzgerald, university registrar. The site will replace the Brown Course Scheduler on Banner, which Brown students currently use to sign up for, shop and drop courses. There is no mobile application for the site because the site is already mobile friendly, Fitzgerald said.

Courses@Brown aims to provide “a unified user interface and a unified student experience,” Fitzgerald said. The Banner site was clunky and difficult to navigate, he said, adding that “we’ve been getting suggestions from students pretty much ever since we launched Banner.”

The design of the site involved a joint effort between administrators, students and Leapfrog, a third-party vendor that supplies the interface on which Courses@Brown runs, Fitzgerald said. Brown’s Computing and Information Services also collaborated with Leapfrog on the site.

The University gauged student input throughout the design process in various ways, such as student focus groups and the “student suggestions” link on Banner, he said. The University also assembled a team of students to test the site prior to its release.

A number of key features facilitate the student shopping experience, Fitzgerald said. For example, course materials and information regarding professors, such as their past research, are listed alongside course titles, he said. A “students like you” feature also provides shoppers with ideas of potential classes they may be interested in by showing courses that students with similar interests to their own have taken, he said.

Students can also tag all courses they have successfully completed at the University, allowing future shoppers to search for classes through hashtags such as “intersectional” or “law-related,” rather than by course title alone, Fitzgerald said.

Courses@Brown “gives you a lot more information about classes,” said Luke Camery ’17, who tested the site prior to its release. Camery added that user-friendly features such as “students like you” and the site’s ability to allow students to add courses to a tentative schedule without adding them to their carts facilitate the shopping experience.

The new website “is optimized for a web viewer application, as well as a mobile one,” said Svet Kostov ’18, who also tested the site prior to its release. The new site is “much more flexible and faster,” he added.