This document is meant to serve as an introduction to the master schedule process with key vocabulary.
Master Scheduling Defined
Master Scheduling refers to the process of building out complex schedules, where teachers and students are assigned to multiple sections/classes a day.
For Elementary schedules (where teachers and students are assigned to one section/class a day), or perhaps for Summer School or small Secondary schedules (where teachers and students have a small number of sections/classes a day and there is little movement in that day), the building process is quicker and simpler. Please refer to the Quick Master Schedules: Elementary Schools, Summer Schools, and Small Secondary Schools help document.
Draft vs. Live Schedules
Illuminate allows users to create multiple draft schedules at the same time. The advantage is two-fold:
- Multiple drafts allow the user to play out different scheduling possibilities. Multiple drafts are useful when a school's staffing may be in flux, or if the school is exploring the idea of teams, houses, or common planning periods. This allows the school leader to create a "safe" schedule and an "experimental" schedule at the same time.
- Multiple drafts can be used to create saved backups. Users that duplicate the schedule before starting each phase have a fallback option if something does not work correctly during scheduling.
Users can have a systematic naming convention for all their drafts. Name each draft with the phase and and the date created. If multiple users work on the schedule at the same time, make sure everyone knows and understands the naming convention. Drafts cannot be merged.
Some scheduling data is Draft Independent, and other data is Draft Specific. Experienced users know the difference:
Draft Independent data is set at the site level. It is data that is true across all scheduling drafts. Changing draft independent data will impact all drafts. Some examples of draft independent data:
- Course Requests (Students only get one set of course requests per school year)
- Teacher Course Affiliation
- Teacher Timeblock Affiliation
- Student-Student Restrictions
- Student-Teacher Restrictions
- Student affiliation with Scheduling Houses
- The first half of the Course Tally (the part that reports the count of requests)
Draft Specific data can vary between drafts. This allows the user to create different drafts and explore different schedules before publishing a live draft. Some examples of draft dependent data are:
- Course Tally (the part that bulk-creates sections)
- Course Sections
- Placement of sections on the master schedule board
- Linked Sections
- Teacher-Course Links
- Section affiliation with Scheduling Houses
- Student enrollment in Sections
- Locked Rosters
- Student-Timeblock Restrictions
Master Scheduling Terminology
A unit of study. Examples include: English 9, Math 7, Art 1, Speech and Debate, Marching Band. Many schedules will have multiple sections of the same course.
Section (Draft or Live)
A single session of a course. A section is tied to a teacher, timeblock, and term. A schedule may have many English 9 sections, each assigned to a unique combination of teacher, timeblock and term.
Also called periods, blocks, or sessions. It is a single unit of time, as defined by the Illuminate user.
Using tools in Illuminate to build secondary schedules, mostly referring to using our tool for the automated scheduling of students in mass for larger student populations.
More basic than secondary schedules, where its more common for students rostered to just 1 teacher and 1 section for the entire day. Often done manually rather than using our automated tool.
Draft or Draft Scheduling
As in the name, this is referring to a schedule in draft mode, where it has not been published to live. This means it is only visible to those with permissions for draft scheduling and not visible to the majority of users, especially not viewable by parents/students until a draft is published.
Live or Live Scheduling
This is referring to a schedule being published, or no longer in draft mode. Note: Some scheduling tools are different between each.
The concept of distributing student populations equally, such as splitting counts of students rostered between multiple sections of the same course, or by gender, or other demographics. Illuminate scheduling tools' primary goal is to satisfy as many student course requests as possible, but does not have balancing in mind. Schedules may need to be manipulated manually through hand-placing or maximum capacities.
The Board (Draft or Live)
A visual representation of sections, courses, timeblocks, and teachers. May also show student counts. There can be a Draft Board or a Live Board.
These are indications in Illuminate saying students are requesting certain Course IDs, and can vary between terms and/or priority depending on how the clients set up the courses in Course Details. Course Requests can either be collected through portal using Online Course Requests (reliant on Student Groups setup and portal usage), distributed through Packages (reliant on Student Groups setup), importing (not too common and not too recommended, but possible), or manually entered for students. Illuminate's automated tools rely on course requests in order to identify how many sections of courses are needed based on the number of requests, but the tool also relies on the Course IDs requested in order to recognize if students should be placed into sections of that course.
Can work in Draft or Live. Process of grouping students into tracks, where clients can limit which students go into specific sections.
The process by which user can mass assign course requests to students via Student Groups. For example, let's say all 9th graders will be taking English 9, History 9, Science 9, and Math 9. Users can create a student group of all 9th graders, then create a package with courses English 9, History 9, Science 9, and Math 9, then link this student group, and the requests would be added to all students in the group. Users can even create exceptions, where they can assign an alternative course to another specified student group. Exclusions are common in situations such as Honors/Advanced Placement, English Learners, and Special Ed.
Mass Student Scheduler
Tool used to mass place students into sections based on the sections available and their course requests. This is an algorithm that runs in the background, where its goal is to satisfy as many student course requests as possible.
Master Scheduler (AKA Magic Wand Tool)
Tool used to mass place draft sections automatically onto the draft board based on the number of draft sections that exist, teacher-course availability, and teacher-timeblock availability. This tool has an algorithm built in to best place draft sections to try and successfully place students later. This tool does not balance schedules automatically.
Short Course Segment
If users wish to offer sections where students can receive final grades before the end of the term, they can create Short Course Segments. For example, if a high school runs on semesters, but some elective courses receive final grades at the quarter, users can create Short Course Segments on a quarterly timeframe. Any grading period that overlaps with the timeframe of the Short Course Segment will show as an option for a teacher to post a final grade to.