Online evals best option for the U

Daily Editorial Board

Starting this fall, the University of Minnesota will publish certain elements of students’ end-of-course evaluations online. 
 
Students will be able to access information regarding their peers’ experiences in a course, which could pertain to its workload, grading standards or level of student enjoyment. However, because Minnesota state law prohibits the University from publicly releasing information on its personnel, none of the accessible comments will evaluate specific professors’ performances.
 
The course evaluations will be available unless individual professors object. Under the previous regulations, professors had to specifically place a request for their courses’ evaluations to be published online. However, only about 5 percent of professors made that choice. 
 
We are glad to see that course evaluations will be more accessible. The new system will allow students to easily evaluate whether they are interested in — or prepared for — a particular course. With luck, this will improve attendance rates and classroom performance while reducing the number of students who drop courses midway through the semester. 
 
With evaluation results now online, we feel that the next necessary step is to digitize the evaluations process itself. Under such a system, students would need to complete an online end-of-course evaluation before they receive an official mark of completion for their course.
 
Such a system would drastically reduce paper consumption. With the evaluation results now online, it would also save administrative workers the time it takes to type hundreds of thousands of handwritten records to prepare them for online publication.