The University Registrar’s Office earlier this month launched Yale Course Search, a replacement for the Online Course Information and Yale Blue Book systems that Registrar Emily Shandley has touted as “a more user-friendly application” with a “responsive design” and “easier interface.”
Many students beg to differ. Since its release on July 19, the new system has been widely maligned on the Facebook groups Overheard at Yale and Yale Memes for Special Snowflake Teens. The responses among the six undergraduates interviewed by the News were similarly negative.
One recent meme describes Yale Course Search as “a new, terribly designed course selection system that tries to fix something that wasn’t broken,” and an Overheard post surmises that the system’s creators simply co-opted a final project from an introductory computer science class.
“Yale Course Search gives me claustrophobia the second I open it,” Lukas Corey ’21 told the News.
To find course evaluation information or compare classes, Corey said, users must open a seemingly endless series of tabs, which stretch progressively farther to the right of the screen and cannot be minimized.
Kevin Li ’21, who described himself as a “big fan” of YBB and OCI, disputed Shandley’s claim that Yale Course Search offers a more user friendly interface, calling the general user interface of the new system “terrible.” For example, when a user is scrolling through a list of classes and selects one to add to their schedule, the system automatically scrolls to the top of the list rather than picking up where it left off, Li said.
He also said Yale Course Search makes it difficult to view student course evaluations, which he deemed the most important factor in selecting classes.
For Helen Cai ’20, the new system is worse for filtering out and comparing classes. In general, she said, it is “poorly designed and rather cluttered.”
“YCS will accomplish exactly the same thing as YBB, but I would much prefer the user experience of YBB,” Cai said.
Another common complaint concerned the new system’s worksheet function, which allows students to add prospective classes to their schedules and view them in a weekly calendar. Five of the six students interviewed by the News said they faced difficulties navigating the worksheet. Unlike Blue Book, Yale Course Search does not show a class’s name or time on the calendar unless users hover their cursor over it.
Corey said that he’ll probably end up writing up his own schedule in a notebook so that he can think about it more clearly.
Asked about students specific criticisms, Shandley did not respond directly, instead highlighting the specific ways in which Yale Course Search is an improvement from Yale Blue Book and OCI. Among other features, Shandley said, the new platform integrates with other applications, such as registration, and expands accessibility for all students — including those with disabilities — by adopting national compliance standards for online interactive applications.
Last fall, Shandley said, the Registrar’s Office introduced the new application to a pilot group of students, faculty and advisers to collect feedback. The office then rolled out the new website in a “soft launch” for the spring 2018 semester to give students the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the search tool.
In response to feedback about the pilot program and soft launch — which Shandley said was “good” — the Registrar’s Office is working on updating the system to include more historical term data and allow students to search across all terms.
“[Yale Blue Book] is well-loved by undergraduates and we recognize it may take time for some students to grow accustomed to Yale Course Search,” Shandley said.
Despite their general dissatisfaction, some students interviewed offered qualified praise for the new system.
Douglas Shao ’21 complimented Yale Course Search’s “fresh aesthetic.” But because of “bugs and development issues,” Shao plans to use CourseTable, an alternate, student-designed scheduling platform, and recommend the application over Course Search to incoming first years.
Fred Makolle ’21 said the Advanced Search options on Course Search, which allow students to filter through courses based on meeting times and whether they have a final exam, are a “huge upgrade” from Yale Blue Book.
Overall, Makolle said, it’s too early to say whether Course Search is better than Blue Book, since the new application is still under development.