New public view: course overlap report

While full-on technology workers developed the ofCourse scheduling platform, the lion's share of the design comes from school administrators, faculty, staff, and to a degree, students. The latter group drove the process by telling us, the tech people, what we should make. This is a critical detail because before my school's Dean of Academic Affairs, Registrar and Dean of Faculty stepped into my office in 2009, I knew absolutely nothing about making university schedules, but we are together today because I am an above-average listener.

Between 2009 and today (fall of 2017), I have had a great many suggestions left on my voicemail, mentioned in person, and sent to my inbox. Can the system do this? Have you tried doing this? I am not sure how hard it would be to do, but it would be super-helpful if it could do this. Questions and comments like these over the years are what have made the ofCourse Scheduler the coveted and extensive tool it is today.

I imagine it is somewhat akin to getting movie scripts or show ideas. Sometimes you do not see the overall benefit or global appeal. Other times though the request immediately takes shape in your head, and you just know it will resonate with people, lots of people. This was the case last month when a school pointed me to something they ran across on the web. It was put out by another school (not an ofCourse client ... yet), and they thought it was pretty cool. After giving it a look, I thought it was VERY cool. They asked if the ofCourse system had anything like it. I had to confess we did not. However, nine days later I was able to send a follow-up message saying that we now had something very much like it, thanks to her suggestion (and the robust foundation our technology sits upon).

Curious what sort of request could make us roll a fresh whiteboard into the room and table our scheduled work? Once you see it, I think you will know why we got as excited as we did. Moreover, like so much of our other work, it is the sort of thing you see and slap your forehead and say, "Of course! Why didn't we think of that sooner?" The 'of course' part is a happy and routine coincidence for us.

The report shown to us listed all of the courses offered in a semester. Certainly nothing special there. But then, to the side, it iterated through all of the classes that are happening at the same time as that class. That is if you enroll in the course noted on the left, here are all of the classes you will not be able to take because some part of them are happening at the same time.

I mean with the usual graphical and catalog-style options one can get a sense of things. These are college students after all. However, would you rather have to fight your way just to get a sense for the situation or would you prefer seeing the real score cleanly and neatly laid out before you? In the end, that is what the entire ofCourse operation is trying to provide to you—quick, concise, comprehensive access to your school schedule. Moreover, while this will give you, the schedule-maker, a new vantage point to police the end-layout of your offerings, imagine how helpful it will be to students who are working to construct their semester experience.

And yes, of course, this new Course Overlap Report is a public view, and like the other public views, you can share it where you need (be it to administrators and faculty for review or to the full student body during the registration window). Knowing some schools communicate their schedule to their students through their parent systems, we worked to make this layout as clean and lean as possible so you can still use your native systems and fold this in as a complement to your regular publication without things looking too disjointed.

To see the report do this:
1. Log onto your scheduling system.

2. Go to the Export page.
UPPER NAVIGATION: Step 5 - Polish and Export the Schedule
LOWER NAVIGATION: Export the Schedule
Note: This assumes you are on Step 5 and have a working schedule for the chosen semester. If your schedule is not yet to Step 5, then you will have to wait until you arrive at the polishing phase.

3. Under the Public Views section, you will see a new option called the Course OVERLAP report. Click on it.

4. To share the report, after it displays in your browser, copy the web address shown in the URL bar and use that to invite others to the report.

5. Prepare yourself for all of the oohs and aahs and thank yous that are sure to come your way following the share.

Lastly, veteran users of the system will notice the Public Views section received some new paint as well. Given how that area has grown over the last few years, we wanted/needed to give a better sense of what is behind each link pre-click. This additional enhancement is a small sign that there is never just one update per month. In the newsletter, we have to just pick our favorite update to brag about for a minute.

As always, see you on the scheduling pitch.


Troy Dearmitt

Troy is the CTO & Co-founder at ofCourse.

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