Interactive online planner launched

Caroline Goldstein

A group of Villanova students have created an alternative to basic paper planners. Launched on Jan. 13, Nova Planner functions as a computerized calendar.

“It’s basically a planner that fills itself in,” said Co-Creator Tom Krueger, a sophomore management major.

Professors can add assignments to their calendars, which will then sync with the calendar of each student in that course, “filling itself in.”

“It allows for students to know exactly when a professor wants an assignment done by,” said Co-Creator Eric Adams, a junior political science, theology and philosophy triple major.

A professor can, in addition to posting an assignment’s due date, also add a link or attachment to the reading and a description of the assignment. Each student can add his or her meetings and activities into the planner. The creators hope to develop this program as an alternative to WebCT, which the University currently uses. 

“What we hope to be is the next WebCT,” Adams said. 

He and Krueger stress that Nova Planner is different from WebCT. 

“Unlike WebCT, it’s actually easy to use,” Krueger said. 

Their goal is to phase Nova Planner in for use by the entire University by fall 2010. 

Adams said that they would like to offer the system to the University at minimal cost. Once Nova Planner is functioning at Villanova, the creators hope to market it to other universities.

The idea for Nova Planner began this past summer while Adams and Krueger were on a study-abroad trip in London. 

They were sitting on a bus traveling from Windsor Castle to London brainstorming ideas about starting a business. Their initial idea was to mentor students in time management. Adams and Krueger then realized they could do just that, but in the form of a computer program.

“We had this joking tone,” Adams said.

Little did they know that what they had joked about on that bus ride would turn into an incorporated business, Student Planning Solutions, LLC. Adams and Krueger began working on Nova Planner while still in London.

The first step they took was to draft a personal contract, which specified the terms of their ownership in the event that their business became a corporation. Adams also drew a picture of the user interface, or the design, of Nova Planner. When they returned to school in the fall, they enlisted the help of junior computer engineering major Ted Janeczko. Janeczko did much of the programming for the program.

“Every user interface portion of the program has been designed by Tom and implemented by Ted,” Adams said. 

Nova Planner is currently being used as a test run in Dr. Peggy Chaudhry’s business classes and in Dr. Tim Horner’s ACS classes and Dilemma of Genocide course.

“I hope to use Nova Planner as a ‘one stop shop’ for my class,” Horner said. “Each day’s activities are posted. Exams and essays and readings and hyperlinks are all laid out in an organized fashion.”

Horner noted that Nova Planner allows professors and students to communicate faster. 

“It is way too creepy for me to have a Facebook,” he said. “But [this system] allows me to be more noticeable and accessible to my students,” he said.

By next fall, Adams and Krueger hope to add to Nova Planner’s capabilities. 

Additions would include the ability for professors to post grades, the submission of assignments by students and discussions boards and chat rooms.

“We’re encouraging any and all professors who want to learn more about it or implement it in their classes to contact us,” Adams said. 

Individual students can also contact Student Planning Solutions, LLC about using a free trial of Nova Planner.