Easily Map out your Most Successful Academic Future
Harvard Graduate Degree Capstone

Title: Crowdsourced Student Education Planner Prototype

Crowdsourced Student EdPlanner

My Graduate capstone was a Crowdsourced Student Education Planner Prototype web application to assist students in the most effective course selection and sequence to reach their academic & career goals.

  • Value Proposition #1: Easily map out your academic future
  • Value Proposition #2: Collaborate with other students on course selection
  • Value Proposition #3: Select best courses to maximize your potential career goals

The following are explanations of common terms that are frequently used in this capstone proposal to assist with context.

Student Schedule are the courses that a student is actively taking that semester, normally presented in a calendar view with time blocks for each course.

Student Education Plans (SEP) are roadmaps for completing your student goals, certificates, degrees or transfer.  The roadmaps are divided by term and list the sequence of courses you would take over a set time period.

Historically, “Student Education Plans” are done by using a paper worksheet or are part of an expensive Degree Audit System deployed by a College or University.

Student Education Planner would be an online system modeled from the traditional paper worksheet where a student could build out their preferred sequence of classes.

Degree Audit System is a tool that allows a student to select a major and it evaluates the courses they have taken against the degree requirements to dynamically display the areas they have fulfilled or where there are gaps.

Crowdsourcing is user-generated content (UGC) created by large number of unpaid contributors. The more user contributions, the more beneficial the system becomes for everyone.

STudent Education Planners May Also be Refered to as:

  • Online Academic Advising
  • Degree Audit, Degree Planner, Degree Plan, Degree Navigator, Degree Map
  • Graduation Planner, Grad Planner
  • Education Plan, Ed Planner, Ed Plan
  • Interactive Audit
  • Traditional Degree Plan
  • Personal Graduation Plan (PGP)
  • My Academic Plan (MAP), Individualized Academic Plan, Academic Plan

Identifying the Problem

As a student at the Harvard Extension I found myself spending countless hours deciding which courses I should take for my major, based on the requirements, prerequisites, courses offered and my personal interests or career goals.  I faced the following core issues:

  • Paper Solution: Using a printed worksheet or template and manually writing in classes is a dated modality and may need to be recreated from scratch every term as course offerings change.
  • Courses with Requisites: It can be very confusing for a student trying to determine a timeline of courses when you must consider prerequisites and corequisites. When filling in a paper worksheet, it does not dynamically remind you of the requisites and factor that into your schedule management.
  • Courses No Longer Offered: I had originally planned to take “CSCI E-56 Web Application Development with Groovy and Grails, BootstrapJS, and AngularJS” for Fall 2017, but the class was no longer offered. Since I had mapped out a sequence of courses based on prerequisites this disrupted multiple semesters of planning.  If colleges had an inventory of student ed plans they would have important forecasting data necessary to plan course offerings.
  • Career Pathways: With over 130 courses offered within the Digital Media Program(Digital Media Design Degree Courses, 2018) there are thousands of combinations of courses to complete your degree.  Knowing which courses will benefit you most based on your career goals would be helpful in course selection.

Each student contributing to their own Education Plan will also indirectly benefit other students on the system.  All created Education Plans will generate generic templates that other students can model.  There will be a disclaimer on the site that the templates provided are student generated, not college vetted and it is still strongly encouraged that the student meets with their college academic advisor with their proposed plan.

EdPlans by Goals

Students can browse existing EdPlans by goals. For example, students pursuing a “Digital Media Design” degree may have different life goals, such as an Instructional Designer, Graphic Designer or Web Developer. The courses they select should be based on major AND their life goals.


Students reflect by providing the reason that each course selected will help achieve their goal. The student reflection provides a wealth of information to students with similar goals and administrators determining courses offerings.

EdPlan Voting

Students can select the favorite EdPlans and that will increase the EdPlan ranking for all students with similar goals. Students filtering by goal will see the highest ranked EdPlans listed first.

Guided Pathways

Colleges may want to create “Recommended Edplans” as “Guided Pathways” for each of their college academic goals. This can be a template for your students to clone and serves as a starting point when meeting with their advisors.

Predictive Analytics

Future Feature: Once enough plans are created, I hope to be able to generate reports of potential student enrollment each term in select courses to assist colleges in course offering to maximize enrollment & assist students in staying on-schedule

Smart Recommendations

The EdPlan system can make recommendations of courses based on the student’s primary college, goals and popularity of courses taken by other students with similar goals.


EdPlanner user various tools.

  • Laravel – A free, open-source, PHP web framework, created by Taylor Otwell and intended for the development of web applications following the model–view–controller (MVC) architectural pattern and based on Symfony.
  • Laravel Spark – A paid tool built by the creator of Laravel, Taylor Otwell, to make it quicker to build SaaS applications. It handles user authentications, plans and payments and coupons, and team logic.
  • MYSQL – An Oracle-backed open source relational database management system (RDBMS) based on Structured Query Language.
  • Twitter Bootstrap – An open source toolkit for developing with HTML, CSS, and JS to build responsive, mobile-first projects on the web.
  • jQuery – jQuery is an open source JavaScript library, provided for free under the MIT license, that allows web developers to add extra functionality to their websites.
  • GoJS – An evaluation version of a paid JavaScript and TypeScript library for building interactive diagrams and graphs.


  • Composer
  • Laravel Framework 5.8+
  • Laravel Mix
  • Bootstrap 4 (SASS)
  • Node.js & NPM