In early March, long-time Microsoft technology partner Scientia held its Annual User Conference, welcoming representatives from a number of universities, from both the UK and the EMEAA region. As well as shedding more light on the evolution of the Scientia products and services - which are set to add even greater value to universities going forwards - the event provided a fantastic opportunity for all in attendance to learn first-hand about the experiences and challenges facing those tasked with delivering student timetables in Higher Education Institutions.
In today’s demanding education climate, institutions are constantly exploring ways to effectively schedule resources to deliver the academic timetable. Improving student experience and satisfaction, improving available courses, and making the best use of space whilst maintaining academic staff priorities are just some of the challenges faced when delivering a timetable. This interconnection of staff, students, resources and space was illuminating, and highlighted the major challenges - some of which are quite startling - that face teams trying to achieve this.
We often talk about Personalised Learning - indeed this formed a key part of the Microsoft presentation at the Scientia Annual User Conference - and in the space of delivering an effective timetable, nothing can be more personal. A large number of delegates stressed the importance of meeting the needs of faculty and students, and in each case cited unique examples of what those needs were. Fundamentally, the technology has to work. Students can’t be left with any level of ambiguity over where they need to be and when they need to be there. How you go about achieving this, and the interplay across the different stakeholders involved is challenging and therefore creates, albeit by sheer determination at times, a truly personal experience for all involved.
Indeed it's clear to see why Scientia position timetabling as a vital component in the strategic planning process, and place emphasis on its impact across all other institutional activities.
Looking forward, we'll see an increasingly strong link between timetabling and evidence based learning objectives, which is something that was covered during the Microsoft presentation on the day. We know that institutions need to further differentiate as they compete for students, and are being assessed for performance and attainment even more as they move forward. Understanding how students attend Higher Education alongside the potential to correlate that to student attainment, provides insights on many interesting areas, such as quality of teaching, drop-out/completion statistics, and perhaps how effective the learning environments are as well as the resources available.
Scientia already talk passionately about driving better decision support in institutions and acutely understand where the potential insights can come from, given the vast amounts of data being created and accumulated through what is indeed a pivotal and critical part of an institution's operation.
If you want to find out more about what Scientia is able to offer, take a look here and do keep an eye out for further announcements in the future regarding the Microsoft/Scientia better together opportunity.