Course registration and allocation has been a source of frustration for colleges and universities big and small, across the country. Students and their parents are shelling out tens of thousands (if not hundreds of thousands) of dollars for college and instructors sit in class wondering how these particular students are sitting before them.
This can be even more frustrating for graduate programs. It may be surprising, but until recently, this was a big problem for even Wharton Business School’s MBA program and the Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.
The problem stems from the use of an outdated, auction style system of matching students with seats available in classes. Gerard Cachon, Professor of Operations and Information Management at Wharton likened it to a share issue “Four to five years ago professors realised that “it wasn’t working the way we had intended it.” Some people were doing really well – former financial traders were particularly adept at gaming the auction system – while others were getting inferior schedules. “We realised there might be something wrong with the mechanism itself.” Cachon told Financial Times.
CourseMatch by Cognomos puts the students on a much more level playing field. Each student is allocated points by nothing more than the year they are in. For instance, second year students receive 5,000 bidding points and first year students are allocated 4,000 bidding points.
Students then use those points to allocate towards the classes they want the most. At Wharton, under the previous system, students went through 8 rounds of bidding. This meant, that to some degree, students could predict what others would bid on. With CourseMatch there’s just one round of bidding.
Using the CourseMatch platform students allocate 100 points to their preferred courses and allocate the rest of the points in proportion. They can tell the platform if they wish to link courses, for example if they wanted to study real estate development and real estate financing. They can also tell the system if they want one class “or” another.
Then, like the old wireless days, points can’t roll over. This prevents students from allocating points to a less popular class and banking them for a more popular class the next semester.
Wharton called CourseMatch “Our single largest increase in student satisfaction in 20 years”. Rotman Management School said “everyone is a little stunned at how positive the results appear to be”.
You can see the future of course registration in the Startup Alley at EDUCAUSE in Philadelphia, November 1-3rd and online here.