Adopting Class Scheduling Rules to Drive Departmental Scheduling Autonomy
Two scheduling experts from Northern Arizona University share how they successfully revamped their course schedule. They provide a roadmap for decreasing manual data entry, establishing scheduling policies, and empowering departmental schedulers.
All too often, registrar offices are in the unenviable position of serving as the referee during course scheduling. The registrar office receives a course schedule from each academic department, painstakingly goes through all the submitted schedules, identifies conflicts or rules violations, and then must go back and forth with departments to fix identified issues. Scheduling gurus Bonita Switala, Associate Registrar and Grant Burden, Class and Resource Facilitator at Northern Arizona University recently sat down with us to discuss the transformational effect scheduling rules has had on their campus.
Map Scheduling Processes and Pain Points to Set Departments Up for Success
Prior to implementing a scheduling technology solution, NAU faced challenges that are all too common in higher ed today. The registrar's office manually entered data into their SIS leading to duplicate work, data inconsistencies, and time-consuming change requests. Additionally, academic units had to rely on the registrar's office to make schedule changes and enforce policies. When NAU made the decision to adopt a scheduling solution, they made it their mission to map out all of the policies and best practices they needed to establish to set departments up for scheduling success. This exercise also forced administrators to begin a high level discussion of critical scheduling policies and historic pain points at the institution.
"We were able to customize the system with our rules and we built somewhere around 100 rules and filters. For us to be able to do that, it was huge because we could give it back to the academic units while also ensuring that fields were accurate and complete" - Bonita Switala, Associate Registrar
Align Scheduling Rules with Desired Outcomes
Once NAU determined which scheduling rules were essential for scheduling success, the team built rules and filters in the platform to enforce the identified scheduling policies. The built-in rules helped NAU achieve several desired outcomes including:
- Increased autonomy and ownership for departmental schedulers
- Eliminated the need for manual queries and data integrity checks due to customizable automations and workflows
- Decreased time spent processing change requests
- Reduced tension between the registrar's office and academic departments over policy enforcement
"We were able to reduce the number of queries that we run. We ran them for several months into using the Coursedog platform just to see, and sure enough we didn't see any of those errors for those rules that we built. We feel very confident that they're working as they should." - Grant Burden, Class and Resource Facilitator
Grant and Bonita see the implementation of a scheduling solution at NAU as a win-win for the registrar's office and academic units. In addition to increased autonomy, academic units have access to a user friendly platform that provides accessible visualizations of the course schedule and potential conflicts. In the registrars office, the team enjoys a more efficient scheduling process that doesn't require time-consuming manual data entry and rule enforcement.