Schedule25 Optimizer Cycle

Note: Academic Scheduling Focus

The Schedule25 Optimizer is primarily designed to optimally assign classrooms to unassigned sections in a given academic term. You can use it for other purposes (such as assigning locations to workshops that are part of a large conference) but these articles focus on academic scheduling and terminology. 

optimizer assign screen

When Should the Schedule25 Optimizer Be Run?

Schedule25 should be run:

  • After you have imported your section information from your SIS and corrected any import errors.
  • After you have manually made preassignments in your SIS. Preassignments are strictly honored during Schedule25 processing.
  • After you have performed the optional step of binding back-to-back sections. This step ensures that Schedule25 will try to place consecutive sections with the same instructor in the same location. 

What Input Does the Schedule25 Optimizer Require?

Optimizer run configurations

Every Schedule25 run requires that you use a saved event search and a saved location search, created in advance. You can use the same searches in multiple runs.

The events (course sections) in the event search must have the following data:

  • Correct date/time imported from your SIS.
  • Headcount data imported from your SIS. (If a section has no headcount, Schedule25 will use the value specified in the Default Enrollment setting.)

The events (course sections) in the event search may have this optional data:

  • Preferences for individual locations or location features. (Feature preferences will be treated as hard requirements during Schedule25 processing.)

The locations in the location search must have the following data:

  • A single associated campus partition.
  • A defined maximum capacity, along with the capacity of the default layout (if any).

The locations in the location search may have this optional data:

  • A minimum fill ratio, indicating how well the location should be utilized.
  • If the events have location feature preferences, the corresponding location features associated with the locations.

If you have created blackouts on your locations, Schedule25 will respect them and not schedule sections into those locations during those times (even if some users have overridden permissions).

In addition, the organizations associated with the events in your event search (your academic departments) must have their partition preferences specified on their organization records.

What Does the Schedule25 Optimizer Do With the Data Provided?

The Schedule25 Optimizer algorithm attempts to place all the classes that are included in its event input into appropriate locations. As it does this, it balances three priorities:

  • Placement. The algorithm will place as many sections as possible.
  • Optimization. The algorithm will place sections so that each location is being used to its optimal capacity.
  • Departmental Preferences. The algorithm will ensure that each department's sections are placed in locations preferred by that department.

Depending on how you prepare your data and customize the details for a Schedule25 run, you can put more weight on any of these three priorities–however, doing so will necessarily make the other two less effective. The goal of a successful Schedule25 run is to find the best compromise and balance among these competing priorities. The placement results of a run are not final until you accept them, so you can experiment with changing settings until you get the results you desire.

What Won't the Schedule25 Optimizer Do?

Basically, the Schedule25 algorithm is just an automated way to make a lot of location assignment decisions very quickly and efficiently. It won't do anything you couldn't do manually using 25Live, if you had enough time and coffee.

Schedule25 won't change any data associated with a section, except the location assignment. For example, it won't change a section's meeting patterns to find the perfect time slot, or reschedule a section to meet on Monday/Wednesday instead of Tuesday/Thursday. You can make minor alterations to how Schedule25 performs its calculations by using processing settings like Extra Finish Minutes or the Enrollment Adjuster, but doing this doesn't alter the section data.

Schedule25 won't schedule anything you don't want it to. By creating the searches that are the input to each Schedule25 run, you control which sections you want placed and the locations the sections can be placed in. If you don't want to assign locations to certain sections or you don't want to make certain locations available for assignment, you just exclude them from the searches. Once a Schedule25 run is complete, it presents you with a list of suggested location assignments for the sections. You are free to accept some or all of them, and then either manually place the remainder using 25Live or perform further optimization on the unassigned sections using Schedule25.

Schedule25 won't alter any existing scheduling data. It won't remove events or sections that have already been assigned to classrooms.