How to schedule classes efficiently?
September 24, 2011 10:19 AM   Subscribe

New college needs to schedule classes, including required courses and electives. Constraints include (a) requirements as to the total number of hours each class must meet per week, varying as to credit hours awarded (typically entailing 2-5 hours per week) -- but permitting flexibility in terms of number of sessions per week (1-5), what time of day they meet, and so forth; (b) scarce classroom space, of varied room capacity, for classes of varied expected sizes. Instructors not such a big constraint. Seeking advice to pass on about software that optimizes the use of space and maximizes the number of potential class offerings, or kinds of people with background that could be consulted. Cheapness desired -- think of the children! -- but not indispensable. Thanks!
posted by Clyde Mnestra to Education (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I think Kuali Student will do this for free eventually (several years from now?). In the meantime, Astra Schedule Suite and EMS Campus are costly solutions I'm aware of that integrate with Banner, Jenzabar, etc. The people to consult with are Educause, e.g. the Educause CIO mailing list. And it's likely a CIO from a peer institution (same size/focus/budget as your new college) would be willing to answer an email or take a call about this to discuss what their school is using.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 10:46 AM on September 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

You could find a friendly maths/quantsci graduate who could formulate your requirements as a simple linear program which they could solve using free software.
posted by cromagnon at 2:01 PM on September 24, 2011

College registrars are the folks that do this work; my mother, back in the day, handled this task by spreading out index cards all over our living room floor. She made a grid (rooms on one axis, by buildings and capacity, and time slots on the other). Long classes would be represented by several index cards taped together. She later switched to a spreadsheet and, eventually, one of the programs Monsieur Caution mentions.

Another factor she considered concerned the logical sequence of courses required to complete each major; thoughtful scheduling that avoided overlapping classes likely to appeal to the same group of people minimized students' need for a fifth year.
posted by carmicha at 3:47 PM on September 24, 2011

Very helpful, all, thanks!
posted by Clyde Mnestra at 9:56 AM on September 25, 2011

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