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Timetabling Project

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Timetabling Project Update: August 2012

  • The project is still on track for the successful completion of timetabling for session 2012/13
  • Only approximately 2% of activities for Semester 1 remain unscheduled as at the beginning of August (this figure relates only to activities to be scheduled into CPT space and excludes some unscheduled teaching activities for which departmental space has been requested)
  • A significant majority of activities have been scheduled as per the criteria specified by departments in terms of room specification, preferred day and time
  • The Timetabling Team will shortly contact departments to try to negotiate resolutions to the 2% of activities which remain unscheduled
  • In order to prepare the Departmental Training Co-ordinators for the next phase of development of the 2012/13 timetable, a series of training courses will take place in the second week of August. All DTCs have been contacted directly and invited to attend.

Overall the current position reflects a much healthier position than at this time last year and it is hoped that this trend will continue over the coming month. However there may be some fluctuation in the perfcentage of unscheduled activites as departments begin to make some changes to teaching availability arising from unpredicted changes to student numbers, non-availability of staff etc.

The Provisional Standard Start Timetable is being released on the 6th of August and can be viewed at Timetables. All staff are reminded of their responsibility to check their own teaching activities and are also asked to remember that these timetables are provisional and, as in previous years, it may be necessary to alter scheduled activities without prior consultation, until the final draft is issued in September.

Timetabling Project Update: May 2012

  • A new Timetabling Policy has been approved by the Executive Team, a copy of which can be viewed at Timetabling Policy
  • The staff resources within the Timetabling Team have been significantly strengthened.
  • The training of the Departmental Timetabling Coordinators is progressing well and is being supplemented by ongoing support.
  • The four Vice/Associate Deans Academic will continue in their overall role through Semester 1 of 2012-13, when it is envisaged that much of the role will be taken over by the Faculty Timetabling Coordinators.
  • The need for additional (reserve) teaching facilities to compensate for the effects of the James Weir Building fire has been fully recognised and significant additional facilities have now been identified that can be incorporated within the timetabling process.  Full details of these will be released shortly.
  • The data collection on teaching activities is generally on target although substantial additional work is still required in some areas.
  • 22 May is the final date for submission of the data on teaching activities for 2012-13.  It is hoped that any data that is outstanding at this date will be very small and it is expected that the relevant DTCs will be able to provide it promptly.

While the project is largely on track at present, the task of delivering this first timetable for the single campus in 2012-13, particularly with the effects of the James Weir Building fire, remains challenging.  In order to ensure successful delivery for this first year the emphasis must be on minimum constraints to the timetabling and maximum availability and flexibility of teaching staff.  The Executive Deans are fully supportive of this and the support of Heads of Department is also vitally important. In subsequent years, following the successful introduction, the timetable can be further developed and refined with benefits for students and staff.

Timetabling Project Update: March 2012

Workshop for Departmental Timetabling Coordinators
A project workshop was organised recently, attended by all the Departmental Timetabling Coordinators (DTCs). Many thanks to all those who attended and contributed to the event, and indeed for all the hard work they have contributed over the past year. The workshop looked at a number of issues including some of the lessons learned over the past year of the project, the importance of the required culture change within the timetabling process, the role of the DTCs in the process and the move to a single campus.

The workshop also provided an opportunity to air, and in some cases address, some of the issues which are concerning the DTCs. These concerns range from the difficulty of adjusting from a process of room booking to one of centrally coordinated timetabling, communication with academics about the changes in timetabling, the required level of support from the Timetabling Team over the past few months and complexities in viewing online timetables. These are just a few of the issues raised and which the Project Steering Group will need to try and address over the coming months.

Training Programme
For Academic Session 2012/13, a coordinated timetable will be produced, as opposed to Departments timetabling locally and this then being reflected as room bookings in the system. However, a significant amount of timetabling data from Academic Session 2011/12 is currently stored in Syllabus Plus and this data has gone through a cleansing process in liaison with the DTCs. This 2011/12 teaching activity data will roll forward to form the basis of the 2012/13 timetable (the room bookings however will not roll forward) and is already stored in the Syllabus Plus Timetabling System. Therefore it has been decided that Departmental Timetabling Coordinators will all be trained in Syllabus Plus system in order that they can validate, amend and augment their data ahead of the production of the 2012/13 timetable.

The initial training in Syllabus Plus is likely to take place in April. All Departmental Timetabling Coordinators will be invited to attend and are encouraged to do so. The training will entail a high ratio of Timetabling Team staff to DTC delegates. The sessions will be tailored depending on the complexity of course delivery and will predominately, though not necessarily exclusively, be structured and delivered on a per Faculty basis.

The training will initially be delivered in a 4 hour session, with the first part of the session focussing on the softer-skills of how to approach the process of timetabling, before moving onto the functional aspects of storing and manipulating this information in Syllabus Plus. The session will also allow DTCs to work through examples relating to their own Department/School. DTCs will then proceed to work on validating and amending their departmental data in Syllabus Plus

Follow Up Training and Support
Following the initial training, further follow up sessions will be arranged with the Timetabling Team at which DTCs will have the opportunity to clarify any questions they may have regarding complex course delivery ahead of completing the exercise of refining their own timetabling data.

 What is the timeline for this year?
A timeline for the 2012/13 timetabling process has been sent to all Departmental Timetabling Coordinators and is also be available to view here - Revised Timeline. This timeline details the major milestones over the coming months and the points at which significant input from departmental Timetable Coordinators is required.

Contacts

Staff who wish to keep up to date on the project or input views/queries may: