But with a recent website development, the MSU hopes to make the process easier.
Current MSU VP (Education) Huzaifa Saeed has spearheaded the creation of the MSU Course Wikipedia, an online database of course information. The website, which is currently a beta version, is based on a site established by the Western University Science Students’ Council.
“It was something I noticed last year,” explained Saeed. “When it comes to actually choosing a course, the only information available is the course outline, which often doesn’t go up until August. The other source students have is MacInsiders, which has course reviews…but if something is designed with ratings in mind that might not be the best thing for you to get information from.”
The MSU-run website, which was programmed by McMaster computer science student Abdul Rahman Khodr, is able to be edited by the general public.
The pages are meant to give a more comprehensive look at each course, including a breakdown of content and assessment methodologies. Saeed explained that this was key, since according to surveys administered over the course of the year, students care a lot about how they were assessed.
Each page will also have space for comments, so as to allow for course reviews or extra information.
While Saeed is in the final weeks of his term, he hopes to see good progress on the project before then, with the goal of having at least 10 or 15 courses posted as models for students to work from.
And he thinks his successor will also be keen to promote it. He noted that both candidates for the position have shown awareness of and interest in the project.
“Since the MSU doesn’t really have a traditional role in on-the-ground academics, they’ll take it upon themselves to really run a grassroots campaign,” he said.
The plan is also to have individual faculties take charge of posting their own courses through the faculty societies and their VPs Academic, giving the VPs “the option to do more policy [work] and direct academics.”
The website is set to be officially launched this week, and the goal is to have the website be fully functional by September 2013.