MiddCourses, currently under maintenance, to return next week

By Rachel Lu

The go-link go/middcourses, which once took students to the site that housed several years’ worth of reviews for Middlebury courses and professors, now leads to the domain name registration site “namecheap.com.”

Students who rely heavily on MiddCourses — the site that allows students to anonymously review their professors and classes — may have feared the worst when their attempts to reach the platform brought them to a page stating only that the domain was registered at NameCheap.com. The site became a mainstay for course registration when it was first developed in 2014, allowing students to see student-sourced information about individual classes and professors, including weekly time spent preparing for class, lecture quality and grading expectations. 

Though MiddCourses is currently out of order, the Student Government Association Innovations and Technology Committee is working to fix the outdated features that led to the site’s shutdown. Committee members estimate that MiddCourses will be up and running again in about a week. The committee has also planned some new upgrades for the future.

MiddCourses is run through the cloud hosting service Heroku, which requires a working stack of code that makes up all aspects of the website, according to Innovations and Technology Committee Director Lizeth Lucero ’21. In order to continue running, MiddCourses’ stack needed to be regularly updated, but it had not been touched since the creators graduated. The SGA Technology and Innovation Committee is currently upgrading the codebase and checking on any other dependencies to make sure the website can run smoothly in the future.

While the site is under maintenance, SGA is also planning to make other upgrades, including adding new professors and courses to the website. 

SGA also hopes to incorporate textbook reviews on MiddCourses. Lucero hopes this will help students know in advance what textbooks are required for a course, how much they cost and whether they might be able to get them for free.

The site was originally conceived as a computer science project by then-SGA Director of Technology Dana Silver ’15 and Teddy Knox ’15. The SGA Innovation and Technology Committee took over the site as part of the Student Project Pipeline (SPP) initiative in spring 2014.

The SPP allows students to submit their projects to the SGA to be managed and upgraded even after the student has graduated. SGA members can also acquire projects by reaching out to the original owners. Lucero believes this process ensures that projects remain up-to-date and in line with current students’ needs.

In order to browse MiddCourses, students needed to make an account and post two reviews. The platform has received a steady stream of sign-ups each semester, according to Lucero. While the website has been down, Lucero said many students have reached out to inquire about its status, showing that they are eager to use MiddCourses as a course selection resource.

Niamh Carty ’23 told The Campus that MiddCourses has been a trusted resource for her during the course selection process, especially when the same class is taught by different professors.

“MiddCourses has been so helpful in choosing classes,” Carty said. “Whenever I have been deciding between two courses, I’ve gone onto MiddCourses to see which professor has better reviews. It hasn’t steered me wrong yet, so I definitely trust it a lot.” 

Professor of Political Science Matt Dickinson is unaware of MiddCourses but recalls its previous iteration, MiddKid, which he found unreliable because his reviews were often erroneously listed on the page for Professor of Computer Science Matt Dickerson. 

Dickinson is equally unimpressed by MiddKid’s successor, noting that the data captured is likely skewed. 

I would guess students who take the time to weigh in on courses outside of the normal course evaluation process are likely motivated by strong views — either very positive or very negative — about a particular course or professor, and thus aren’t likely to be indicative of students’ views in general and therefore wouldn’t be very useful to professors, or other students,” Dickinson said.