What’s the hardest part of scheduling?
Everything—balancing classes, various cohorts of students, faculty demands, and, of course, social distancing guidelines given the pandemic. There are so many shifting pieces that it really is an art.
What does a great schedule accomplish for a school?
A great schedule allows a school to be flexible. Classes, instructors, students invariably change and a great schedule allows you to build in flexibility and consistency.
What’s a common misconception about scheduling?
You only do it once. Scheduling, I’ve learned, is an iterative process. Because a schedule tries to balance so many competing demands, it’s bound to change.
What’s a common mistake you see in schedules?
Assuming that the schedule is ‘finalized’. I’ve learned that no schedule is ever truly final—it just hasn’t been changed yet.
Do you ever get pushback on the schedule?
Yes, faculty often push back on when they teach or what room they teach in. With software-generated schedules, some of the pushback is eliminated because faculty get to indicate their preferences in advance.
What’s the worst thing that's ever happened to your schedule?
This past academic year was my first time making the schedule, so I'm still a newbie. But undoubtedly, the worst thing that's happened would be COVID-19. It forced everyone to rethink room capacities; numbers of people in the building; modalities for instruction. It forced many faculty members to move classes online. All of this upset the schedule immensely. I must have redone the schedule 3 or 4 times, and it’s still not finished as the pandemic continues to shift.
I’ve found the best way to deal with it is to know that many changes will be made and to make them on a daily basis. Otherwise, tasks build up and become overwhelming.
What’s one piece of advice you have for someone just starting as a schedule-maker?
Use ofCourse software! Once you get the hang of it (and it’s quite intuitive) it makes schedule-making as easy as it can be. Plus, any changes are saved in real-time so that everyone has access to any alterations. It’s made the scheduling side of my job much easier. Now if only the pandemic would cooperate!