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Setup Course Master Builder Specifications

This is the place where you tell WebSched exactly what requirements, restrictions, limits, that you need to impose upon your school’s schedule. We refer to them as CMB RULES.

These rules are applied by course. Some rules apply to every course; other rules apply to specific courses. Some of these rules will result in a more student conflicts.  As a general rule, the more rules you impose upon WebSched the more student schedule conflicts will result.

Rule 1 – How many terms, days, periods are there in your scheduling cycle? This item is covered in menu School | Setup School.

Rule 2 – Type. The responses are C for Compulsory courses, and O for Optional courses (the default is O). Within WebSched the C courses are treated with a higher priority than the O courses. The AutoScheduler program will try to schedule all of a student’s C courses before trying to schedule the O courses. Usually the C courses are the mandatory curriculum courses like Eng10, Math10. The O courses are the elective or optional courses, typically Art10, WoodWork10.

C courses are sometimes used to designate courses that are known to be difficult to schedule. The idea being to solve the hard problems first, then go onto the problems with more flexibility.

Rule 2 will have minimal affect on student conflicts.

Rule 3 – Number of Periods. This is simply asking if the course single period, double period, or even three periods. The default value is single period.

Rule 4 – Class Limit. What is the maximum class size for this course? WebSched is very good at balancing class sizes. If you have 97 student requesting Eng10, and five sections, WebSched will aim for five classes of 19, 19, 19, 20 and 20.

– if you initially set the maximum class size to 30, and you get a result like 16, 19, 19, 20 and 23 (unbalanced);
– you might choose so set the maximum to 21 and try again,
– the result might be 17, 19, 19, 20 and 21. You have a better class balance, but one student did not get the course. School scheduling is the art of compromise.

If you press the Edit key beside a course name you will arrive at:

Rule 5 – Course Leader. If two or more courses must be taught in the same period, then designate one course as the Leader and the others as Followers. The Followers will have the same number of sections as the Leader. Apart from that point, it does not matter which course you choose as the Leader. The Course Master Builder places the courses in optimum periods for the whole group. The AutoScheduler program will place the students in the course which they selected.

As an example, you have too few students requesting Latin, so you choose that Latin 11 and Latin 12 are taught together.

Course Leaders/Followers might decrease conflicts slightly.

Rule 6 – Resource Groups. These are courses which must NOT be taught at the same time. Usually you would use Resource Groups because of limited resources. You must choose an arbitrary name for the group, say GYM or LABS. Then you simply assign courses to that Resource Group.

Example: You have only one lab, you have two sections each of Chem10, Chem11 and Chem12; all six sections must be in different periods. So put the Chems into Resource Group ChLab.

Resource Groups will increase student conflicts.

Rule 7 – Impossible Periods. Some courses cannot be taught in some periods. For example, the part-time Music teacher only in in the afternoon; so periods A,B,C are impossible. So:

Number of Sections Periods
0 A
0 B
0 C
3 *

This means zero sections in periods A, B and C. And three periods in the afternoon.

Impossible Periods will increase student conflicts.

Rule 8 – Fixed Periods. Using the same table, if a course must be taught in specific periods, then:

Number of Sections Periods
1 A
1 B

This would result in two periods, one in each of periods A and B.

NOTE: Using rule 8 you could create the complete master schedule. But WebSched can do this for you, probably better, and far, far quicker.

Fixed Periods will increase student conflicts slightly.

Rule 9 – Pre-requisites. This does NOT apply to schools with all courses year-through, Terms = 1.

Pre-requisites has a specific meaning in WebSched. In a semestered school if a student requests Math10 and Math11, then, of course Math10 must be taught in the first term, and Math11 must be taught in the second term. In WebSched Math10 is a pre-requisite for Math11.

WebSched pre-requisites are fairly rare. They should not be used unless there definitely are students requesting the two courses in the same year.

Pre-requisites might cause a conflict in the rare students taking them.

Rule 10 – Designated Teachers, not exactly a Rule. You choose which teachers you would allow to teach each course. You can choose one teacher, or many. The more you choose the more likely to assign a teacher to each course.

After designating teachers to all courses, and after achieving a fairly good AutoScheduler result, you use the Teacher Scheduler to assign teachers to classes.

Building a schedule for your school is a study in compromise. A very good schedule from the student viewpoint means few student schedule conflicts; but this may be a poor schedule from the teachers’ viewpoints, non-optimum teaching assignments, uneven workloads, awkward timing. And vice versa.

WebSched’s approach to this problem is to allow you to build the best schedule for students, and then address the teacher problem. If you need to damage the students’ schedule to satisfy a teacher restraint, at least you will know the extent of the damage. Some critical teacher issues can be resolved by using Resource Groups, Rule 6.

In a school of 1,000 students there are about 50 teachers, and 8,000 course requests. Generally human intelligence can make subjective judgments on 50 teacher situations, better than coping with 8,000 course requests. Whereas the computer can shovel around 8,000 course requests very efficiently, but has no capacity to make subjective judgments on one teacher problem.

Rule 11 – Designated Rooms. Designated rooms are very similar to Designated Teachers, but considerably easier. For each course you designate which room you prefer.

Generally it is easier to compromise rooms than teachers or students: Math10 can be taught in the Geography room if necessary. Critical rooms like the Gym, Computer Room and Chem Lab can be better handled by Resource Groups, Rule 6.