Every semester, students at the University of Michigan must decide what classes they want to take and register for these classes online. Often times, students have to pick classes based solely on the name of the class without any additional information about the details of the course or its instructor. As it is, the course guide offered by the University of Michigan provides a very broad and general description of each class with no details about the course syllabus or instructor. Students may try and use outside resources such as http://www.ratemyprofessor.com to get a better idea of who will be teaching them, but these websites often contain biased and subjective reviews. As a result, many students discover that the classes they signed up for were nothing like what they had imagined and are forced to drop these classes from their schedule after the initial registration period has ended. When this happens, it is very difficult for a student to add another class of interest to their schedule because of scheduling conflicts or the lack of available seats in a class.
At edUMize, we believe there is a simple and effective solution to this problem: consolidate all of the course information, course reviews, and instructor evaluations into one online database that is linked directly to the student registration webpage. As of right now, the resources that students need to make educated decisions about the classes they want to take certainly exist; however, they are just difficult for students to find and access. After every semester, the University of Michigan sends out evaluation forms for students to rate the quality of their courses and instructors. These evaluations tend to provide quality evaluations of classes and professors without much bias, and they would be a valuable tool for students to have when trying to schedule classes. Furthermore, every class has a syllabus that is released to the students after the students have already registered for that class. These syllabi provide a lot of insight about the structure and content that will be covered in a course, and they would be very useful for students to see before they registered for classes.
Our solution is simple: when it comes time for students to register for classes, have each instructor for every class upload the class syllabus directly to the registration website for students to see. In addition, have the course evaluations for each class and professor linked directly to the registration page as well. With all of these resources made readily available, we believe students will have much more success choosing classes, and we think this will alleviate a lot of the problems that occur when students have to drop classes in the middle of a semester.
Please post any thoughts or ideas that you have to the comments.