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Improving communication of timetabling change requests

School of Health Sciences

Aaron was tasked with working with a team from both the School of Health Sciences and Academic Services Division to improve the communication of timetabling change requests ensuring the requests contain all information required to process the request and also provide a mechanism which will facilitate analysis of timetabling changes.

Initial discussions focussed around a management type system which could contain the initial request, logging of associated actions and outcomes but with a very limited development resource and very swift turn-around time it was decided to produce a streamlined web based request form which would provide drop-down input driven logic minimising the user workload but at the same time ensure a minimum quantity of information to allow for clear communication of the change request.

This type of undertaking requires a focus on the essential data requirement and not overwhelmed by the “nice to have” requirements. An agile development process was employed allow all involved in the project to feed in to the development and testing process. When the team was happy with the development a period of user testing was undertaken. This testing was focused and users who had generated high volumes of timetable change requests but also those that the quality of communication had impacted upon the ability of the Academic Services’ team to accurately understand the context and requirements of the request. Once this process had concluded the system was launched on 6th August 2015 and generated over 200 requests in its first month.

Timetable Change Request System - Timetable change request form

Timetable Change Request System - Timetable change request form

Timetable Change Request System - Initial view including live data visulisations

Timetable Change Request System - Initial view including live data visulisations

It is the intention that staff members would arrive at the system from the Schools intranet, Aaron undertook a small piece of development to ensure that the users name and email address are carried over from the intranet to the timetable change request system to minimise the work required when completing the form.

The requirement to analyse the requests going through the process have taken several routes. The first is a recording of requests in a CSV data file which can be accessed at any point as required. Secondly data is recorded on the server which allows for the generation of usage data visualisations but also offers the potential for further browser based reports (should this be required). The last mechanism is the measurement and recording of web data to offer the potential of analysis, this is achieved using the Google Analytics Platform.

Technologies

  • PHP
  • MYSQL
  • Codeigniter PHP MVC Framework
  • HTML5
  • CSS3
  • jQuery
  • Bootstrap
  • Google Charts



The article was viewable from Tuesday, 8th September 2015.

Author: Aaron Fecowycz