Asking any experienced timetabler what their thoughts are regarding
computerised timetabling programs will probably elicit nothing more than rolling
of the eyes and a knowing smirk. Many computerised timetabling programs are
available, each one promising a complete timetable in “three easy clicks”. As
any serious timetabler will know, this is not only impossible but also
undesirable. A computer can never replace the thought processes of the human
brain – human intervention is absolutely critical to the timetabling process.
Timetabling consists of much more than simply “getting it to fit” – the
scheduling or packing side of timetabling is in fact the last step in the entire
timetabling process. The EduAdmin Timetabler Module focuses on three key areas
of timetabling: planning, feasibility tests and scheduling. The scheduling side
should be a fairly easy process if sufficient planning has taken place. The
module has been designed to produce staff, class, room and individual student
timetables. It is possible to use the module without students, but this will not
be making optimum use of the program and is actually not timetabling in the true
sense of the word. Students (and their subject choices) have to be considered in
any serious timetabling process.
The Timetabler Module integrates very closely with the Assessment Module. In
the planning phase, students’ subject choices are pulled into the Timetabler
Module directly from the Assessment Module. Teaching groups are entered and
students are then allocated to teachers in an easy batch process. Classes and
Forms for next year can be entered directly into the Timetabler Module and these
fields are then automatically updated in the Student Module. Marks can be
imported from the Assessment Module to allow for accurate streaming of classes.
Student grades (HG or SG) are also available for viewing and streaming purposes
in the Timetable Module.
The Line Builder is an extremely powerful component of the module which
allows for construction of lines (sets, keys, combos, options, choices, blocks,
electives). Students can be moved between lines and sizes of classes can easily
be seen. The program will indicate which students can move into the desired
line. If students cannot move into the desired line, the program will present a
choice of swaps which can be made to make the move. The Line Builder is an
essential tool when planning the timetable – it allows the school to determine
which combinations of subjects are not feasible, for example.
Once the lines have been completed, the scheduling phase can then be started.
EduAdmin strongly recommends the use of the Interactive Scheduler. This is
simply an electronic version of the typical magnetic whiteboard or pin board
used by most timetablers. Free periods for each line and subject can be seen and
periods chosen. Clashes are shown and lines and subjects can be cleared and
re-allocated. Staff, class and student timetables can be interrogated directly
in the Scheduler.
The module supports Multiple Day Sets. This means that a junior and senior
school can both schedule their timetables in the same program. This can be done
even if the two schools have a different number of periods per day, different
period durations and share staff.
After Scheduling has been completed, the Assessment Module can be refreshed.
This process updates the staff and link codes in the Assessment Module directly.
This is one of the key benefits of using the Timetabler Module – staff names no
longer need to be entered into the Assessment Module for each student for each
subject – this data is imported directly from the Timetabler Module. When
students change subjects or when new students arrive at the school, the
Timetable button in the Assessment Module can be used to allocate the student to
lines and subjects – this is done easily and directly in the Assessment Module.
A new student can be given a personalised, individual timetable within five
In addition to this, staff, class, room and student timetables can be
printed. The Timetable Viewer Add-On presents staff, class, room or student
timetables directly on the screen for interrogation.
One aspect of timetabling which is often neglected is that of substitution
(relief, cover, batting). The Timetabler Module includes several different
relief paradigms and can produce printouts of substitution timetables on a daily
basis, for both staff and students.
If sufficient planning is undertaken and responsible, intelligent, informed
decisions made, timetabling need not be an endless, frustrating process
involving thousands of cups of coffee and late night sessions moving tiny
magnetic markers across a whiteboard.