Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Carts, Horses, and IT

I recently endured one of those conferences where the formal part of the program was disappointing, but the intramural conversations between presentations were actually instructive. Among other things, I learned that what I’ve been told was simply a fact of life, isn’t.

At my current school, we have a terrible time enforcing course prerequisites because our IT system isn’t very good about blocking students who don’t have them. We’ve actually rejected calls to tighten up our prereqs because the computer (broadly speaking) couldn’t handle it. The cart came before the horse.

(Why a student who isn’t academically prepared for a course would sign up for it, against the sage counsel of academic advisors, I still don’t know. When I ask them, they mutter something about ‘getting it out of the way,’ graduating quickly, or ‘who cares?’ Mystifying. Do they think we pick prereqs out of a hat?)

When I’ve complained about this, which is pretty much monthly, I’ve always heard the same answer: it can’t be helped. C’est la vie. Suck it up.

At this conference, almost as an aside, someone from another school mentioned that their IT system doesn’t have this issue. It enforces prereqs seamlessly, so the faculty is arguing over what the particular prereqs ought to be.


It’s almost as if the IT people are more concerned with other things...

Does your school have any weird academic decisions based on operational failures?