April 10, 2009

New Website May Give Schedulizer Competition

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As students find themselves in the midst of pre-enroll season, a new competitor to the popular course-scheduling website Schedulizer.com has cropped up.
This past fall, two undergraduates at Cornell, T.P. Wong ’10 and Yoni Medoff ’11, met to discuss the possibility of creating a new, user-friendly interface to help students prepare course schedules more easily. Just a few months later, on March 30th, Chequerd.com was launched to the public and is already creating buzz on campus.
The seeds of Chequerd.com were planted as the University struggled to keep its relationship friendly with the most popular course scheduling website on campus, Schedulizer.com.
Wong said that the site already has hundreds of users and believes that as word gets around, it may become too large to manage.
He said the website aims to improve the services provided by course-scheduling websites.
“Ideally, sites like Chequerd, which rely on newer Web technologies, will provide an impetus to existing and more established companies to improve the quality of their own services,” Wong said.
Chequerd provides the same service as Schedulizer, but with a different interface. “The founding vision of the website was the drag and drop interface, which we felt was a more natural way of trying to find one’s best schedule,” co-founder Wong stated in an e-mail.
Chequerd also gives users the option of exporting their schedule directly to other sources, such as iCal or Outlook.
Searson acknowledge that the competition from Chequerd may prompt Schedulizer to make improvements to its services.
“Right now, most of our resources are toward expanding Schedulizer to more campuses,” he said. “But, as competitors grow, we possibly will have to spend time and money to improve Schedulizer,” he said.
Searson does remain confident, though, that Schedulizer will not be significantly impacted Chequerd, as he had not heard anything about the service until contacted by The Sun.
University administrators also said that they had not been informed about the Chequerd service until contacted by The Sun.
“The principals have never contacted us about their services nor sought permission to use any University-owned information to enable their services, assuming it is like Schedulizer,” David Yeh, vice president of Student and Academic Services, stated in an e-mail. “Certainly they would have to be authorized to access information from the University to enable their services; they may otherwise, be in violation of various policies and practices.”
Although the University Registrar maintains that course information is University-owned, Chequerd was initially under the impression that this information was publicly accessible and free to reproduce.
“We have not been in contact with the Registrar, though we’ve been using information made readily available by them, and are immensely grateful for it,” Wong said.
A lack of communication between Chequerd and the University could create future problems, as was the case for Schedulizer last fall.
As students were enrolling in courses at the beginning of last fall semester Schedulizer CEO Jay Searson ’08 was forced to apologetically shut down the website. But, after kinks were worked out with the University Registrar, the site came back online with the support of the student community.
As CoursEnroll for the Fall 2009 semester is underway for upperclassmen, Searson said that Schedulizer is functioning well.
“Things are going fine. We have no problems to report,” he said.
Chequerd is in the midst of adding new features to the website to improve the service they provide, according to Wong. Schedulizer is also discussing the possibility of adding new features to its interface, although Searson seems more focused on expanding the site to more campuses. Schedulizer is currently active on 11 campuses nationwide.