One of the good things about attending conferences is finding out how other colleagues have approached projects which are similar to ones we are involved in, often in different ways. Yesterday I attended a session on how UCL had approached their Common Timetabling project, which is very timely, as we have just completed a pilot in our own such project, and have encountered a number of problem. UCL had similar reasons for doing it - to facilitate interdisciplinary study, to provide better timetabling information to students, to use teaching spaces more efficiently and to make more efficient use of modules and resources. Their timetabling is decentralised, with each department producing its own timetables, and they decided to leave it that way. In order to facilitate common timetabling they decided to introduce a block structure, with mornings divided into different blocks and streams for lectures, and lab classes etc in blocks in the afternoons. There were some issues with this, and initial pilots weren't totally successful, and some departments refused to cooperate. However, what is important, is that UCL approached this as a massive change management process, with a long timescale of 3 years, a lot of work on risk management, and a lot of resource put into it. Change managers were recruited and a lot of effort was put into "readiness assessments", as well as using dedicated staff and temps for data hygiene. Sobering really, and has led me to consider our own project, and whether we need to allocate more resources to it. Think the answer might be yes!
Following on from this session was one from LSE about how they've implemented CampusM, the mobile app for students. I've given a similar talk so many times about we did it, it made a pleasant change to listen to someone else. They've done it in a very similar way to us, but with some different data and features. They've also branded it LSE Mobile.