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What's next for Timetabling?


I have previously presented my view that if timetabling 1.0 was all about personalisation and centralisation, then timetabling 2.0 is about information and integration.


I have also written that the future is agile, but as timetabling is a service to the curriculum, agile timetabling awaits agile curriculum.


Going back to my thoughts on timetabling 2.0, I made explicit the context that will drive a change to timetabling (shown in black around timetabling 2.0) This then leads to the items shown in red that need to integrate/inform timetabling better.


It has bothered me that I have had little follow up on timetabling 2.0 by timetablers. Then it came to me that developing Timetabling 2.0 is not in their remit. Do I take this issue to IT people? Possibly, but they should always be a servant of operations and yet who owns teaching resource management? It cuts across central and academic services because the curriculum and workload allocation are clearly in the hands of the academic disciplines.


This question raises the age-old debate amongst timetablers as to where timetabling should sit organisationally but that to my mind is clear. The timetable serves the curriculum: timetablers logically sit in Registry. Good relations need to be maintained with Estates and planning but these services are not primary stakeholders. (I do admit that I happily leave timetabling in Estates if it works there for the purely pragmatic reason that a good sponsor always trumps logical structures.)


Currently teaching resource management is not operationally owned by a single unit and I cannot see an organisational change to address this. My next step would be to at least think about the metrics that would surface teaching resource efficiency at the university level rather than just at the academic unit. This is not because everything should be centrally controlled, but rather the centre needs to be able to allocate central resource logically rather than on a “he who shouts loudest” basis. Maybe the theme for my next workshop is “Turning timetabling data into Information.”


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