Blog Pile

They Should Call it Barrier not Banner

When I hear the word “Banner” I think of a colorful warm welcome

cc licensed ( BY ) flickr photo shared by woodleywonderworks

My experience with student information systems is negligible, and now my connotation os shifting more to

cc licensed ( BY NC ND ) flickr photo shared by Ani-Bee

In fact its so arcane I could not even find it easily in Google.

But here has been my experience in dealing with Banner the Student INformation System for my online class at University of Mary Washington. Maybe my problem is lack of Workshops and Training.

  • When registration opens, ds106 fills almost immediately, it is capped at 25. I am assuming students just get a “CLOSED” response when they try and register.
  • For the weeks leading up to class students email their instructors with various stories of their need for the class to graduate or their undying love for storytelling or their ultimate destiny asking for a registration override (I was getting emails last November for my class that started in January)
  • The system does not manage anything like an automated waitlist. I have to respond to the students and let them know I will add them if a spot opens up. Or I could be generous and go over the limit. I then have to process an override, email the student and tell them to register
  • Now here is where it gets crazy. If students are dropping before the class starts (and they do cause we scare them with how hard the class is) and the number goes below the cap ANY student can jump in and register if they try at a time when the enrollment is below the cap. Therefore they jump ahead of any students I have told by email that they are on a wait list, because it is not really wait list at all.
  • In the meantime, if this quick jump happens, I have no information that I have lost one student and gained another. This might not be huge in F2F class, where I can see someone new and get them the course info. But in an online class, I have to keep checking the registration, match it agains my own spreadsheet I have to maintain to know who is active, and then start firing off copies of all the emails a new student and missed because of their late entry.

This is worthy of Brazil. The movie.

I spend a ton of time checking the registration site, emailing, and it puts a ding on a student who has to do a bunch of catchup.

I find no banners here only barriers.

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An early 90s builder of web stuff and blogging Alan Levine barks at on web storytelling (#ds106 #4life), photography, bending WordPress, and serendipity in the infinite internet river. He thinks it's weird to write about himself in the third person. And he is 100% into the Fediverse (or tells himself so) Tooting as


  1. What’s absolutely insane about Banner is that (at least in Virginia) they have a complete monopoly on higher education. Every school I’ve ever talked to uses them. Big and small. For such an awful piece of software at such a massive expense, there is almost no competition in the field. Crazytown.

    1. It’s not just Virginia, most higher ed Universities and Colleges use one of two Student Information Systems, Banner or PeopleSoft/Oracle. Having used both they are both clumsy, and full of kludgy goodness. If you think LMS’s are bloated, wait til you see what garbage you have to deal with when you use the SIS.

  2. Alan, I feel your pain. Having dug into the Banner interface, I can tell you that it is a system designed to crunch numbers, not serve individual users. Where these systems fall down HARD is on their front-end functionality. If they would kindly open up their data via secure web services, they could let real third-party web developers design workflows that would sit on top of the data and serve the users rather than the number crunchers. This is what happens when they try to crunch a legacy mainframe system into the web with the promise of ‘ta-da!’ instant usability. You can’t get there from here, and they never will, until they open it up with a decent API.

  3. It’s even worse when Banner has the wrong cap for a course – either students think they are shut out when they actually could get in once it’s fixed, or students end up getting dropped. The former happened to me once. Very aggravating.

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