Monday, January 27, 2014

New Scheduling System: What You Need to Get What You Want

by David Porreca and Bryan Tolson

This week’s blog post intends to inform UW faculty about the nitty-gritty details of the new scheduling system.  Here are a series of useful tips that should help colleagues navigate the new Infosilem scheduling system.

Preamble:
The results of the survey related to Simulation 3 of the new scheduling system were presented for consideration at the Faculty Relations Committee simultaneously with the university’s decision to go ahead with the implementation of the software system for the Spring term of 2014.  The results of the survey were lukewarm. The responses were averaged out so as to dissimulate any extraordinary schedules, good or bad.  These averaged results were not so bad as to justify a concerted attempt to stop the implementation of the system, while not being so good as to justify cheering its arrival.  Conclusion: we must live with it for better or for worse, with a view to making the best of a sub-optimal situation.  Here are some tips for faculty members:

Tip 1: Identify your departmental time tabling representative (in some departments also known as the scheduling officer).  Make sure that your department has implemented a transparent procedure for requesting accommodation in your schedule.

Tip 2: The Registrar’s Office maintains a list of examples of the sorts of accommodations can be requested.
Do not hesitate to take advantage of the opportunities for accommodation that are allowed within this framework.

Tip 3: Do not hesitate to contact the Registrar’s Office and the Faculty Association (president: David Porreca; administrative officer: Pat Moore) with any problems you face with the new system.  We shall be compiling these to help make the implementation of the new system as beneficent to faculty colleagues as possible.

FAUW Pushing for Scenario Analysis: Spring Term

I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest at least 99% of instructors and 100% of students do not want a Friday afternoon class scheduled later than 4:30 pm in the Spring term.  So I would love to see the Registrar’s Office (RO) schedule the Spring term with no classes after 4:30 on Fridays.  That should be extremely easy to input in Infosilem software and I strongly suspect it would yield no noticeable degradation in the quality of the scheduling objectives (elective satisfaction rate or others).  In fact, I would hope the RO is capable of running two simulations (Fridays end at 4:30 vs Fridays end at 5:30) to evaluate if an early end to Friday classes does in fact notably degrade the schedule quality.

The above paragraph is a simple example of a useful exercise in modelling called scenario analysis.  Understandably, the RO is still learning and developing skills needed to run the Infosilem software and as such they have yet to do any types of scenario analysis FAUW is aware of (i.e., build multiple schedules under alternative inputs).  However, I’m sure most readers as well as RO staff can think of very important and useful scenarios that should be evaluated.  As such, FAUW will continue asking the RO to build their capacity so that they can evaluate alternative scenarios.  You could help by asking a Provost’s Advisory Committee for Timetabling (PACT) representative or your timetabling representative to request that the RO commit to evaluating alternative scenarios and thus plan to build multiple schedules with Infosilem every term.

Questions? Comments? Please respond below or to the FAUW President, David Porreca.

2 comments :

  1. Well put. From the student perspective, I am disappointed that multiple scenarios were not explored. I've been the graduate representative on PACT since day one (when it was still called PACUT) and at every meeting since then, over 2 years ago, I've asked for multiple simulations. There should be dozens, not three. Imagine a master's student publishing results with only one repetition of a single experiment or simulation!

    Please keep pushing, everyone, for more simulations! The students need an alternative to a cap of 10 consecutive hours of class!

    Robert Henderson
    President of the Graduate Student Association

    ReplyDelete
  2. Well put. From the student perspective, I am disappointed that multiple scenarios were not explored. I've been the graduate representative on PACT since day one (when it was still called PACUT) and at every meeting since then, over 2 years ago, I've asked for multiple simulations. There should be dozens, not three. Imagine a master's student publishing results with only one repetition of a single experiment or simulation!

    Please keep pushing, everyone, for more simulations! The students need an alternative to a cap of 10 consecutive hours of class!

    Robert Henderson
    President of the Graduate Student Association

    ReplyDelete