When students experienced major problems with the Online Course Information site on Tuesday, some were frustrated because they didn’t know where their classes would be the next morning. But Daniel Persitz ’03 knew whom to call, even if it was 1 a.m.: Registrar Barry S. Kane.
“I was kind of concerned that nobody even knew about the problem,” Persitz said.
“[Kane] was really nice about it,” Persitz said, noting that Kane was awake and trying to deal with the problem when he received the call. “He actually thanked me for calling.”
Kane said the system slowed down significantly on Tuesday, but added that the system functioned normally on Wednesday and that there are now remedies for the problem: two additional servers and a link to a PDF file of all fall classroom locations.
Kane said his office had noticed “a significant degradation of response time” beginning around 8 p.m. Tuesday, although he said the number of students simultaneously logging into the system did not grow large enough to justify such a slowdown until 11 p.m. At that point, he said, there were almost 600 users on the system simultaneously.
Information Technology Services Director Philip Long said this number represented twice the number of users at peak times last spring.
Ernst Huff, the associate vice president of Student Financial and Administrative Services, said the system’s designers had performed stress tests on it, but said he thought the system might not have been ready for Tuesday night’s traffic.
“We thought we planned for it, but maybe the volume was higher than we’d anticipated,” Huff said.
And ITS Director of Administrative Systems Indy Crowley said that the many components involved in the system make it difficult to pinpoint the cause of a slowdown such as Tuesday night’s.
“[But] our suspicion is that it’s the volume on the servers because, by and large, it’s the same application as before,” Crowley said.
Although Online Course Information launched in 2001, this fall is the first time that the printed course supplement no longer lists classroom locations.
Rebecca Ives ’05 described this semester’s printed supplement as “useless.”
“I think it’s ridiculous, the whole idea that they think it’s more efficient [without classrooms listed in the supplement],” she said. “I need room numbers. I was afraid I wasn’t even going to know where to go this morning.”
Kane said cost and accuracy of information were the issues with printing classroom locations in the paper supplement, as that information was often changed after past supplements were printed. Deputy Registrar Diane Rodrigues agreed that printing the information in course supplements seemed impractical.
“Until the crunch, ITS was running updates every three hours” to change information such as class times, locations, and even names, Rodrigues said.
Huff said he thought the heavy load of users on the site Tuesday night was due to students’ need to find where their classes were located.
Daniel Gusman ’05 concurred.
“Half the time, you knew what you wanted to take, you just didn’t know where it was,” he said.