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CourseKick revamps post-registration

By
Contributing Writer
Thursday, November 10, 2011

Within a couple days of its Oct. 31 launch, CourseKick, Brown’s new social course scheduling website, had registered almost 500 users. By the end of the week, that number had grown to more than 1000. Now, over 20 percent of undergraduates have signed up.

It is little wonder that founders Dylan Field ’13, Devin Finzer ’13 and Sam Birch ’14 are feeling a sense of euphoria now that their creation, which began as a project for their computer science class last semester, has been released.

“It was incredible,” said Field, of the site’s first week in business. But the time since then has not been filled with constant celebration for the three founders. Instead, they have been working harder and faster to keep the site running efficiently. “There was a lot of bug-fixing,” Field said. And lately the trio has been spending longer and longer nights improving their product.

Much of this time has been spent fixing expected glitches and responding to the overwhelming amount of user feedback, they said. From suggestions about how to improve upon the design, to late night texts about a bug that needs to be fixed, student responses have helped improve both the look and efficiency of CourseKick, they said.

Users have praised CourseKick for its ingenuity and convenience compared to Banner. “It’s very helpful because you can show conflicting … classes side by side without the nasty red of (Banner),” said Aiden Schore ’15.

As web traffic has declined since the close of pre-registration, the founders have been developing new features and improving the style of CourseKick. “Devin’s been coding non-stop,” Field said.

Despite initial difficulties, they have succeeded in linking the site to Banner, and now users can export their CourseKick classes to their Course Scheduler, allowing for one-click registration.

But one of the biggest additions to the site is the “recommendations” feature that gives students class recommendations based on courses they are currently shopping. It is going to be “like Pandora for classes,” Finzer said.

CourseKick will receive a facelift today, making the homepage more sleek and shifting the location of Facebook friends images from the “awkward bottom line” to a more prominent location at the site’s center.

The trio hopes all these additions will make the discovery of new classes easier and more enjoyable. But they are also striving to make CourseKick a social experience that reflects the atmosphere of college life.

The changes are coming at the right time — some students complain that the site’s relatively small number of users make it less social than it could be. But Finzer said the small user base has allowed them to fix specific problems quickly and cater to users’ needs.

At the same time, the founders have been careful not to turn away newcomers by making the site overly complex. The goal is to draw users to the site because of its convenience and then keep them coming back by “improving the core product,” Field said. They are aiming especially to draw in first-years who will benefit most from the ability to find classes they may never have known about without CourseKick.

But they also understand that CourseKick is still at the beginning of its life. For an idea that was conceived over last winter break and began as a simple Facebook application, CourseKick has come a long way, Field said.

Field, Finzer and Birch are now working harder than ever to ensure their creation continues to develop. Though this will likely mean even more sleepless nights and hours in the CIT, Field said they will continue to “strive forward” to give Brown students the best product possible.

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