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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

UAccess vs. WebReg revisited

In my column two weeks ago, I addressed UA’s recent crossover from our old WebReg system to UAccess. I still believe that this change was necessary and that the system has the potential to make class planning and registration much simpler. However, students have recently discovered several program flaws that lead me to revisit the subject.

When we take the UAccess system out of theory and into practice, it seems that the UA made a critical mistake that led to several related problems. There are numerous flukes within the technical aspect of the UAccess program. Although these problems are small, they lead us to one logical conclusion: the system was not thoroughly tested before it was released to the entire campus.

In interviews with several major advisors, it became clear that UA faculty and staff were diligently trained with the new software. Likewise, many resources are available for students who are adjusting to it. Still, that does not mean that UAccess itself was adequately analyzed before it was released. Of course, nothing is perfect, but some of its issues could have been easily avoided if there had been more emphasis on the technical abilities of the system, instead of just the people who would be using it.

For example, there are various ways to access the “”Search for Classes”” feature on our new system. However, sometimes the browsing tool does not ask students which term they wish to view before the system searches for classes. The system may automatically select courses from Spring of 1988, Fall of 1994, or all kinds of other terms that came and went years ago. Of course, you cannot add these courses to your cart and there is a drop down menu with other options hiding at the bottom of the page. Nonetheless, if you are just browsing prior to registration, this may come as an unwelcome surprise. The schedule you were hoping for was impossible, since it was based off of previous years’ dates and times.

Did you easily avoid this problem? Many students did just by chance, because another issue with UAccess is its inconsistency. Some days, the system will remember how important it is to specify the term, but other days, it manages to forget. Similarly, one link to the class search may take you to a defective searcher, but another won’t. These problems don’t mean that the entire UAccess site is a failure, but it is extremely inconvenient and can be confusing.

Also, UAccess has crashed quite a few times since its initiation several weeks ago. And the timing is never good. You may be in an advising appointment, trying to do research and ask specific questions to your counselor when the site fails. You may just be trying to plan ahead, or, what if you were trying to legitimately enroll in classes when everything shut down?

There is no answer to this question because nobody knows for sure.

And nobody knows for sure because this semester, we’re the guinea pigs for the system. Things could work out just fine, but since an entire student population hasn’t tried to register on UAccess before, they could also go horribly wrong. It seems to me like allowing the whole student body to be at the mercy of this new system could have devastating effects if it doesn’t go well.

Instead, it would have made more sense to test UAccess over the summer or during registration for winter sessions. These groups of students would have been much smaller, and therefore, fewer people would be adversely affected if anything were to go wrong. Likewise, students could have been warned that the system was experimental, and asked to report any flaws they found before the entire campus was forced to use UAccess. This would not only avoid many issues, but also give UA’s technical support team more time to work on UAccess’ details. More time and more testing would definitely have led to the identification of many problems that plague us now.

In the end, I still appreciate all the potential that UAccess has to offer. It seems to be relatively successful thus far, and its flukes are not the end of the world. However, it might not have been the best idea to transfer the entire school over during the early stages of UAccess’ development. More testing and further inspection of its technical pros and cons would have spared us from the silly inconveniences many of us have experienced.

— Miranda Butler is a creative writing sophomore.

She can be reached at letters@wildcat.arizona.edu.

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