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Schedule-building program to launch in fall

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JANUARY 19, 2012

Beginning next fall, UC Berkeley students will be able to schedule their courses using a new campus technology program currently in its beta version that is based off of the popular Ninja Courses website.

The ScheduleBuilder beta website — which was unveiled late last semester — allows users to create class schedules and is expected to become fully operational for the fall 2012 semester after incorporating users’ suggestions for new features, according to the website.

“I used Ninja Courses as a primary planner last semester because … it helped me keep track of everything: discussion sections, midterms, finals,” said UC Berkeley freshman Clemence Robineau. “I started (using) ScheduleBuilder too, and I like it just as much, if not even more, because … you can find your friends, and it makes it easier to plan lunches, coffee breaks or even just saying hello.”

The website’s original code comes from the Ninja Courses technology, and it is licensed only to the campus, requiring a CalNet ID to log in. Students can customize their schedules by choosing courses and then selecting options according to their preferences for class days and times, as well as gaps between classes.

The main difference between the two websites is that Ninja Courses remains independent, providing services to students at UC Berkeley, UC Merced, UC Santa Barbara and UC Davis.

According to Ninja Courses founders and campus alumni William Li and Alex Sydell, new features tested in Ninja Courses are sometimes incorporated into ScheduleBuilder.

Li and Sydell approached Shelton Waggener, associate vice chancellor for information technology and chief information officer, about licensing the technology last spring at the campus’ Student Technology Council awards ceremony, Li said in an email.

“We wanted to see whether there was any way for this project, which we had grown during our time here as students, to be a more permanent fixture in the campus IT infrastructure,” Li and Sydell said in the email. “We started a dialogue that eventually ended with the university wanting a version of Ninja Courses that they could tie closer to UC Berkeley’s systems for new features.”

Ninja Courses features that ScheduleBuilder does not have include the ability to compare textbook prices from multiple stores, course ratings and professor ratings. On both sites, users can share schedules with friends and view enrollment information for each class or discussion.

Because the website will be solely for UC Berkeley students, it will provide students with features like live-updating class enrollment information and offering grade distribution information, unlike its parent website.

Users on the website — which is described as a “work in progress” on its homepage — can also vote on suggestions for new features and offer ideas of their own.

Currently, top-rated suggestions from students include options to transfer generated schedules directly to Tele-Bears, allow scheduling conflicts and import data such as schedules and friends from the Ninja Courses site.

“I definitely use Ninja Courses as my main schedule planner, and I mostly just use it for the schedule planning and exam dates and times,” said Caitlin Quinn, a UC Berkeley freshman. “I would definitely consider using ScheduleBuilder, since it’s run by Berkeley.”

Geena Cova covers academics and administration.

JANUARY 19, 2012