The purpose of this website is to have an independent evaluation off the different school timetable software and timetable programs available to the educational sector. We all know that there are many school timetable programs available but really how good are they and how do they compare to each other. We want to review the school timetable software according to the following criteria's:
- timetable ease of use : how easy is the timetable software really to use and how quickly will a new comer be able to successfully build his timetable from start to finish. As we know teachers change between the different schools and often the timetable lands in the lap off a new teacher that have never had any experience with building timetables. In this case going on a long and expensive course is preferably not accepted. The new teacher should be able to accept the responsibility of building the timetable, has the president and enjoyable experience with out any stress.
- graphical design and interface : even though this doesn't have anything directly to do with the actual construction off of a successful school timetable we feel that this is an important area since one would be spending a significant amount of time using the timetable software. If the interface is appealing, friendly and easy to use, the timetable building experience will be more enjoyable and less stressful.
- Building algorithm : this is one of the most important criteria that we will use during our review off the different school timetable software available. There is no sense in having a pretty program but one spend days trying to complete the timetable like playing solitaire. We are looking for a timetable program that can built any timetable successfully and in the shortest period of time. Since school timetables sometimes have to change with the drop of a hat, the timetable software should be able to accommodate build the timetable in the shortest period of time.
- Solutions : what if a program is encountered in building your school timetable is encountered how easy is it to find where what and why there is a problem with that specific subject and how easy is it to rectify this problem. As you can imagine we do not want a timetable software program to run for a long time trying to place one period on a teachers timetable that is already full. If you think that is funny, believe me I have seen it.
- Absentee system : not all timetable software programs have this feature, but we feel it is quite important. Most school timetable programs will be able to produce a printout of all the teachers that is free for each of the different periods per week. The problem with this is, the absentee system still have to be worked out manually from this matrix making it unnecessary complex. As we all know that we work with teachers (humans) if this system is not fair and some teachers were to give up more off their free periods than other teachers dissatisfaction can occur. A successful school timetable program must have a good absentee system in place that is fair, not rigid and can be adopted to the unique circumstances off the school.
- Manipulation : how easy is it to do manual changes to the timetable. We all know the story the timetable has been successfully completed but 10 minutes before the final timetable is printed and distributed to the teacher the principle comes in and asks to quickly making one small change do the timetable and that is to move is golf partnerís teaching lesson on a Friday last period with that off a three. How easily can this be done and in the shortest number of time.
- Personalizing the timetables :
- Common timetable restrictions : how easy is it to enter certain school timetable restrictions and how well will the building algorithm cope with these requirements.
∑ Shared specialized room: these are specialized rooms that a shared by different teachers when teaching a specific subjects. An examples off these are: the computer room, cooking room, the swimming pool etc. Even though these subjects might taught by different teachers they need to share the specialized room and should not clash.
∑ Double periods: there's no sense in having a perfect timetable but your important double periods is broken up and spread across the timetable. These double periods are very important for certain subjects and can not be broken up. Take an example of a science double that is to be used for practical experiments. If these practical periods are not double and broken up it will be very difficult to conduct experiments successfully and might be cut short. The other important factor is the importance of the different double periods. A double science as mentioned above is at far more important than a double English. There is no sense in having a powerful building algorithm that place all the English double periods correctly but not the Art periods.
∑ The placement spread my not change: how easy to specify that a subject needs to be placed on everyday and for what top of arrangements of periods. For instance we want the woodwork to be placed on everyday as well as one day they must have a triple. What did the timetable software program do, was it placed correctly, was two triple periods created that will not work in the school or were doubles create that also will not work. Sticking to the requirements as into it can sometimes be very important and other times not, how well does program cope with this.
∑ Personalization : you know the story, Friday the last period, must be three. Blocking certain teachers together for subject meetings, reserving certain authority figures at specific times. All of these are examples of personalizing the school timetable.
- Student choices : class timetabling is fairly easy but what if students have choices, unique choices. Can this be incorporated into the timetable program?
Please watch this place when the school timetable reviews goes live. We would value your input.