Choosing the Best Class Scheduling Software: Benefits, Features & Why Your Campus Needs It Today
At higher education campuses, scheduling classes, courses and rooms has always been a labor-intensive task. In the past, class scheduling required the use of Excel, Google or Microsoft calendars, or even pen and paper, to account for a variety of variables such as instructor preference, availability, class size and room resources. A comprehensive class scheduling software solution eliminates these complexities and creates a one-stop-shop for allocating classroom spaces.
This type of inclusive solution for academic scheduling also allows universities to better adhere to budgets and save money where it counts. By using scheduling software, campuses can better track their resources, maintain invoicing and billing for used spaces and get a clearer picture of how their real estate is being used across campus.
The best class scheduling software will provide major benefits to your campus registrars, integrate with your existing systems and ensure student safety.
What is Class Scheduling Software?
Class scheduling software allows campus registrars, professors and students to schedule academic courses, exams, meetings and other events in one inclusive solution. Maintaining all scheduling functionality in one place saves planning and facilities teams valuable time and resources.
What are the Benefits of Using Class Scheduling Software?
Campus activities and schedules are becoming increasingly more complex. From self-service study rooms, to complicated professor and student requirements, a class scheduling software solution is required to maintain an effective, efficient and optimized campus that makes the most of every available space. Major benefits of class scheduling software include:
- Simpler Certification & Exam Scheduling
- Resource & Equipment Tracking
- Avoid Conflicts & Make Better Future Decisions
- Save Time on Administrative Tasks
- Ensure Student Safety
- Save Money & Track Resources
Simpler Certification & Exam Scheduling
When special exams or certification courses arise, having a class scheduling solution creates an all-in-one spot for professors, teaching assistants, students, faculty and visitors to schedule rooms and resources. These events can easily be scheduled into preferred and appropriately sized locations and ensure proper seating with customizations for open seats between participants or custom room arrangements.
The best class scheduling software will also provide options for completely paperless scheduling collaboration. Moving all your scheduling options and functionalities into one digital system allows for less user error and more efficiency.
Resource & Equipment Tracking
On most campuses, there are often a number of buildings and departments that house expensive and specialized equipment. Whether it's equipment in a laboratory or borrowing basketballs from the gym, students, faculty and visitors need a way to rent, reserve and track these important resources. A scheduling solution can go far beyond scheduling academic classes and can provide a digital resource for any physical item to be borrowed for a certain period of time.
For example, at Wichita State University, facility managers use Accruent's EMS scheduling solution to track their gym equipment usage, media resources like A/V, and even their mascot costumes, of which there are three, all with their own “spaces” that can be scheduled for use. Other organizations on campus like Fine Arts, Catering and even campus police can use a scheduling platform to make sure facilities always knows where any campus resources are, at any given time and provide clear information for billing and invoicing for using these resources.
Avoid Conflicts & Make Better Future Decisions
Class scheduling software provides a clear view into time blocks, availability and violations to help uncover potential situations that need to be resolved, such as double-booked instructors or back-to-back classes. A scheduling interface can help users identify when conflicts may occur by providing a clear, user-friendly calendar view and resource tracking.
An academic scheduling solution also prevents future incidents by allowing you to copy course and instructor preferences and use them each term, eliminating the need for manual re-entry. This future-proofing keeps your campus registrars and schedulers from having to deal with conflicts or use their time manually preserving classroom and user data.
Save Time on Administrative Tasks
A digital scheduling solution eliminates the need for cumbersome paperwork or conflict resolution. Bulk scheduling, saved preferences and detailed reporting capabilities all allow your faculty members more time to do their jobs without the constant interruption of minor scheduling errors. Most university campuses are fast-paced, and it is critical that your faculty can use their valuable time to be as productive as possible. A class scheduling software solution provides a collaborative and easy-to-use interface to save time and increase staff efficiency.
Ensure Student Safety
Having one system of record, such as a scheduling solution, greatly improves visibility and communications across campus, supporting campus risk mitigation and public safety. Scheduling platforms can go beyond academics and help schedule on-campus events, third-party visitors, and campus police forces. Campus police know where and when they're needed, and when there are emergencies, alerts and information about which rooms are in use and where students are helps maintain a safe campus.
Campuses can also use a scheduling solution to promote student safety on campus in the wake of COVID-19. Students can schedule self-service study spaces that show when the room is available, when it was last sanitized and how many people can use the room at a time. Class and exam rooms can be configured and scheduled for socially distant learning or exam taking, ensuring desks are properly spaced out or clear barriers are implemented between desks.
What Features Make for the Best Class Scheduling Software?
The best class scheduling software will contain features that are not only easy to use, but also keep your facility and registrar teams focused on what matters, saving time and increasing productivity. The most important features of a scheduling solution include:
- Auto-Assign Functionalities
- A/V, HVAC & Resource Coverage
- Robust Reporting & Analytics
- Bi-Directional Hardware & Software Integrations
- Bulk Scheduling & Preference Saving
A scheduling solution should allow for auto-assigning of courses to rooms based on course size, equipment availability and requirements, seating layouts and instructor preferences. This system of automatic assignments saves your registrars time and keeps instructors happy. Plus, these preferences and class assignments can be saved and re-used each new term, eliminating the need for manual re-entry or conflict resolution.
A/V, HVAC & Resource Coverage
Every classroom needs different resources – from A/V systems like projectors and speakers, to laboratory equipment, each professor will have different needs and requirements. A scheduling solution gives options to schedule resources alongside rooms and determines if room inventories match course requirements.
Additionally, a full-service scheduling solution will integrate with IoT sensors and systems across campus to facilitate communication between scheduling and HVAC. This allows for classrooms to be heated or cooled based on occupancy, rather than running constantly, saving money. For example, Virginia Commonwealth University uses Accruent's EMS scheduling solution to monitor their HVAC usage, and saved over $10,000 their first year of managing their ventilation in classrooms.
Robust Reporting & Analytics
Space utilization data on campuses is critical to understand how spaces are being used, who's using them, and when. This data helps campus planners better understand the need for real estate and can give insight into which spaces could be put to better use. This helps tremendously when budgets are up for reconsideration and to justify the cost of maintaining campus spaces.
Reporting within a scheduling solution can also help users generate specialized reports such as course changes over time, preference reports, prime time usage, exam schedules and more. These reporting capabilities give deep insights into campus scheduling to help planners better maintain schedules year over year.
Bi-Directional Hardware & Software Integrations
The best class scheduling software should offer bi-directional hardware and software integrations. Most campuses use a Student Information System (SIS), and it is critical that a scheduling solution can integrate with this SIS to facilitate room scheduling for courses and exams. Planners can then create scheduling scenarios and room assignments can be written back to the SIS.
Hardware integrations are also critical for smooth scheduling. Kiosks and digital signage around campus can provide students and faculty with mobile options for scheduling rooms, releasing bookings and knowing what resources are available in specific spaces.
Bulk Scheduling & Preference Saving
To maintain efficiency, class scheduling software should provide optimizations like bulk scheduling and preference saving. Bulk scheduling hundred and even thousands of classes and exams at once saves time for future events. Capturing and accommodating departmental, instructor, and other preferences provides a custom scheduling experience for all users.
Who Needs Class Scheduling Software?
Class scheduling software can be used by more than just your registrars or campus facility managers. A truly comprehensive solution can fulfill the needs of users in a wide variety of departments, including:
- Registrars & Planners
- Athletic Directors & Managers
- Campus Facilities & Real Estate
- Campus Security & Risk Managers
- Directors & Managers of IT
Registrars & Planners
A class scheduling solution provides registrars and academic planners access to robust classroom and exam scheduling capabilities, identifies how to use space efficiently for class planning, and coordinates with conferences and events for mixed used of classrooms.
Athletic Directors & Managers
When managing campus events and athletics, a scheduling solution free's up staff time through automation, reporting, invoicing, billing, notification tools, a reservation book and an online request process.
Campus Facilities & Real Estate
A comprehensive scheduling solution will provide reports on space utilization, support room charging to invoice for room use, and integrate with HVAC, digital signage, and other systems and hardware across campus.
Campus Security & Risk Managers
The best class scheduling software will simplify risk planning and mitigation initiatives with dashboards for events and classes, automated updates and notifications, and the ability to require and enforce all legal and environmental policies for managed events.
Directors & Managers of IT
With a cloud scheduling solution, campus IT can maintain a stable, end-to-end platform that replaces and integrates with many systems, requiring fewer resources and attending than multiple, overlapping systems.
EMS is the Best Class Scheduling Software for Higher Education Campuses
Accruent's EMS academic scheduling solution offers the functionality your academic and event schedulers demand, with the seamless integrations to support and leverage your existing investments and technology infrastructure. EMS is built to manage complex classroom and academic scheduling and improves communication and collaboration between departments while managing use of dedicated and shared spaces.
EMS Integrations Support Your Existing Systems Across Campus
EMS integrates with the most popular systems across campuses, including:
- Microsoft Exchange / Outlook
- G Suite / Google Calendar
- Video Conferencing Systems like Microsoft Teams and Zoom
- Student Information Systems (SIS)
- Facilities Management Systems
- Building Automated Control Systems / HVAC
- Digital Signage & Touchscreen Kiosks
- Occupancy Sensors
These integrations are possible through our connectors, partner solutions, and the EMS Cloud Services API. Integrations across campus ensure your people, rooms and data are always up to date and shared across systems.
EMS Provides Data Safety & Security for Your Campus
For our Cloud Services for EMS, we require our hosting providers to have ISO27001/ ISO27017/ISO27018/ISO27701 certification and be audited to SSAE 16/ISAE 3402 Type II, SOC 1, SOC 2, SOC 3. Data is backed up every 15 minutes and is segmented from other customers’ data. EMS encrypts Data-in-Transit (using HTTPS) and Data-at- Rest using AES 256-bit encryption. The EMS Cloud Services team monitors the software and hardware systems continuously for any potential risks or threats.
EMS also provides the governance, policies and procedures that maintain adequate capacity and quickly resolve operational issues. Governance covers all incident and release management issues, as well as proactive monitoring, reporting, and capacity planning. EMS offers Disaster Recovery (DR), and a Business Continuity Plan (BCP) through redundancies for servers, hardware, SQL databases, power, Internet connections, and HVAC systems.