Course catalog search, at your (web) service

Today the Office of the Uni­ver­sity Reg­is­trar (OUR) intro­duces an improved way to search the UW’s online course cat­a­log. This improved search func­tion­al­ity, avail­able from the Course Cat­a­log web­site, lever­ages the recently-released ver­sion 4 of the UW’s Stu­dent Web Ser­vices (SWS).  We encour­age the entire UW com­mu­nity to try it and offer their feed­back so the OUR can improve upon it.

What’s the search like now

Cur­rently, the course cat­a­log search uses a Google cus­tom search box to find and dis­play pages that con­tain the entered key­words. While this is cer­tainly effec­tive, it’s not opti­mal when you’re look­ing for some­thing spe­cific. Sup­pose you’re look­ing for the descrip­tion for Psy­chol­ogy 207, the Psy­chol­ogy of Peace. With the cur­rent Google-based search the top result takes you to the Psy­chol­ogy page, but you still must locate Psych 207 on that page.

How is the improved search better?

The improved search gets results directly from the SWS rather than a set of reg­u­lar HTML pages. (The SWS will also power the forth­com­ing m.UW iPhone appli­ca­tion). This brings a num­ber of ben­e­fits, including:

  • Course-specific results — eas­ily see all the details of the match­ing courses, from descrip­tion to credits.
  • Optional search by term — find the per­fect class for next spring by nar­row­ing your search to a spe­cific quar­ter, if desired.
  • Instant updates — updates made to the course data are imme­di­ately available.

What does “beta” mean?

The label “beta” indi­cates the improved search is not ready to replace the exist­ing course cat­a­log search. Some fea­tures are not yet avail­able, such as Instruc­tor Course Descrip­tions. Nor does the improved search page yet meet full acces­si­bil­ity guide­lines. As addi­tional func­tion­al­ity is added to the SWS, the course cat­a­log search will improve. And the OUR would like to know what you think, too! We strongly encour­age your feed­back so we know what addi­tional fea­tures to work on first.

Finally, the OUR would like to acknowl­edge the incred­i­ble efforts put forth by the Office of Infor­ma­tion Man­age­ment, UW Tech­nol­ogy, and mem­bers of this office to bring course infor­ma­tion to the SWS. The improved search and other inno­va­tions to improve the UW expe­ri­ence wouldn’t be pos­si­ble with­out their work.

UPDATE: After 10 days of use and more than 2200 unique vis­i­tors, ver­sion 1.1 has been posted. Thanks to insight­ful feed­back from over 90 peo­ple, this update includes a few impor­tant bug fixes and clar­i­fies some of the lan­guage on the page. Much of the feed­back included fea­ture requests (pri­mar­ily, the abil­ity to search course descrip­tions, not just titles). More improve­ments are on the way!

7 thoughts on “Course catalog search, at your (web) service

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  6. Rick Roth

    Any chance we’ll also be able to

    1. search course descrip­tions as well as course titles by keyword?

    2. search the Time Sched­ule by key­word (course title)?

    Reply

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