ASG launches application to help students plan courses


Source: screenshot

CourseDJ, a new site launched by Associated Student Government last week, allows students to schedule different combinations of classes. The application aims to let students experiment with course scheduling with minimal CAESAR interaction.

Emily Chin, Reporter

Associated Student Government released a web application last week called CourseDJ to help students plan their courses for Winter Quarter.

CourseDJ is the first application created that uses the Northwestern Course Data API, which went live in September and allows students to request NU’s official course information in a programming-friendly format.

The application gives students the option to “remix” their schedules so they can look at possible schedules with different combinations of classes. Students can add as many classes as they want and can tag them as optional, preferred or mandatory. For each possible schedule that comes up on CourseDJ, the preferred and mandatory classes will always show up, but the optional classes will be switched out.

“It provides a much faster way of looking at the classes you’re thinking of and seeing what those look like on a schedule,” said McCormick junior Thomas Huang, a member of the ASG services committee.

ASG services vice president Christina Kim said the goal of the new site is to allow students to schedule classes with minimal interaction with the University’s CAESAR system.

The website was created by Kim and Huang. They held what Huang called a “mini hack day,” putting together the program over the course of eight hours.

Huang and a team created a previous version of CourseDJ at the 24-hour hackathon RedesigNU that ASG hosted in the spring. However, Huang said the new site is made from scratch.

“The only thing in common now is the idea,” Huang said.

Huang said if a student wanted to do the same thing as CourseDJ does on CAESAR, it would take much longer.

“It’s pretty annoying to figure classes on CAESAR, especially since you can’t go backwards, and a lot of functionality on it isn’t really user-friendly,” Kim said. “We wanted to make this a little easier, especially as registration for next quarter is coming up,”

The program is still a work in progress because Kim and Huang are still figuring out how to link the discussion sections and lectures together, among other potential additions.

“I don’t know if CAESAR’s going to be changing anytime soon, so this is a better work-around than using CAESAR to figure out your class schedule,” Kim said.

In Spring Quarter 2013, students created a similar CAESAR-alternative website called Courseseek that drew more than 2,000 individual visitors in its first day.

However, without the Course Data API at the time, students had to use data directly from CAESAR, Courseseek co-developer Al Johri said in September. Johri, a McCormick senior, told The Daily the site only lasted two quarters with up-to-date data.