Brief Project Summary:
In November of 2012, I created a service called UNC Class Checker (http://classchecker.com/), which notifies UNC students via email or text when a class they're interested in taking has an available seat. Since launch, Class Checker has had 11,200 sign ups by 7,000 (unique) UNC students. The following summer, my team member Tara Aida and I launched UNC Class Finder (http://www.uncclassfinder.com/), a search engine for UNC classes which has received visits from more than 26,000 students, faculty, and staff. In addition to allowing users search for classes, Class Finder gives users the ability to visually plan their schedule on a weekly calendar. So far, both projects have received endorsements from UNC ITS and the UNC Registrar. Our goal is to expand these two services to other universities, as we've become aware that there is a great demand for such services at countless universities across the United States.
Is this project affiliated with a campus or community organization? If so, please list all affiliated organizations. If not, please indicate none:
We are associated with UNC's IT department (ITS), however this is primarily a sponsorship as we are independently owned, run, and maintained.
Your interest in social innovation:
We believe that the most powerful products and services are those that alleviate a significant, pre-existing problem in people's lives. This idea is at the core of social innovation, and it's this idea that drove us to create these services and continues to drive us to care about every detail and every possible user workflow so that we can help the most people in a maximal way.
What’s most fulfilling about our work is when students talk to or email us explaining how Class Finder allowed them to discover a class they really enjoyed, or Class Checker enabled them to enroll in a class that they needed to stay on track for their major. These experiences keep our passion for social innovation strong, and encourage us to help as many people possible.
While I come from a background of using technology to help people, Tara has extensive experience in social work, having interned at the NGO Child Welfare Scheme in Hong Kong, lead the Amnesty International club at her high school, and recently begun work on a Developers for Development project at Harvard that provides people in Uganda with fuel-efficient stoves.
Description and goals of your project
Our project will consist of mainly adapting our existing services to function at other universities, working closely with their IT departments to increase student awareness, and independently marketing our services to students. By August 2015, we want to have one or both of our services implemented and known by students in at least three additional universities, with support from those university's IT departments. Additionally, at each university, our goal is to have at least 25% of the student population visit our site at least once by this time. Our ultimate goal is to become a widely used service at these universities that helps a majority of students.
In addition to helping students directly, we plan to provide statistics to university staff which will enable them to improve course offerings in subsequent semesters. We have already begun this data sharing with UNC, as the UNC Registrar and UNC Academic Advising have requested we share our analytics data (e.g. which classes have more than 20 students trying to enroll, which general education requirements appear to be most difficult to satisfy).
Proposed timeline for project implementation:
December 2014 - Formally contact between 5 and 8 IT departments at other universities to gauge their interest.
February 2015 - Approach at least 3 universities with an offer.
March 2015 (depending on university) - Conduct pre-implementation surveys on how much time students spend on registration.
March/May 2015 - Begin development of services for chosen universities.
August 2015 - Completed development.
November 2015 (depending on university) - Conduct post-implementation surveys on how much time students spend on registration with our tools.
Description of community need your project will address:
As a student diagnosed with ADD and ADHD, I’ve had tremendous difficulty performing under time constraints and pressure. One of the most significant incidences of this difficulty was registering for classes the summer before my freshman year. During registration at orientation, I broke down under the stress and an Orientation Leader had to take control of my computer to assist me in remedying my class schedule. I was devastated that my inability to perform may have cost me a good first step into college. The next day, I began work on Class Checker.
We’ve talked to students at universities across the country (BYU, Georgia Tech, RIT, Duke, and others) and know that there is a need for our services in general for students. However, we believe that our services can address an even greater need for students like me who have a condition that makes registration especially difficult. We don’t think that it’s right for students to graduate having taken less than their ideal courses simply because they couldn’t handle the stress of registration, or because they didn’t have the tools to find them.
Evaluation plan to assess project achievements:
Our success will be determined by the number of universities at which we are able to implement our services, the number of unique student users we receive at each university, the average amount of time users spend using our services (which we will use as an indication of utility), and the differential between our pre-implementation and post-implementation surveys. Our surveys will be conducted before and after we release our services at the universities, and will contain questions such as “what’s the approximate amount of time you spend on registration?”, “on a scale of 1 to 5, how stressful do you find registration?”, and “on a scale from 1 to 5, how confident do you feel about graduating on time?”. The user count and average amount of time users spend using our services will be tracked by Google Analytics.
ITS departments at universities have one primary goal: maintain a comprehensive campus infrastructure that works. They do their job well, but few have the resources to go above that goal and offer ideal services for students to make the registration process easy. As students, we know how stressful and time-consuming choosing courses is. We also know how to fix it, and we feel like we have a social responsibility to use our skills to help as many students as possible. We don't think it's right for students to have a less than perfect schedule just because they didn't have the tools to construct one. We have talked to students at universities across the country (BYU, Georgia Tech, RIT, Duke, and more.) about their registration process and found that in every instance the registration process is stressful, complicated, and time consuming. We want to help these communities by reducing student stress and by giving them the tools to find and get into the classes they want so that they can excel academically.
Thus, these tools are meant not only for the average student, but also hope to aid
The entire reason these students are at college is so that they can take classes. Poorly designed registration system act as a barrier between students and the classes that they’re best fit for. By improving this system, we significantly reduce students’ stress and give them to tools to excel academically and graduate on time.