New website allows students to post module reviews

24 Sep 2018

By Jeanne Mah

NTUVibe was created so students can make informed decisions about what modules to take.

Students can now review the modules they have taken on a new student-created website, but professors say a strict regulation of the platform is necessary to ensure students are accountable for their comments.

At NTUVibe, students can rate how useful or difficult modules are by selecting the “positive”, “neutral”, or “negative” button and leave comments based on their experience. Each module’s page also details its course outline, and class and examination schedules.

The website was launched this August by three third-year students from the School of Computer Science and Engineering, who wish to remain anonymous.

They said they created NTUVibe so students can make informed decisions about what modules to take.

One creator said: “We want NTU students to know what to expect from modules, such as their assessment criteria, after reading students’ reviews.”

Well received by students

In less than two months, the site has garnered more than 2,400 views and now has about 95 registered users. Students have to register with their usernames and NTU email addresses in order to post reviews; only usernames are shown with each review.

Students who used the platform said it has helped them to decide which modules to take.

Danielle Lavinia, a second-year Social of Social Sciences (SSS) student, said that the website gives a more comprehensive view of a module by including students’ perspectives.

“Course outlines often describe modules positively and do not always portray accurately how useful or engaging classes are,” said the 21-year-old.

“I think finding out about a module through a student’s review is more authentic,” she added.

Second-year Civil and Environmental Engineering student Loi Jing Ying, 20, added: “If (after reading the reviews) I think the module will not suit me, I will not even ballot for it, which frees up space to ballot for other modules.”

Accountability is key

Nevertheless, some professors feel that students should not be allowed to leave reviews anonymously.

At NTUVibe, students may register with any username they want. Only the website’s creators can track usernames to their email addresses and identify them.

Assistant Professor Ana Cristina Dias Alves from SSS said it is unfair to professors if students post rude or unfair remarks under a veil of anonymity.

“Revealing the name of each student that posts a comment makes them accountable for what they say online,” added the Public Policy and Global Affairs lecturer.

Other professors feel that such online reviews may not always be accurate.

Professor Ang Peng Hwa from the Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information, said: “Students may post hateful remarks in the heat of the moment just because they are frustrated with the content taught.”

He urged students to choose modules based on their interests rather than on online reviews.

Regulatory measures

While the website’s creators do not plan to remove the option of anonymity or screen every review on the site, they hope to add an option for students, including unregistered users, to report inappropriate reviews.

“Even if one student reports it, we will look at the review and decide if it should be removed,” one creator said, adding that hate or discriminatory speech will not be tolerated.

By end-October, they also plan to add a function which allows users to indicate if the review was helpful or unhelpful.

“Reviews which receive the most number of helpful ratings are highly likely to be sound while reviews which many people disagree with may be untrue or offensive, which we will look into,” he said.

“Comments will not be taken down due to low quality or overwhelming downvotes. They will only be taken down if they are reported to be offensive,” he added.

But the team is not expecting too many inappropriate reviews: “We trust our fellow NTU students to use the platform responsibly for the benefit of others.”