Tufts Technology Services plans updates to SIS class search

In early 2015, SIS will be updated and given new user-friendly functions. Daily File Photo

Updates to the class search function for Tufts’ Student Information System (SIS) are scheduled to go live around March 1, 2015, according to Tufts Technology Services (TTS) Associate Director of Student and Alumni Services Linda Snell.

These changes will provide students with a more user-friendly and streamlined interface for finding information about classes online, according to TTS Senior Communications Specialist Christine Fitzgerald. The search will be contained to one page, reducing the number of clicks needed to find courses as well as diminishing the need to hit the back button, she added.

Furthermore, the updates will include a search ahead function, according to Fitzgerald. 

“Instead of an alpha list where you need to know the name of the course, the new search provides type ahead capability so that you can begin to type in the name of a course and it will show the courses as you type … and it will only show those courses taught that semester and available,” Fitzgerald told the Daily in an email. 

Fitzgerald explained that more information will be available in the new search, such as the breakdown of seats in a class — including those reserved for particular groups such as first-year students — so students can see the actual number of open seats. There will also be expansion buttons to show a description for each course, and if there are associated fees that have been predetermined for a course, they will be displayed as well, according to Snell and Fitzgerald.

The display of Special Topics courses will also undergo changes.

Special Topics will expand to show all the new courses being offered as pilots — this allows faculty to run courses to gauge interest and see if they should be made into regular courses, and allows students to see all that are offered,” Fitzgerald said.

Snell added that the functionality will make the search process easier for students.

“This will allow students to find [Special Topics] more easily,” Snell told the Daily in an email. 

She explained that a results filter system will be also added, allowing students to refine their search results using filters such as days of the week, time slots or number of credits.

This will not initiate a new search, but will allow you to refine the results of a search you have already performed,” Snell said.

Furthermore, students will be brought to the most current registration term by default, according to Fitzgerald. For example, the undergraduate schools have fall, spring and summer terms; the default selection when searching will become the next term that allows registration, instead of the current term, as is currently the case.

TTS conducted a customer satisfaction survey to review the current system in February 2014, according to Snell.

The last customer satisfaction survey … showed a number of pain points for students when using the online catalog,” Fitzgerald said

Students pointed out that the class search function was difficult and not intuitive to use, and that the interface did not show all the information they needed about a course, according to Fitzgerald. Students also commented on the difficulty of class look-up when they didn’t know the course’s specific name, problems with viewing closed sections despite the possibility of getting on waitlists and frustrations with the search results defaulting to the first section of a course rather than immediately showing all options.

After the changes are implemented, Fitzgerald said TTS will conduct a new customer satisfaction survey targeted for fall 2015.