Alexander Smith: Mannheim: Course Registration & Online Portals



Guten abend! I am writing this blog post from the TGV train (train a grande vitesse) probably traveling at close to 300km/h on my way to Paris, France for the weekend. However, the focus of this post will be sort of a continuation of the confusing procedures at the university of mannheim, this time I will try to explain the process of course registration, and the online learning portals used by the university.
Similar to Drexel, mannheim utilizes a few different online portals/platforms through which you do many of. The logistical tasks as well as find course content.
One of the important portals they used is appropriately named : Portal2. Upon arriving at the university, we heard many people in the orientations talking about the Portal2, a new system that was just released over the summer. Apparently, this new system was developed and released without any testing being done, resulting in a number of problems for students that use this portal to register for courses and exams- very important for some of the classes that will fill up. Hopefully, for any future students who may be reading this blog, the issues with the portal 2 system will be resolved before you would be coming to mannheim, but my experience with the portals 2 hasn’t been so great. It is terribly slow, and I ran into problems with registering for some courses, where the system didn’t show the link for registration, and it turned out this was not just an isolated problem.
In addition to the Portal 2, there is also ILIAS, which is their online learning platform where professors can post power points, problem sets, etc. ILIAS would be akin to Blackboard Learn, whereas portal 2 has many of the functions that Drexel one does. In addition to registering for the courses on the portal 2 system, you also generally have to “join” them on the ILIAS platform as well.
If that wasn’t confusing enough, there was also some confusion about whether we even had to register I’m the first place. On the course catalog, there were a number of courses that said registration requirement TBA or no registration required, but then you’d get to class and the professors would require you to register. Additionally, if you want credit for the final exams, you have to register for the exams separately from the class itself, which is different from how we do our course registration in the U.S.
In the end, I was able to register for all the courses I needed, and they all showed up inn ILIAS, but only after quite a bit of frustration and confusion. Once again, I was amused by the lack of organization and forethought from mannheim, surprising of course due to the common stereotype that Germans are very orderly and efficient. Much of the confusion stemmed from the hasty rollout of the portal 2 system before testing it I’m sure, and maybe won’t be such a big issue in the future.
In my next posts I’ll talk a bit about the city of mannheim itself, and also about the classes themselves and what they are like. In the meantime, I’ll leave you with a picture of the Wasserturm (water tower) in mannheim, one of the city’s most famous landmarks. Tchüß!

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