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Is eLion On Its Last Legs?

eLion, the course registration system (among other things) we all love to hate may have some changes in store. Members of the University Park Undergraduate Association’s Academic Affairs Committee (AAC) have been working toward making big improvements to the system.

“eLion is an outdated system,” said AAC member John Zang. “As more efficient and user-friendly systems have developed over the years, eLion was not updated and remains largely as it was years ago.” The current version, according to the copyright date, dates from 2006. Some pages on the site have not been updated since then. The original system was created in the mid-1990s. That’s the Stone Age in technology years.

Last year, the AAC formed the four-student Registration Process Review Commission (RPRC) to examine alternate possibilities for eLion, by looking at equivalent systems at other universities. Most notably, they conducted a case study of Brigham Young University’s My Major Action Planner (MyMAP).

The key to MyMAP (and to the strengths of the other universities’ systems) was integration. eLion lacks a successful and dynamic integration of all of Penn State’s academic aspects in one place. The biggest headache comes with using eLion to schedule classes, but using the Schedule of Courses website to do everything else related to registration. MyMAP, according to the RPRC’s report on it, “was unique in its near-complete integration with academic needs throughout the University.” No more back-and-forth.

MyMAP’s planning feature is miles above eLion’s degree audit system, which is not user-friendly at all; you have to wade through a river of Courier font symbols and incomprehensible abbreviations to figure out if you’re fulfilling your major requirements (this is particularly hard if you’re trying to balance a double major across two separate degree audits). With MyMAP, you can clearly see what track you’re on with regards to fulfilling graduation requirements, and you can figure out what you need to take next semester. Today, when trying to chart out what classes I need to take from here until graduation, I was furiously scribbling course names, somehow trying to organize it.

It appears, though, that eLion will be getting some improvements. Unfortunately, MyMAP uses a different programming language than Penn State does, so Penn State will be unable to implement it here. However, this year an eLion Re-Modernization Committee has been formed, composed of faculty (including the registrar), advisors, and two students (Zang and AAC Chair Courtney Lennartz). This committee is currently meeting every two weeks to discuss bringing elements from MyMAP to eLion. If the proposed student representative to the IT Fee Board goes through, this would be a good point of discussion as well.

We’ve certainly been paying more in tuition and IT fees since 1996, so it would be nice to have something to show for it. Or am I wrong?

If you’re interested, you can read the RPRC’s full report from last year on MyMAP and the problems with eLion.

About the Author

Dan McCool

Dan is a senior and has been writing for Onward State since January 2010. Did you miss him? Nah, neither did we. He's returning after a semester abroad in England and will be serving as Arts Editor. Favorite things in life include references to The Big Lebowski.

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