University of the Arts London (UAL) is Europe’s largest centre for education in art, design, fashion, communication and the performing arts with 18,000 students and 6,000 staff.
The university brings together six of the world’s most distinguished art and design colleges across 17 sites:
- Camberwell College of Arts
- Chelsea College of Art and Design
- London College of Communication
- London College of Fashion
- Wimbledon College of Art
- Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design
In 2009, UAL identified significant shortfalls with the timetabling and room booking systems used. At the time, UAL had no single approach to timetabling activities. Each college had developed their own approaches for producing timetables using a variety of software applications and processes. Lack of a single approach led to late distribution of timetables and ineffective mechanisms for notifying changes to affected parties.
The Student Union Executive had also identified timetabling issues as two of their top 5 priorities:
Issue 2 – Timetables before the start of term
Issue 5 – Accurate timetables
Timetables were often distributed after term had started, primarily on paper or other 2D methods which could not identify or communicate additions, changes or cancellations.
It was also difficult to analyse space utilisation patterns and strategise for the future.
In order to improve the effectiveness of the timetable and communication to students and staff it was proposed that the institution would implement a single software solution.
The following key objectives for the provision of a timetabling and room booking system were identified:
- Deployment of the system for project initiation from autumn 2012, with a go-live date across all participating sites in September 2013
- Interface with UAL’s identity management system (IDM) to provide feeds from UNIT4 Agresso QLS, MidlandHR iTrent and accessplanit Course Manager
- Interface with UAL’s MS Exchange Server to provide outputs to OWA and Outlook Interface with UAL’s student and staff portal powered by Moodle
Following a rigorous tender process, CELCAT was appointed to supply the solution and had already demonstrated a successful implementation at Central Saint Martins a few years earlier.
Through a series of workshops, CELCAT Technical Consultants scoped the work involved in integrating with UAL’s IDM system and recommended the installation of the CELCAT Systems Integration Manager (SIM) to schedule frequent imports of data into the CELCAT database.
Time was spent determining the data structure and nomenclature in order to accommodate the specific requirements of each of the six colleges. For example, Central Saint Martin’s requirements were quite complex because, at the time, the timetabling process was distributed across some 50 users with editing rights, all of whom needed to operate the system and have access to their own course-specific resources but not to resources of other courses. This was possible because CELCAT Timetabler is a multi-user system with highly configurable access permission controls.
Further complexity was introduced because of the requirement to gradually release timetable information to students. Pre-enrolled students without a UAL Moodle login were permitted to see a general course timetable with minimal event detail. Whereas, fully-enrolled students had additional access to their own individual timetable containing complete event detail.
To achieve this objective, CELCAT implemented a combination of CELCAT Web Publisher to publish general course timetables with searchable index for pre-enrolled students and CELCAT Calendar to present individual timetables to fully-enrolled students in a familiar calendar view.
Additionally, and because it was felt that most students would prefer the flexibility of the approach, CELCAT iCalendar Feed was installed to serve internet calendar feeds to staff and students of their own individual timetable events. This meant that they could use any consumer application of their choice (Google, Outlook, Apple Calendar, etc.) – as long as it accepted internet calendars. Students were automatically notified by email of their own iCalendar. A self-service subscription website via UAL Moodle is also available to staff and students should they require to retrieve their iCalendar.
To aid course administrators and tutors at the planning stage, CELCAT developed a bespoke application, CELCAT Multi-Week View Report, to present a termly-view report. This application outputs a timetable grid to PDF with a breakdown by week for a term which most commonly consists of 10-12 weeks. This helps users to easily identify differences in repeating events that a combined week timetable might obscure.
More recently, UAL has implemented the CELCAT Notification Service that dynamically triggers email and/or SMS messages to affected parties based on changed events (e.g. room change). The service is complemented by work that UAL carried out themselves to allow students to opt-in to receiving the notifications as well as choosing the preferred method of communication.
CELCAT Timetabler: Core Windows client applications.
CELCAT Room Booker Live: web application for staff to find available and suitable rooms.
CELCAT Web Publisher: Windows-based configuration tool and service to auto-publish web-ready timetables in HTML and PDF formats.
CELCAT Calendar: Web app to display timetables in calendar form.
CELCAT iCalendar Feed: Windows-based configuration tool and service to serve internet calendar feeds.
CELCAT Multi-Week View Report: Windows-based application for producing timetables showing weekly breakdown based on highly configurable output settings.
CELCAT Notification: Windows-based configuration tool and automated service that sends emails/SMS messages to staff/students affected by event changes.
CELCAT Systems Integration Manager (SIM): Windows-based configuration tool and service to manage integration to:
- UNIT4 Agresso QLS
- MidlandHR iTrent
- Accessplanit Course Manager (for short courses)