New features and enhanced functionality have been added for 2013, with the twin objectives of making Edval timetables even easier to use and more flexible. Included are the new Subject selector; Lines to periods; Unassigned cover counts in EdvalDaily; and Places Left in the elective line screens.

New Subject Selector

A revolutionary new Subject Selector has been added in F9 Class List Manager. Select a subject by name to modify class lists; frequently this is all that needs to be done as single group subjects like Roll Call, Sport, Assembly – and fully blocked subjects like English, Maths and Languages will instantly show all these classes. For example, if ‘Subject’ = ‘Drama’ is selected then the first group (line) of classes that contain this subject will be shown. 

If the Drama classes need to be modified in the other line or group, the ‘Subject’ = ‘Drama’ is selected first and then the structure drop down is used to select the other group containing Drama. It will only show Line 3, Line 4 as options if Drama only exists in these two lines. 

This enables users to focus on the subject, and less on complicated class structures. This new workflow is faster and simpler, and reduces errors. It makes the process of class list management more user friendly, which is great for pushing this task away from timetablers and more on to the end users who would otherwise submit requests for changes to class lists.

Making the process easier and more accessible empowers the subject coordinators with changes made on the spot. Previously, some requested changes may not have work within the complex timetable structures. By simplifying the process non-timetablers can see issues for themselves, e.g. if classes are full, there are gender imbalances, or desired subjects don’t run in that nominated line etc. 

Many schools use Edval’s class list management tools instead of those commonly found in their admin systems. The in-built class list tools in large systems invariably don’t understand the complex class structures which are in current timetables, so they don’t restrict subject change choices to those which ‘work’ within the timetable. Similarly they don’t automatically suggest changes that require algorithmic consideration of options, such as where you can change a Biology class, but only if you also change your Chemistry and PDHPE across lines – these options take time to consider manually and humans often miss otherwise good combinations.

Class List Manager

Lines to Periods

Another new feature released for 2013 involves mapping elective lines to periods on the grid. This sophisticated approach means you can generate lines knowing they can be scheduled efficiently, as teachers and rooms required for proposed elective classes will be influenced by which periods they fall on. 

All too often, schools consider the generation of lines as a separate process to the staffing of classes, or the scheduling of classes in lines to the timetable. This new Edval feature means that any lines generated will work better, being more capable of being staffed optimally, and can be scheduled directly. In fact, the mapping means the senior lines are already scheduled to periods. Effectively, this is incorporating the scheduling of classes to be part of the elective generation process itself – leading to increased quality and more efficient workflows.

An example might be the Sports Co-ordinator is required for Yr8 Sport, which is locked to Tuesday afternoons. If this co-ordinator is required for a senior PDHPE elective which is running with TAFE, it may be that this line must run on Tuesday afternoons due to TAFE. Edval’s new feature will flag this issue early on and force the senior PDHPE class into a different line, due to the staffing/period restrictions in Yr8. Similarly there are often part time staff, who significantly affect timetables. By considering the staff options on classes together with the period requirements, the resulting lines are simply much better.

EdvalDaily – Unassigned Cover Counts

New ‘Unassigned Cover Counts’ appear at top of each period column in the Cover panel. The period(s) with most unassigned covers outstanding is shaded orange, to draw attention to the more difficult periods to cover. 

Use internal staff with in-lieu/underloads to cover a few classes on the ‘difficult’ (busy) periods and you can see more easily how many casual teachers you may want to bring on-site. Bring some in, then use F10 Auto-cover to allow on-site casuals to fill any gaps, taking covers for teachers other; than the main one they are covering for.

This feature provides a new workflow, where the user now easily sees, and focusses more on covering difficult periods. The result is faster, more efficient operation, together with more effective use of staff. By making better use of internal staff to cover where needed, the value of casuals can be maximised, as they are more able to be filled up with covers on the days they work at the school.

Places Left

In the elective line screens, Edval now computes the total places left in each line. Historically, schools do not generally focus on this aspect, but sometimes there can be a problem if staffing is particularly tight. For example, if your lines have 25 students still needing to find a place in Line 4, and yet there are few classes in this line, or these classes are primarily prac classes with lower maximum class sizes, you may have a problem. If there are only 15 places left in that line, no matter how you arrange the students, you will never be able to fit them all in and will possibly be required to raise a new class solely to cater to these students.

By providing better visibility of ‘places left’, you avoid this issue, and can be more aggressive about paring back staffing, while still ensuring you can cater to students who still need to pick up a subject in that line.