Four outdated academic planning tools your institution should avoid

27, Jun, 2018

Isabel Sagenmüller
BY: Isabel Sagenmüller

Planning a new semester can be a difficult task for universities, especially if they do not have the tools to facilitate and optimize this process.

As we state in the blog “BIMs: three ways of improving the management of university space”, many Higher Education establishments do not have a formal system to allocate resources efficiently.

Thus, it is one of the most significant planning challenges faced by institutions worldwide.

Many educational institutions still solve these problems in an impromptu manner. Here we list four outdated academic planning tools. Does your university use any of these practices? If so, it may be time for a change. 

1. Post-its

It seems odd but post-its used to be one of the best tools for Higher Education institutions to manually assign schedules, subjects, rooms, teachers and students. Post-its made it possible to move and rearrange everything easily as many times as necessary.

Today there are still universities that use this method. However, it involves certain significant disadvantages. First, nothing is saved on any platform. Thus, it is not possible to keep a record. It is also difficult to reuse work to avoid starting everything from scratch and nobody is able to access the information from elsewhere. In addition, it leads to human error with consequences such as a student being unable to attend a subject due to a schedule overlap.

2. Schedules on blackboards

Many of those reading this blog today might have had to go to their faculty to check the class schedules published on blackboards. But it never occurred to them that to get schedules to fit perfectly, the people in charge of designing the schedules, had to get together for many hours, even days, to assemble this complex puzzle.

Thus, it was an excessive investment of time and energy; those in charge of this task had to do the same exercise for many courses, subjects, etc.

Despite the dedication, on many occasions, students were unable to take a subject because they could not get from one faculty to another or they had to attend another class. 

3. Allocating rooms without a formal system

A few years ago it was not unusual for students to arrive at the allocated room and find it occupied by another class. Several minutes of the class were lost while this discoordination was resolved and another space was found for the amount of time required by the subject.

In the end, there was ambiguity about the room to be used for the class until the actual day, while both students and teachers wasted time moving from one place to another.

Also, there was no optimization of spaces and resources. On many occasions, a small group of students ended up using a large room. Thus, the optimization of resources was not feasible. 

4. Lack of long-term planning when implementing an internal ERP

This happens at universities that have already taken a step towards "modernization" and have introduced different management software to plan their resources (Enterprise Resource Planning, or ERP). However, given they do not use the same platform, a significant problem emerges: they do not communicate with each other. Each degree or faculty is in its own world.

What main benefits should an ERP bring to an educational institution? It is precisely to achieve more effective internal communication and optimize resources.

For example, one of U-Planner´s solutions - U-Planning - integrates information from different departments.

In just a few steps, it makes the perfect match between the schedules of students, teachers and classroom availability. These operations are done by granting permission during the authentication phase.

Multiple simulations can be done as well. The system delivers results efficiently, so it is possible to review several short-term constraint scenarios such as activating and deactivating rooms, restricting uses, prioritizing allocations over others, among other aspects.

Conclusion

Due to its efficiency, a tool such as U-Planning allows the user to concentrate on making decisions and lets the system search for the best configuration.

It also allows resources to be optimized, by determining the minimum required number of sections of students according to the estimated enrollment. In addition, the system guarantees compatibility with students’ schedules. 

Academic Planning - A simulation game

About the author

Isabel has more than 10 years of experience developing, leading and executing Marketing and Communication strategies at international level (EMEA, US and LATAM). She has worked for B2B organizations in different sectors such as nutrition, logistics and education. She is bilingual in German and Spanish and fluent in English and French.

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