Web Site Incorporates Class Reviews, Schedule Planning





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UC Berkeley students enrolling in spring semester courses now have a new option to help them prepare for their latest Tele-BEARS appointments.

CourseRank.com, a free class-planning Web site developed in 2007 by three Stanford University undergraduates, allows students to search for courses, read course reviews and plan their future academic schedules. A UC Berkeley version of the site launched Oct. 7.

Nearly 20 percent of students on campus have already tried the Web site, according to John Tran, ASUC academic affairs vice president. The tool integrates official course and grade distribution data provided by the campus with user-generated course ratings, reviews and comments.

According to Filip Kaliszan, CEO of CourseRank Inc., the self-funded project will help students avoid laboring through dense course catalogs.

"Reading a 700-page course catalog is neither exciting nor efficient," Kaliszan said in an e-mail. "CourseRank's search feature allows students to filter results by a number of criteria ... making it easier and faster to find the right course for each academic term."

Kaliszan said he and co-founders Benjamin Bercovitz and Henry Liou started CourseRank for a computer science class project at Stanford.

The three students found inspiration for the project after their initial idea for another service was abandoned, Kaliszan said.

"We began exploring other project ideas and quickly realized that finding classes to take was a problem we faced every quarter," he said.

After taking the computer science course, the three developers launched CourseRank at Stanford in May 2007 before expanding to UC Berkeley, Duke University and Cornell University.

Kaliszan said the CourseRank team-which has expanded to seven members, including a software engineer from UC Berkeley-is actively working to expand its presence online at other universities.

He added that future plans for the service include improving integration with Facebook, creating applications for mobile devices and devising revenue schemes that can keep the site free for students.

Tran said that the recent decision by competitor Pick-a-Prof.com to charge fees led to a search for a new service to bring to campus.

"CourseRank is the best service we have available for free," he said. "It has the most depth and the most breadth of the services that I've seen."

Tran said he researched several similar services in past months before choosing to support CourseRank. Though the UC Berkeley version was originally slated to launch in spring 2010, it was released ahead of time in order to get more user feedback.

Senior Christa Lim, an environmental economics and policy major, said the service has potential but needs more peer reviews and ratings to be helpful.

"I've tried it, but I don't think it's useful yet because not a lot of people are on it," she said. "Once people start using it more, maybe I'll try it again."

Tags: COURSERANK


Contact Michael Garcia at [email protected]



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