Timetabling program to aid in scheduling

Britni Williams

Kent State will start using a new scheduling program to help students graduate in four years.

Sally Kandel, associate vice president for academic operations and administration, said the Timetabling project began in 2003 but will go live in Spring 2012.

“We are trying to be more efficient so the students can graduate faster,” Kandel said.

Kandel said the Timetabling program should allow for conflict-free scheduling for students. A computer program will analyze student roadmaps to see which classes need to be taken at what times. It will ensure that students following the roadmaps will be able to take the classes that they need in order to graduate without struggling with overlapping classes.

According to the registrar’s website, the program sets up blocks for different time patterns. These time blocks will be a little different than what students are used to. Some classes could now be offered on Wednesdays and Fridays or on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. The times on each day will still be the same.The only change students will see is what days of the week a class is offered.

Gail Rebeta, manager of registrar office systems, said Timetabling will look at the Graduation Planning System roadmaps for each major and create course combinations, which will show how many sections of a certain class should be provided for the number of students who need to take that class.

According to the registrar’s Timetabling fact sheet, the program will also schedule classes based on classroom availability, capacity and characteristics as well as faculty availability and other class-specific parameters.

“The idea is we want to, at least from the undergraduate perspective, help students to graduate in four years if possible or as close to that as possible,” Rebeta said.

Timetabling will streamline how faculty schedule classes for their departments.

Rebeta said faculty will not have as much control over some aspects of creating a class section. Instead of faculty schedulers being able to pick the day and time of a course, they will choose a time pattern, for example three times a week and 50 minutes per day, and the system is supposed to find the optimal day and time to place the course taking into account room availability, faculty availability and students’ needs.

Alex Simon, freshman integrated language arts education major, said he hopes the change in scheduling won’t lead to having to take more Friday classes.

“I kind of expect Fridays to be winding down days,” Simon said.

Rebeta said they are trying to work around student needs.

“We have limited resources as far as rooms on campus,” Rebeta said. “As enrollment grows, well, we’re not growing new buildings. So we have to do the best we can with scheduling things at optimal times so that we utilize our rooms and buildings most efficiently.”

Rebeta said Timetabling should help students take the classes they need to graduate without having to wait a semester or year for a section to open up.

“Ultimately, we want to do what’s in the best interest of the students,” Rebeta said.

Contact Britni Williams at [email protected].