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Academic Publications & Scheduling Services

Overview

What is the Optimizer Project?

Given the current plan for refurbishing a number of buildings on campus (beginning with Butte), the institution needs a more efficient and sophisticated way of determining how to utilize its limited space. The institution already has and uses a system with the capability of helping the institution maximize space utilization.

Astra Schedule Room Optimization allows us to input "rules" that specify room features required for a course to deliver its content, and combines those rules with other campus priorities such as standard meeting patterns and efficient seat fill to automate room assignments to an imported class schedule for a term. This is the centralized scheduling process that the University will adopt effective with the fall 2021 schedule build.

Using the Order of Operations—a list of campus priorities, special room use agreements, and the feature “rules”—Academic Publications and Scheduling Services then optimizes general use lecture room placements for scheduled classes each term.

Defining the Schedule Building Process

Simultaneously, the Associate Deans working group (AD-SUA) realized that the University does not have a well-defined policy on scheduling. We can only maximize space if we have a consistent set of guidelines that governs the scheduling of class sections and clearly articulates the priorities of day/time usage of general use lecture rooms. AD-SUA recognized that they were not the ideal entity to shepherd this process; the volunteer Scheduling Task Force was formed, and a set of scheduling best practices and recommendations were drafted.

On February 13, 2020, Academic Senate endorsed the Academic Scheduling Provisions (PDF). Included in those provisions was a recommendation to form a permanent scheduling committee who would shepherd the creation of a formal scheduling policy and the codification of processes related to Academic Scheduling Exceptions.

Optimizer Project Updates

Development Phase 1: Modeling

  • Initial development of the classroom characteristics, course room requirements, and faculty needs and preferences for the successful room optimization beginning with the fall 2021 semester.

Implementation Phase 2: Scheduling

  • Develop new Schedule Building process
  • Refine Order of Operations with spring 2021 schedule build
  • Implement new Schedule Building process