The Problem of Timetable Scheduling in B-Schools and Universities

B-schools and Universities offer large number of elective courses for their students. To ensure students have a good learning experience in the institute, it’s important to schedule electives in a non-clashing manner so that students gets to choose all their favorite courses. On the other hand, Professors’ preference timeslots need to be considered since Professors have research activities and conferences in addition to teaching. The third dimension to the problem is the availability of the classrooms.

Currently most of the B-schools and Univerisities do manual scheduling which poses following problems,

  1. Elective Preferences of the current batch is not taken into consideration; thus, students find that the portfolio of courses that they would like to select have several clashes.
  2. Allocation of Timeslots to Professors is not transparent. Professors feel why Professor A is given a particular timeslot and why not Professor B.
  3. Timetable preparation is a tedious and a time-taking exercise.
  4. Managing Cancellation and Rescheduling gets complex.

At EDTEX, we did an extensive research for 18 months working with multiple institutions such as IIM Ahmedabad, IIM Bangalore, IIM Lucknow, IIM Rohtak, NMIMS and SPJIMR and came up with a “to-be-patented” algorithm and an implementation that solves this complex problem.

How did we solve the problem of Timetable Preparation?

We have solved the problem of Timetable generation by considering the following inputs,

  1. Demand Survey from the Students
  2. Taking multiple preference slots from Professors
  3. Total no. of Classrooms Available

The Master algorithm that we came up with automatically generates the least clashing timetable by considering the inputs mentioned above. Once the timetable is prepared, the timetable automatically gets synced with the Outlook and Google Calendar of the Professors.

We have also implemented a FCFS based timeslot selection for Professors at one of our partner institutions. This is used in the scenario of first year MBA

Rescheduling Classes

In the event of not availability of Professors or on Students Requests, rescheduling of classes needs to be performed with the consideration of clashes. In most B-schools, late evening or early morning timeslots are blocked for rescheduling classes. It is very much possible that all the students of a course are available in the regular timeslot during the day. TMS recommends the best timeslot for rescheduling.

Scheduling Guest Lectures and Quizzes

When faculty request for a Quiz or an exam, the Programme office then needs to allocate a clash free timeslot aligning with students’ schedule. This problem is a bit similar to rescheduling problem.

Usually such requests are implemented on an ongoing basis and when we do not have a system for managing the schedule, it becomes a tedious task for Programme office to schedule in this scenario. We observe this trend especially in newly formed universities and B Schools with high percentage of guest faculty. EdTex TMS facilitates creation of Guest Lectures for optimal Timetable generation on the go.

Key points

Anil Vishwanadhula & Arun Korupolu

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