Thursday, August 09, 2007

What do I do for a living?

When people ask me what I do (at my job), I reply, "I schedule classrooms for academic classes." Simple enough. While there's a whole lot more to that, I never want to bore anyone with the details. After all, they didn't ask what exactly do I do at my job? and if I were to tell all, it might put some people in a coma--but I honestly enjoy what I do at work.

The university where I spend my day has about 250 classrooms and 7,500 classes each semester with approximately 4,100 that needs to be scheduled into classrooms. This board pictured above sort of illustrates part of what I do. (My primary responbility is to schedule non-academic related campus events in the remaining slots not occupied by academic class. Confusing, I know but it's like trying to fit the spare jigsaw pieces in a puzzle. Anyway...) Across the top, there are the days of the week and along the left hand side are the times ranging from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. This grid only displays a week's view in two classrooms.

Can you imagine scheduling over 4,000 classes on a board such as the one in this photo or on paper? It would be such a nightmare when classes fill up and a room change is required or in the case of a room swap with another class.

The board would have to take up maybe...four walls of a very large room to make a grid which could display all the rooms available to schedule in and we would need LOTS of stickies.

But that's not how we do business--heck no! Luckily we have a software that initially automates the placement of the classes into their rooms (based upon the criterion selected by the departments who generate the schedule) and thereafter, we manually place each class individually using the software.

BUT last week, we realized that the software was doublebooking some of the classrooms and so we discovered several classes scheduled at the same time in the same space, and in short = DISASTER! Thus this grid on the door was born.

The software settings have been reconfigured but the grid remains displayed on the front door--sort of as an artwork where I among others can appreciate what was history in classroom scheduling and where we are today.

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