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LionPATH Unveils With Poor Design, Difficult Navigation

LionPATH — the university’s new student information system that came at a $66 million price tag — made its debut last week. Unfortunately, it was an underwhelming one. While the new system does seem to make scheduling easier, this is overshadowed by things such as poor design and difficult navigation.

During spring 2016, students have to use both eLion and LionPATH to complete their registration for next year. In order to register for summer 2016 classes, students have to use eLion. To register for fall 2016 classes, students have to use LionPATH. Then, if all goes according to plan, LionPATH will officially replace eLion in December of 2016.

As of right now, the system looks unfinished; and seeing as the program was just debuted, we’re hoping there are more updates coming.  But it’s pretty off-putting, as students are expected to use the system to schedule classes in the near future.

Lionpath homepage
The homepage a student initially sees when they log into LionPATH.
The eLion homepage.
The eLion homepage.

Admittedly, both designs are very simple. In the case of eLion, the simple design makes things very easy to find. The drop down tabs mean you can find everything from the homepage, and the most important links are on the side.

However, this is not the case for LionPATH. It is nice to see your schedule when you immediately log into LionPATH, and it is easy to find the schedule builder and your financial information. Unfortunately, a lot of the features that eLion had (such as the GPA predictor and the degree audit) are either hard to find, or are not yet available. I’m equating this to the fact that the site is probably isn’t finished yet. But that still begs the question: Why have students sign up for an unfinished website?

lionpath schedule builder
LionPATH’s Schedule Builder.
The Schedule Planner available on eLion.
The Schedule Planner available on eLion.

Both systems have a similar program that allows students to add classes and look at alternate schedules. However, even after I disabled Adblock on Google Chrome, the schedule planner on LionPATH would not open, no matter how many times I refreshed the page and selected “Click here.”

How students register for courses on LionPATH.
How students register for courses on LionPATH.
Registering for classes using eLion.
Registering for classes using eLion.

When it comes to actually registering for classes, again, both systems use a similar process that involves looking up course numbers and entering them into a box to schedule it. Not difficult by any means.

However, LionPATH has the disadvantage of only allowing you to enter one class at a time. This may be annoying when it comes time to schedule, since students often have to battle for limited seating in a class. Previously, students could look up all their schedule numbers in advance, and have them already entered in the boxes at midnight on their designated scheduling day. If the LionPATH system stays how it is, registering might be more difficult in the future.

lionpath course catalog
What browsing the course catalog looks like on LionPATH.
The Schedule of Courses available on eLion.
The Schedule of Courses available on eLion.

Once again, both systems use a very similar method for looking up classes. Both have a catalog or schedule of courses that you navigate through to find what you’re interested in. One thing that is very off-putting about LionPATH is that fact that every page on the website only seems to take up the left 50 percent of the screen. This makes the font on LionPATH really tiny and annoying to read.

There are some things that are coming to LionPATH that supposedly more convenient, such as a wait list system instead of a watch list system, and a mobile app that will be available in April. If LionPATH is finished, then it’ll be a disappointment to say the least. As of right now, most things are either the same as eLion, or they are slightly worse.

It’s easy to see why LionPATH’s debut was met with such disappointment; there are tons of simple problems that seem like they could be fixed so easily. For example, a simple Google search of LionPATH doesn’t take you directly to the homepage. The only way I was able to log in was through an email sent to me by Penn State. While this may have certain security benefits, it was a confusing way to start the process of logging in.

LionPATH looks extremely rudimentary — the design is elementary, small, and hard to navigate. And nearly all the programs are the same as those on eLion, except for the programs that are missing. While eLion is not the greatest website to ever exist, it works fine. With LionPATH, it seems like Penn State spent money in an attempt to fix something that wasn’t even broken to begin with.

Signing up with pen and paper is starting to sound more appealing.

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About the Author

Katie Klodowski

Katie is a senior from Pittsburgh, PA and a retired editor at Onward State. Currently, she works as a staff writer. True to her hometown, she is a fan of Steel City sports but also uses her ballet and music training to be a tough critic of all things artsy. The fastest ways to her heart are through pizza, sushi, and a solid taste in music (this means no Taylor Swift). To be constantly razzle-dazzled, follow her on all social media forms at @KatieKlodowski

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