CourseGem, an application designed to provide students with easier access to school pages, has been made available to Emory University students, according to the program’s creator and Goizueta Business School senior Aaron Fisher.
According to Fisher, the free downloadable Google Chrome extension provides users with an auto-generated drop-down menu of all Emory courses which a user is registered for and also simultaneously signs users into Blackboard and OPUS. In addition, it provides links to school calendars and signs into Emory email.
Fisher, an Atlanta native, lives in Israel and attends college at IDC Herzliya. Currently, Fisher is enrolled in an exchange program at the Goizueta Business School.
Fisher said the program first stemmed from a common scenario on other college campuses in which students were forced to access different websites for email and other course information.
CourseGem is also available at the University of Pennsylvania, Wharton School of Business, Washington University in St. Louis, the University of Maryland and IDC Herzliya, according to the program’s website.
“I decided to check one of my course websites for updates,” Fisher wrote in an email to the Wheel. “Just like the previous few hundred times, I went to my school website, clicked on the web portal, entered my username and password into the login prompt, waited for a list of my courses to load and finally clicked on the desired course.”
To streamline what he believes is a unnecessarily complicated process, Fisher said he decided to write the program to try to solve the problem.
The program consists of a button in the browser, which when clicked, will automatically log in the user and bring them to a list of courses they are registered in, Fisher said.
Fisher expanded his program while at Emory when he was persuaded by his professor, Benn Konsynski, the George S. Craft Distinguished University Professor of Information Systems and Operations Management, to bring the application to Emory.
An integral part of the program is entering and storing a student’s confidential Net ID and password on his or her browser. This feature worries some, including Emory journalism professor Lee Clontz.
Emory University itself recently required all students to change their passwords in response to a breach of information technology infrastructure, according to an Aug. 21 University press release.
“It does, if you know how to look, show your password in plain text,” Clontz said. “I would not be an advocate for people saving sensitive passwords of any kind on their browser. I do get the convenience. I just think people need to really strongly weigh whether the small inconvenience of entering a password is worth the risk – and frankly for me, I don’t think it is.”
College sophomore Brett Lichtenberg shared the same sentiment.
“Though the program seems to make life easier, I don’t know if I’d want to have to worry about the off-chance of something happening,” Lichtenberg said.
On the other hand, some students trust the application.
“I feel comfortable putting it in because I don’t think they’re truly interested in my information. I do think it’s worth it because of how low, I think, the risks are,” College freshman Jake Mor said.
In response to concerns over the program’s security, Fisher said that “CourseGem doesn’t even store user credentials in an online database, so there isn’t much to elaborate upon here.”
Fisher added that the program is run entirely client-side and the data is inaccessible to any other website or extension.
–By Joe Toledano