A first draft of what the Scheduling software might look like to students.
In each RWSL Node a particular lab will be set up during a specific period of time. The schedule for when these labs are set up will have to be decided before the semester begins and students will be told the time periods they have available when they enter class.
For instance let’s imagine a fictitious semester with fictitious courses in an effort to get a clearer picture of what we need to do:
Assume we are running 3 courses (P, B, and C) on 2 RWSL Nodes and we need to also schedule some time for further RWSL development (D).
 Course B requires 2 RWSL labs and the rest are done with lab kits or another delivery method. These labs are B1 and B2. Also Course B is a large class that must be accommodated with more than one 2 week period/lab.
 Course P requires 4 RWSL labs and the rest are done with lab kits or another delivery method. These labs are P1, P2, P3, and P4
 Course C requires 3 RWSL labs and the rest are done with lab kits or another delivery method. These labs are C1, C2, and C3
 RWSL Development, D, requires at least 4 weeks
Now let’s imagine a 15 week semester. I expect these courses are all webbased, but students are expected to progress together as if they were in a classroom. (Here at NIC we call this type of course a lockstep course as opposed to entirely open courses where students start and end on different dates and progress at their own pace through the course. This would be a little more challenging to schedule for, but not impossible. ;)
There are 2 weeks set aside for exams when students won’t be doing labs. Also my experience is that the first week of a course is consumed with getting the students uptospeed and dealing with issues like text availability, students dropping and adding courses, etc so I suggest that although some material will be covered in the course, the first week be set aside for course startup where RWSL is concerned. That means RWSL will need to be available for student access 12 weeks out of the semester. Below are 2 tables each representing 2 RWSL Nodes required by these courses. Each table also indicates the scheduling that will need to be done BEFORE the semester begins.
RWSL Node 1
Week #

Course Activity

Course B

Course P

Course C

RWSL D

01

Course startup

Maintenance and initial Setup

02


B1




03


B1




04



P1



05



P1



06



P2



07



P2



08

Midcourse Exam




D
or midcourse maintenance

09



P3



10



P3



11



P4



12



P4



13





D

14





D

15

Final Exam




D


Between
Semesters Break




D

RWSL Node 2
Week #

Course Activity

Course B

Course P

Course C

RWSL D

01

Course startup

Maintenance and initial Setup

02




C1


03




C1


04


B1




05


B1




06


B2




07


B2




08

Midcourse Exam




D
or midcourse maintenance

09




C2


10




C2


11




C3


12




C3


13


B2




14


B2




15

Final Exam




D (bonus)


Between
Semesters
Break




D (bonus)

Now we know which labs will be set up on which RWSL Node when.
During the first week, we need to tell the students when their labs will be available by giving them a table containing the column that is pertinent to their particular course. They need to be assigned to their lab groups and their access credentials need to be granted. (I have suggested lab groups of 2 or 3 students since larger lab groups will make it too easy for weaker students to let the stronger students ‘do the work’ and 2 or 3 is a good size for the students to develop collaboration and teamwork skills.)
Now when the students from Course C, lab group pqr (LG pqr) go online to schedule their session for Lab C2 at least one member of LG pqr will need to sign on with the credentials for that lab group. Then she/he needs to see something like:
Select the lab you wish to book time for:
Lab C1 (Note  If lab C1 has already been completed or is no longer available during the current semester, this choice should be greyed out.)
Lab C2
Lab C3
Note – Since LG pqr are in Course C they will not see any labs for Courses P or B.
When the student from LG pqr selects Lab C2 then they should see something like:
Course C, Lab C2

Time Slots Available

Day:

08:30 – 11:30

11:40 – 14:40

14:50 – 17:50

18:00 – 21:00

Sunday (2012/02/26)

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Monday (2012/02/27)

LG xyz

LG wxy



Tuesday (2012/02/28)





Wednesday (2012/02/29)


LG klm



Thursday (2012/03/01)





Friday (2012/03/02)





Saturday (2012/03/03)





Sunday (2012/03/04)

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Monday (2012/03/05)





Tuesday (2012/03/06)



LG abc


Wednesday (2012/03/07)

LG hij




Thursday (2012/03/08)





Friday (2012/03/09)





Saturday (2012/03/10)

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A: indicates that the RWSL lab is not available during these times. This could be due to technician unavailability in the case of the 2 Sundays or the need to set the next lab up as in the case of Saturday the 10^{th}. (As we gain confidence and improve the robustness of our RWSL Nodes I would envision the Sunday times becoming available as well as times that occur between 21:00 and 08:30 the next day even without technician availability, but during the first couple years it will be important to have a technician on duty while the RWSL is in operation.)
LG xyz, LG wxy, LG klm, LG abc, and LG hij indicate that those time slots have already been booked by those other lab groups and since this will be a first come first serve system these timeslots are unavailable to subsequent lab groups wanting to book their time. So LG pqr will have to select one of the empty cells. I expect there will be a limit of 1 timeslot/lab group. (If a lab group wants to change their timeslot, I expect they would remove their name from their current timeslot freeing it for other lab groups to use, and then insert their name into an empty time slot. A similar scenario would apply if lab groups wish to swap their timeslots.)
Note – Lab C2 is only available during weeks 9 and 10 and in this scenario this corresponds to February 26^{th} through March 10^{th} assuming Course C began on January 3^{rd} 2012.
In this first pass I haven’t delved into the underlying scheduling issues but wanted to explore what we are expecting the students to see when they want to schedule their RWSL lab sessions. So what’s missing and what do we need to add?
I believe Albert and Mike have already identified a candidate piece of software that could do the scheduling. Albert? Mike?
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