Rushed updates to online system were a step back

When students were signing up for classes in March, the Kernel reported they were having trouble using the new myUK computer system for registration.

And when students had to make changes to their class schedules at the beginning of this semester, they ran into many of the same problems.

While any major technology transition will inevitably have a rough period, it’s time to smooth out the problems with myUK. While the new system might be a cosmetic improvement over the old webUK interface, it’s a step backward in usefulness.

Perhaps one of the biggest problems right now is with class wait lists: Neither students nor their advisers can see where someone is on the wait list. Without this key information, it’s impossible to know whether a student is at the No. 1 position — and likely to get into the class — or the hopeless No. 20 position.

Kathy Hamperian, director of information management for IRIS, which myUK is a part of, told the Kernel last week that students could have called her office to get their wait-list positions. That is hardly a substitute for having the information readily available online; students who desperately need to get into a class will most likely want to check the wait-list number several times a day and not necessarily during regular business hours.

Some problems with myUK have already been ironed out. Although the “Unofficial Transcript” link didn’t work when the system was first launched, the feature has now been added in.

Before the switch to myUK — and the IRIS project as a whole — the university’s online computer systems hadn’t been updated in nearly 20 years, Hamperian said, and it was time to integrate the various UK computer systems.

We can certainly understand the need to upgrade an archaic computer system, especially when it is holding the university back. But to put the system into service before it is effectively finished is irresponsible.

If UK had waited another year to unveil myUK so that it had all of the features students were accustomed to and had less bugs, it most likely would have been warmly received. WebUK was clearly outdated, and as Hamperian told the Kernel, students are generally quick to adapt to changing technology.

But when the change makes it more difficult for both students and their advisers to register for classes, the system will be received much differently.

The registration system will get its next test in November, when students register for the spring semester. We hope that by then myUK will be at full strength.