We recently ran a Technical User Group day around our integration tool, SIM, and I wanted to share with you some details about part of its functionality that we didn’t have time to cover.

CELCAT not only supports timetabling, but we also have attendance registers. Registers are the end of a long line of processes beyond just a timetable. Sure you need to know where a lesson is to be held, who will teach it, and even what the purpose of the lesson is, but you also need to know the cohort of students who will be at this lesson. You may think handling the cohort is straightforward, but those who work in Education know just how difficult it can be. Say, on a Tuesday afternoon, we are teaching 50 students enrolled on Maths 101. So that’s our cohort, yes? Well no, because we have a limit of 30 students to a class, so we have to split that 50 into two groups. Okay, sounds easy enough, but, erm … yeah, how do we split them? By names? Randomly? Do we need to consider that Bob is not getting on with John and they need to be split up? We can’t run the second class in the same timeslot in the same room with the same lecturer but, if we schedule a second class, do we know which students can attend it? And so it goes on.

Once we have our cohort for Tuesday afternoon, and a register to take with the relevant names on it, if we are really lucky, that may suffice for more than the first week. But changes usually occur. Bob and John are now getting along and Bob wants to move back to the Tuesday class, Sarah can’t make Tuesdays anymore and needs to be moved, etc.

The question then arises, where do we keep a record of these movements other than just for the register? The common answer is, ‘We don’t need to, we just need the registers to work’. And sometimes, you know, that is good enough. If we only care that each student undertook their available lessons for Maths 101, the exact cohort they were in may not be relevant.

But what if it is? What if we need to understand Bob moved from another day back to Tuesday? And then, 2 weeks later, moved back again? What if we want to look at the differences between the cohort retention and achievement, rather than Maths 101 as a whole? You may have quite a list of why these movements are important.

So, if we assume we are tracking these movements somewhere, how does that help our registers? Well, in the conventional world, you need to manage the membership of a register week by week, as these changes occur. But, if you have that data to hand, you can use SIM to pass it to CELCAT directly. SIM will then take care of the register membership for you. For example, if Bob is in cohort B, moves to A and then back to B again, SIM will record the changes as they happen, not only updating the registers to reflect those movements for you, but keeping a history.

Now that last point, about keeping a history, is quite important. It’s not uncommon for a Student Records systems to be used in a way that says, when Bob moves back to cohort A we simply overwrite the previous record with the new details and our history is lost. However, with SIM you still have it all to reference, and it’s conveniently located right next to the registers. What more could you want?

We call this functionality SIM enrolments, and I promise it will be on the agenda for our next Technical User Group.