I attended the JISC Timetabling workshop on 14th October 2008 in Manchester run by Oakleigh Consulting Limited, appointed JISC to run the study on timetabling and resource scheduling. This workshop included participants from HE and FE sectors. The workshop was divided into three main sessions. The first and the second covered the general positioning and the process model in timetabling whilst the third concentrated on drivers to it. The common processes involved in timetabling, problems in the current processes, how current and re-engineered processes are supported by technology and finally the actual links between timetabling, resource scheduling, and curriculum delivery and planning and course delivery were also discussed.
One of the sessions covered the position that most institutions take with regard to the three high level approaches/drivers to timetabling. The approaches/drivers are:
1. Distributed scheduling and requirements identification –central location allocation
2. Distributed scheduling and requirements identification and allocation of locally ‘owned ‘ locations – central location allocation of ‘high demand’ pooled locations
3. Distributed requirements identification –central scheduling and location allocation
The three high level approaches which are applicable to both central or distributed allocation, include factors such as depends on efficiency, curriculum complexity, locus of control, culture , student satisfaction (retention perspective), physical layout(environment) and so on. Most universities fall somewhere between the second and third but generally aim for the first one.
The workshop included a lot of participation from the audience. We were divided into groups to answer some scenarios on timetabling and resource scheduling. A sample is given below.
Scenario: Cross institutional delivery is becoming increasingly common.
Question: What process improvements can be made in this area to achieve benefits such as production of a single timetable for students, effective transfer of information etc?
Answer: Cross institutional delivery started in the FE sector. As the main challenge is the liaison between people and planning, then course development and resource planning must go hand in hand.
Oakleigh Consulting Services have published their final report with the ultimate deliverables from the timetabling study .