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Students in Gen Ed Transition Will Choose Between Programs

By Jonathan G. Adler, Crimson Staff Writer

During the transition to the revamped Gen Ed program, students will choose to fulfill requirements under either the new or the old system, according to Faculty of Arts and Sciences Registrar Michael P. Burke.

“If you’re straddling the two Gen Eds, the Gen Ed program is going to try to provide you with enough flexibility to satisfy the spirit of the new one if possible,” Burke said. “The Registrar’s office and the Gen Ed program will have to know which program you’re pursuing—the existing one or the one that has not been launched.”

The new program, approved last Tuesday by an FAS vote and slated for a possible 2018 launch, will feature four new Gen Ed categories, down from the current eight, along with three broad distribution requirements and a quantitative course.

Up until their senior years, students experiencing the transition can fulfill their requirements using either the old or the new categories, similar to how students could opt in or out of Gen Ed’s first iteration when it replaced the Core, Burke said.

The switch to the new system brings a host of administrative and technical difficulties that must be addressed before the revamped Gen Ed can launch, Burke added. In order for the system to count courses toward the new Gen Ed requirements, Burke and others will have to re-tag courses in the Student Information System to reflect the new categories.

“When we create a course in the Student Information System, that course has certain attributes attached to it. One of those attributes is that it meets General Education requirements,” Burke said. “If the categories are changing, we have to change the courses that are attributed for that requirement.”

Before that can happen, the Gen Ed program will have to determine what courses fall under each of the four new categories, and which courses can count toward the divisional distribution requirements. On Wednesday, chair of the Gen Ed standing committee Edward J. Hall said that current and future Gen Ed courses will have to undergo a “careful re-assessment process” before they can join the new program.

Once Gen Ed administrators have determined what courses will count toward each new requirement, SIS staff must input that data into the system, a process that could take several weeks, Burke said.

“There’s some time and effort required, but it’s not a very complex process,” Burke said, noting that groups of courses could be tagged en masse.

More time-consuming will be testing the new configuration to ensure that it works for real students, Burke said.

“Most of the time will be spent on testing and data validation,” Burke said. “To make sure it’s right, it could be up to six months.”

Burke said that despite the hard work ahead, those involved with the rollout of the new program are excited about its prospects.

“It’s going to be exciting to work through this to help create a new era of this program,” Burke said.

–Staff writer Jonathan G. Adler can be reached at Follow him on Twitter @JonathanGAdler.

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