Online registration and Canvas access fraught with problems

By Starr A. Wilson


Registration this early Fall was fraught with errors resulting in frustration to both faculty and students.  Not only have students not been able to register for classes, but faculty were unable to access student emails and respond to them.


Horticulture Department Chair Steve Brown said, “With Canvas, I get an email from students whenever they post something.  You can reply to this message but it bounces it back. I have to go to Canvas, wait for it to load. If I open the shell there is nothing.”

Illustration by Burcu Ozdemir/The Guardsman

City College’s internal management system, the Banner 9 software, was developed by Ellucian and has presented problems every now and then for the past few years. 


The company’s Vice President of Corporate Affairs Susan Aspey, wrote in an email, “Although CCSF uses our student information system, the college manages the servicing of this product using internal support and multiple other vendors.”  


Since Ellucian no longer is contracted by City College, CampusWorks has taken over the administration of the system.


The new registration system has not only presented problems for students and faculty to manage the adding process, but the CCSFmail server has not been working as expected for some students. 


When students place an add request to a course, they are supposed to receive an email from the system alerting them that their request has been approved. However, many students are claiming that they did not receive this notice, losing their spot in their class. 


In an Aug. 26 town hall meeting, Interim Chancellor Dr. Rajen Vurdien said, “Zoom and Canvas have been working fine. Registration is working with faculty and staff to solve problems.”


One problem is adding classes.  In one situation where a student was trying to add a horticulture class, she wasn’t able to add even with over three weeks of repeated attempts.


Brown said, “As a department chair, I can only approve.  If you pull up the roster it looks like the student added twice.  She’s been trying to add this class for three weeks and she still isn’t able to add. If I go to Faculty Services, Revoke Class Authorization, select a semester, it has a drop-down menu for my classes only.  As department chair, I can’t see anything else. I can only do mine.”


During the Summer term, City College also introduced a new registration system called College Scheduler.


Dr. Vurdien said that “some faculty and staff will be put on campus to personally help students as of September 8, 2020 to navigate registration issues.”


“We asked Tom Boegel to fix the system,” Brown added.


Vurdien’s comments were met with disbelief from some faculty members at the town hall meeting.  They questioned whether late start classes would begin with the same registration problems.


Journalism student An Pham said, “When I was trying to register for all of my classes, they were remote, and the system didn’t show that I have any schedule for those classes. Yet, in order to register for classes, I needed a schedule planned. So I had this problem for three weeks straight where I didn’t know what to do.”


Further, he said that after he emailed the registration office, he did not get a reply until three days later.


Journalism Department Chair Juan Gonzales instructed Pham to contact registration on Zoom.  There, Pham “was on hold for one hour.”  


Pham added, “My problem got fixed by a simple change in the setting, but it was not included in the instruction.”


Brown continued, “I want to be able to email students. Dean Terry Hall set up a program where we could access the department and email students. We could track enrollments. It has fallen away.”


The Guardsman