Instructor Preferences, Course Relationships, and Approval Workflows: Optimized and Automated


September 8, 2020


Jimmy Montchal


Class Scheduling

This fall, Harvard will not be opening its campus for the first time in 384 years. The University of Oregon is offering primarily remote instruction, while holding limited in-person labs, studio experience, and small classes. At James Madison University, a mix of in-person, online, and hybrid courses are beginning, with some classes being taught outdoors.

Whatever path you’ve chosen for your institution’s fall semester, we hope that things are going smoothly. And that you, your staff, your faculty, and (most of all) your students are staying safe and healthy. This is truly a semester like no other.

Today, we cover how optimizing and automating your scheduling for faculty preferences and the relationships between courses and sections can make your life a lot easier. And how the same is true of automated approval workflows.

Optimizing for Instructor Preferences

Rather than playing email tag, using paper forms, or struggling with Excel spreadsheets to determine what times, days, and rooms work best for instructors, your scheduling platform should do this automatically. Here’s why:

  • It allows all preferences to be taken into account (days, times, class room types, equipment needed).
  • Those preferences allow the computer program (algorithm) to take them into account when building the schedule.
  • Then, if (or when) conflicts arise after you build the initial schedule, the software can take into account the preferences to find the best fit for any changes that are needed.

Optimizing for Courses and Sections

The same is true for optimizing scheduling for courses with sections. The ability to specify relationships between courses and sections ensures course offerings are best aligned to student needs. For example, you want to make sure corequisites happen at different times, or maybe you want general education requirements to all happen at the same time.

 Automating Workflows

Scheduling is also about workflows. (If you’re a professional school, this is a big one for you.) A unified scheduling platform should offer a workflow engine that allows your administrators to replicate campus workflows by designating stakeholders and their relevant permissions. This dynamic workflow construction tool can then automatically route the right form to the right person. Easy peasy.

 Embracing End-to-End Scheduling

Although we’ve talked about optimizing for instructor preferences, scheduling is ultimately about meeting your students’ needs and contributing to their success. For many institutions, this mean broadening their understanding of the scheduling process to include not just rooms, but also courses, policies, preferences, approval workflows, exceptions, last-minute changes, and analytics.

We believe the way to accomplish this is with a comprehensive scheduling platform, one that aligns and automates all the components of the scheduling process to meet the needs of all stakeholders, especially current (and potential) students. We also believe that the role of the registrar is changing to one of empowerment, innovation, and enablement. End-to-end scheduling can be a big contributor to this evolution.

 In the meantime, remember that Coursedog can help by running potential scenarios or a free analysis of your schedule. Stay the course, registrars. We’re all in this together.

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