Open Apereo 2021: UniTime Community Updates

Jun 9, 2021 19:03 · 2632 words · 13 minute read

greetings and welcome to an overview of unitime a comprehensive academic scheduling solution for higher education i said solution what problems does this solution solve the first scheduling problem is when and where to teach each class for that unitime has the course timetabling module to create a course timetable many requirements and preferences need to be taken into account such as possible dates and times when the classes can be held the rooms that the institution has available and their equipment the course structure instructors and their availabilities preferences for times rooms relationships between classes such as a lecture of a course should always be before the laboratories or that an instructor should not teach more than six hours per day and last but not least information about students in particular which courses should not overlap so that the students can take them and finish their degree in time all this information serves as input for the unitime solver which takes this information and produces a course time table this time table can be reviewed and modified by the users let me demonstrate how course timetabling is done in unitime this is the initial unitime screen after the user logs in in this case it is the demo instance of unitime available to everybody to try it out first we will look at the courses section this is where there is a list of all the courses of a particular department we shall have a look at biology courses in particular biology 101 this is the structure of the course biology 101 consists of lectures recitations laboratories practice study observations the student needs to take one of each there can be further relationships indicated for example this indentation is intentional it means that when we see the classes the recitations and labs are linked if a student goes to lab one he also needs to go to recitation one he cannot choose any other recitation of this course let us now look closer at the different requirements and preferences that can be set up i will click on a class for recitation 1 and click on edit class the first item related to time is the date pattern it indicates which weeks of semester the recitation should be taught select the date pattern and then then you can have a look at the small calendar icon which shows which dates are included in this date pattern the time preferences four times within a week are set up using the time pattern for this particular class there is a time pattern that says that the class should be taught once a week for 50 minutes the possible times are between 7 30 and 5 20 p.

m starting at 7 30 8 30 and so on using this colorful scale we can possibly indicate requirements and preferences for example we can prohibit early morning times and strongly prefer early afternoon times you can also discourage later in the afternoon and strongly discouraged later in the afternoon and friday the white times stay neutral that is between preferred and discouraged as for rooms there are multiple ways to enter requirements and preferences for rooms first you can enter a requirement for a room group for example this recitation must be in a classroom the room groups are defined by the user you can indicate a specific room or you can have a requirement or preference for a building so i can set up a preferred education hall if any features are required this is the place to enter the information so for example a computer is required for this class and you hit update to save this information each department has their list of instructors for each instructor it is possible to indicate their unavailability or time preferences you can also have room preferences and distribution preferences such as teaching at most six hours per day then after you set up the preferences and requirements you can add your instructors to classes we can also add distribution preferences to classes we might for example require that all the biology 101 lectures all of them should be on the same day that’s set up by required all classes on the same days information about students comes in the form of curricula for each major there is a list of courses that all the students must take in this year of study or there are also optional or elective courses where not everybody needs to be so there may be a quarter of the students a half of the students in each of them an alternative to plans of study is to import student course requests from an external source in the form of an xml file that can be done on the data exchange page you choose a file and import it a lot more data can be imported or exported through this screen when all the data has been entered it is time to run the course timetabling solver the resulting timetable can be viewed by the user in many ways for example as a timetable grid here we can see a room timetable the user can review it and if a change is needed the user clicks on a class and either selects a suggestion that is suggested by the solver or selects a new assignment by hand for example moves it one hour later the solver informs the user what the change will mean in this example it means that if we decide to move the class to one hour later it will mean that this other class becomes unassigned the because of the room it was in that room and it can use it no more if you decide to apply this change hit assign this was a demonstration of the course timetabling module in unit time the second problem unitime helps to solve is when and where to examine students to address this academic scheduling need unitime offers the examination time to a blank module as inputs for examination timetabling the user has to indicate classes for which to have the examination together for example two classes taught by the same instructor could have an examination together examination periods that is the possible time periods for the exam available rooms and equipment examination seating capacity of the rooms which can be smaller than the regular capacity when the classes are taught there instructors who should be present at the examination and similarly as in course time tabling preferences for time periods rooms or other when all this information has been entered the unitime solver produces an examination timetable that can be reviewed and modified by the user let me show you a few examples from examination timetabling directly in unitime the examination timetabling is in the examinations section of unitime let me show you the setup of final exams in the session the examinations need to state for which classes they are held you can see that biology 101 will have three examinations for each lecture one exam the exam will be 180 minutes long the seating type in the room will be exam that usually means that only every other seat can be used for the exam the size says the number of students in this demo instance it is a very small number the maximum number of rooms into which the examination can be split as four there is this instructor overseeing the examination the period preferences any period is possible but the thursday they are discouraged room preferences and there could be distribution preferences as well for example for some other exams there is the preference same room these were the inputs for the solver then the user runs the solver and when an examination timetable has been created and possibly also modified by the user it is also displayed in this list so you can see for each exam where it ended up the third problem from academic scheduling is when and where should a student go to take his or her classes unitime solution to this problem is the student scheduling module this module produces an individual schedule of classes for every single student to decide which student should go into which class unitime needs the following input which courses does each student plan to take those are the course requirements are there any alternatives to these courses does the student need to have a particular free time without any classes how long does it take to get from one location to another those are the travel times is there any reserved place for particular students for example a special laboratory for honor students or a course that is for engineering students only should the sections of a course stay balanced or could the distribution of students be uneven what are the criteria of a good quality schedule taking all this into consideration the unitime solver creates a schedule of classes for each individual student this includes the decision which class of which course the student should attend let me show you a few related screens in unitime student scheduling is under students in the main menu the first part is for batch student scheduling which is taking all the student course requests and creating student schedules of classes for all students at once the second part is for individual students coming to unitime and modifying their schedules of classes this is what i am going to show here you can see a list of courses that the student brian would like to take the first priority is algebra 101 with alternative of calculus 101 there are a couple more courses and this student would also like to keep his tuesdays and thursdays 7 30 to 9 00 am free then he clicks build schedule and gets assignments of classes you can also display them in a time grid it’s possible to click on a class and select a different class of that course that would be better for the times of the students the newest module of unitime solves the problem which instructor should teach which class this module is called instructor scheduling typical use of the this module is for large courses with a number of exercises or laboratories these classes already have their times and rooms from course time tabling now you need to assign your teaching assistants to them for each instructor or teaching assistant you can enter their teaching goal that is how many hours per week they can teach there are qualifications or scale which indicates which courses they are qualified to teach as in other modules you can express the preferences of the instructors in this particular module it is the preferences for courses they would like to teach plus the same preferences as in course time tabling the instructor may also like to have all the classes of the same course or spread his teaching growth among different courses the instructor scheduling mode is smaller than the others with narrower audience so we shall skip a demonstration of the user interface with all these excellent features to create different kinds of timetables and schedules the users need one place to see them all a place where they can answer their questions such as when is the room available what is my schedule it is time to introduce the fifth module of unitime the event management the event management starting as a room booking tool with related process of requesting a room reservation which is later approved by the room manager however this module is useful for all the other modules of unitime too in course time tabling or examination time tabling you can indicate room unavailabilities of particular days or times here you can set up course related events such as field trips or help sessions using information about the student’s availability you can review your personal schedule of classes with just all the classes examinations and course related events in it you can also export this personal schedule to a calendaring tool of your choice events the place where the results of all the other modules come together and it has its own functionality too let us look at the timetable part of events there are different types of timetable that you can display room timetable curriculum timetable or person timetable i will show you a timetable of a student here’s a personal timetable of the student that we looked at before the student has classes monday wednesday friday the holidays are excluded and he has some examinations in the final exams week it is not easy to see the examinations here so we can display just the examination week in the grid and now we can read the names if the student wants to export this calendar they can do it here export as i calendar the student might also want to book a room for a student event he can do it this way select room timetable rooms in a particular building and then he can go through individual rooms here when he sees a time that’s suitable for them he can highlight the time up here click add event and continue with the room booking that’s what i wanted to show you in here we have seen all the five modules of unitime the course timetabling the examination timetabling the student scheduling the instructor scheduling and the event management let me offer you a brief overview of unitime users we know this from their registrations which is voluntary therefore we might not have information about all institutions that have implemented unitime 88 institutions have indicated that they used unitime in production unitime has had 45 new registrations over the past 12 months nine of them were production instances all this information is valid in april 2021 the unitime team co-organized the international timetabling competition itc 2019 for which real-life data from 10 institutions from four continents were collected from their unitime instances this is to illustrate that unitime is being used all over the world and why have institutions chosen to use this software it helps their students get their degrees in time it helps use resources more efficiently for example if you use the rooms that you have available and do not need to rent or build another room or building it saves costs considerably unitime makes the processes easier to manage it makes the knowledge transfer easier by recording the inputs the information that led to the current timetables or schedules and it supports cooperation on the processes unitime is generally more fair than a person when it comes to distributing popular or unpopular times among instructors unitime helps the institution adapt to changes for example when a department moves to a new building and has a new set of rooms an entirely new timetable can easily be generated for them similarly it is easy to accommodate significant changes in curricula even smaller changes are easy to manage such as when a room becomes unavailable in the middle of the semester and all classes needs to be moved elsewhere unitime has its place in planning the future too when an institution plans major changes they can set up a semester with the modified requirements and see what timetable they get this way they can see where the weak spots are and they can prepare for them ahead of time thank you for watching this preview of unitime an academic scheduling solution for higher education unitime has been around since 2005.

in 2015 it became a part of the apereo foundation portfolio of open source software for higher education you can learn more about unitime at www. unitime. org thank you.