Compass receives positive reactions

By Frank Vanderwall

Despite initial disfavor of Illinois Compass, the new online grade book for the University, it has garnered approval from students and staff.

In the last six months Campus Information Technologies and Educational Services has shut down the three previously used online classroom grade books in favor of Compass powered by the commercial software Web CT by Vista.

“The new Illinois Compass environment was the best fit for the University’s situation at this time,” said Lanny Arvan, assistant chief information officer for the University.

Arvan also commented on the outright strength of Compass, saying, “It has a very large and powerful tool set.”

This large and powerful tool set enables teachers and students to take online classroom settings to a whole new level with quizzes, e-mail, and even homework available through the Internet.

“Compass does everything I want it to do; I feel that it greatly enhances my class,” said sociology professor Judith Pintar.

Many students are also enthusiastic about what Compass offers.

“I really like Compass; it puts everything I need within reach in on area,” said Meredith Clark, a senior in business.

Despite the positives of the new system, there have been some complaints about its performance.

The system was not available to most classes until four or five days into the current semester. This was because the manual integration with the Banner system, which stores student information, had not been completed, Arvan said.

Another issue, especially with students, has been the speed of Compass. Many students have expressed complaints about the amount of time it takes to login and navigate the program.

“I think we have now rectified most, if not all, of these problems,” Arvan said.

Kathryn Nisbet, sophomore in education, agreed that Compass had improved.

“I have definitely noticed a positive difference in Compass since the fall,” she said.

Both students and professors expressed hopes that the new system would remain in place for several years to avoid having to learn another new system in the near future.

Arvan said Compass is a concept that will linger, and that it will only get better as the transition continues.

“Next fall we will still be using the (Web CT) Vista software supporting Compass, and it will be running even more smoothly than it is now,” Arvan said.