This year we committed to extending our Step 5 reporting tools in significant ways. This month I am pleased (and relieved) to report that we have just completed the third installment of this reporting trilogy. Late last year we gave you the Cohort Balance Report that allows you to analyze your cohorted classes (e.g., first years) with exacting oversight. Earlier this year we released the Proximity Report which sounded alarms if you had faculty, rooms or sectioned cohorts drifting too close to one another. And now, we give you the Genre Overlap Report. With this, you may monitor your Course Diversity WHILE doing your last minute polishing work (in Step 5).
Now, that last point is an important one. What makes all three of these reports extra-special is they are providing feedback on a schedule that you have MODIFIED. The good thing about Step 5 polishing is the system will let you do just about anything you want, you know, even break your own rules, because as all schedule-makers know, sometimes you have to break your own rules to field a university curriculum. But, this is also the bad news. Because sometimes changes we make can worsen a schedule in ways we're not mindful of at the moment.
To review. The first report focuses on your cohort parity and highlights any imbalances between your sectioned groups. For instance, it will quickly expose if one of your cohorts has a super-cherry schedule, meaning all their classes are in the prime-time Monday through Thursday, 10 am to 2 pm stripe, while others have one or more non-prime placements (e.g., early, late, Friday). Next, the Proximity Report lists any Professors, Rooms, or Cohorted sections that may be bumping into one another after your manual maneuvers. When discovered you can slide classes forward and backward to grow the gap between the two meetings. Now, you will also be able to get an overview of how your Genres, which protects your schedule's Course Diversity, are faring through your manual tweaks.
Of course, for the non-negotiable matters, like keeping rooms and faculty from being double-booked we have always had the Collision Management System (easily the most-loved feature) to keep you safe. But the other things mentioned above, cohort balance, tight-placements, and genre overlap, those might cause some grumbling, but none are true schedule-killers that will leave people without a place to teach or learn.
To be clear, the Genre Overlap report has always been part of the system; it has just never been part of Step 5. Step 4 has long offered this view as part of the schedule scoring, but the information was only available for un-modified schedules (schedules made by the brain). Once you moved to Step 5 and began your modifications, all bets were off, as the saying goes, and that Step 4 report immediately became obsolete. There are some reasons this information wasn't available in Step 5. They are the same reasons it is the last report of these three you are seeing. It was easily the slipperiest of them all, but as I said at the beginning, we committed last year to bringing these three reports from the ether, and we kept a shoulder on it until it happened.
With this report, you're going to get three things:
(1) The first is the Genres Scorecard. This breakdown includes the number of courses from each Genre that are part of this schedule, followed by the number of conflicts between those same-Genred courses, followed by a score for that Genre.
(2) Next will you get the detailed Conflict Report. For Genres that have conflicts, it will list all the classes for the Genre and give a graphical hour-by-hour breakdown of the day showing where each course falls AND highlight the ones in conflict. We provide all of the classes in the genre so you can find open spots in the week to move classes as to avoid creating new collisions.
(3) Lastly, you get a Genre Courses Report. This shows you the courses that were part of each Genre when the schedule was made. This matters namely because if you made changes to your Genre configurations AFTER this schedule was produced, they would not be reflected here which is why we like to give you what we call the Snapshot of your Genres setup when this schedule was made.
Regarding the timing of this release, now is the leg of the scheduling season where this data can rightfully earn its place at the table because for folks who keep tuning and tweaking their schedule throughout the year, this will let you keep an eye out for your course diversity. To find the new report, go here:
UPPER NAVIGATION: Step 5 - Polish and Publish the Schedule
LOWER NAVIGATION: View Schedule Reports
SUB NAVIGATION BAR: Genre Overlap Report
We're confident this utility will become a fast-favorite, and we're glad to have finally crested this hill. I often tell my kids when they are struggling with something that the more they sweat, the more they will smile when they are on the other side of it. Please know we are smiling big at the ofCourse offices today. And, as per usual, we are happy to sweat, so you don't have to.
As always, see you on the scheduling pitch.
April 29, 2018