Registering via OASIS easier than old methods, could be improved

It wasn’t too long ago that USF students had to wait in lines and write their names on a list when they wanted to register for classes. Today, the system is largely computerized and Web-based. This is a huge step forward as far as ease of use and convenience is concerned, but the Web portal USF employs to do this still has some rough edges that could be improved.

Since USF first opened classes in 1960 and leading up to the late ’80s, enrollment was a process nobody looked forward to because it involved standing in line for hours without knowing if a class was still available. The image of thousands of students standing in line at a gymnasium may be hard to picture for students today, but back then it was a reality every student had to face at least once a semester.

Later, USF went to a phone system that allowed students the convenience of dialing into a phone menu and adding or dropping classes.

Now students can complete registration from any computer with Internet access using the Web-based Online Access Student Information System, or OASIS.

With OASIS and its link to Florida Academic Counseling and Tracking for Students, or FACTS, students can not only add and drop classes but also check their transcripts and shop for degrees in order to see what classes they still need. It is also possible to pay tuition and other fees online, at least in theory.

The setup of OASIS, in particular the myriad of sub-menus, could be better. It is often not readily apparent where a particular service, such as a chronological listing of classes a student took, can be found. And even if the student becomes familiar with such particular tasks, the way in which the sub-menus are arranged changes quite often, sometimes within weeks. Students are often left no option but to poke around the site, finding features by trial and error rather than through a logical hierarchy.

Other features, such as reports that show classes already taken and those outstanding from the FACTS system, require the user to link to other sites that are equally confusing in layout.

These deficiencies do not mean it is necessary to scrap the system and start over completely, but rather a matter of changing the user interface to make it more intuitive.

The implementation of OASIS is a godsend for students, as it allows them a convenient way to access and control all their information. But the ways in which it is implemented could still be improved.