U of M Scheduling Initiative FAQ

The following general questions about the U of M Scheduling Initiative are organized under headings. They reflect the questions posed by stakeholders.

General Questions:

Questions Related to the Impact of the U of M Scheduling Initiative on Students:

Questions Related to the Impact of the U of M Scheduling Initiative on Instructors:


General Questions:


Why is a new scheduling system being put in place?

Effective use of space is a key consideration for the smooth operation of a large university such as the U of M. This is particularly true when the cost of new buildings is considered. Up to date inventories of instructional space and data on how the space is used will assist in ongoing planning.

What are the big picture goals of the U of M Scheduling Initiative?

The U of M Scheduling Initiative will:

  • automate the process of matching timetables created by faculties and units to appropriate instructional spaces
  • simplify the process used for requesting and booking space for events
  • create an up to date inventory of all instructional spaces on the Fort Garry Campus and the Bannatyne Campus
  • create a new community booking process for use of space by members of the U of M community
  • optimize instructional space usage at the U of M
  • ensure instructors and students have appropriate spaces in which to teach and learn
  • provide software tools to academic and event schedulers and the Registrar's Office resulting in a more efficient use of staff time
  • analyze past classroom space usage related to how instructional space has been used at the U of M
  • allow modeling to examine future space needs at the U of M

Who is responsible for the U of M Scheduling Initiative?

The Registrar's Office is responsible for implementing this ROSE initiative.

What is the impact of the U of M Scheduling Initiative on Physical Plant, Security Services and Audio Visual Departments?

The U of M Scheduling Initiative team has met with these departments to coordinate roles and responsibilities and ensure there is no disruption in services. These departments will be able to benefit from the software, as staff will be able to access up to date information on rooms and how and when they are being used. It is important to note that AV bookings will not change as a result of this initiative.

What is involved in implementing the U of M Scheduling Initiative?

The U of M Scheduling Initiative involves:

  • installing, testing, implementing Ad Astra software
  • inventorying and photographing all instructional space
  • training academic and event schedulers in the use of the Ad Astra software and related processes
  • meeting with faculties and units to share information and gather feedback
  • collaborating with various departments and units to develop new work processes and understandings related to how instructional space will be assigned moving forward
  • scheduling academic spaces beginning on the Fort Garry Campus for the 2012-2013 academic year and on the Bannatyne Campus starting 2013-2014

Who will resolve any issues related to space allocation that may arise after the software has assigned classes to instructional spaces?

Academic Schedulers play a key role in preparing the software to operate effectively, but should only adjust room assignments if there is an error of some sort in the type of classroom assigned to a course (e. g. a room feature is required that the scheduler was not previously aware of or was otherwise not entered into Ad Astra and resulted in assignment of unsuitable space).


Questions Related to the Impact of the U of M Scheduling Initiative on Students:


Will students need to travel across campus to attend classes?

There should be no increased need for students to travel across campus.

How will students request and book spaces they need?

Using a web page, students will be able to use the Ad Astra software to view available space prior to making a request to book a space.


Questions Related to the Impact of the U of M Scheduling Initiative on Instructors:


How will instructors know what technology is available in classrooms?

Instructors will be able to view room features, including permanent technology, by accessing their Faculty Detail Schedule in Aurora Self Service.

Will instructors need to travel across the campus to teach?

Using the preferences set up in the system, classes will be assigned to "faculty buildings" whenever possible or in buildings close to the faculty "home." As well, Ad Astra has the ability to implement "back to back" rules when assigning instructional spaces, ensuring that classes taught back to back are scheduled in close proximity.

How will AV and IT equipment be booked under the new system?

Any needed AV and IT equipment will continue to be booked using current methods.

Will lab space assignments change with the new system?

Labs are highly specialized and preference settings in Ad Astra control which classes are assigned to particular labs. There should be few, if any, changes in lab assignments or utilization.

How will the U of M Scheduling Initiative benefit instructors?

The chief benefit to instructors is that the system will ensure appropriate instructional space is assigned for all classes on campus. The software tools will help ensure space needs are identified and met moving forward.

Are there drawbacks for instructors with the new system?

It may be that, for some courses, some instructors will be assigned spaces they have not taught in or are away from their "home building." Some instructors scheduled into unfamiliar instructional space may see this change as inconvenient. On the other hand, some instructors may prefer the new space to some other spaces they have used in the past. The space allocation will occur as follows:

  • courses requiring specific labs or spaces (e. g. a studio) will always be assigned to those labs or spaces (as is current practice)
  • for all courses not requiring specific room types (e. g. lab or studio), preference settings will direct the Ad Astra software to first look for suitable, available classrooms in the building(s) typically used by the faculty/unit
  • if a suitable classroom for courses not requiring specific labs or spaces is not available in a particular time slot in the building(s) typically used by the faculty/unit, the software will assign a suitable classroom in a nearby building
  • as a result of the change in the room assignment process, some instructors may find themselves teaching in rooms and/or buildings they have not used before
  • instructors will be able to note the classrooms assigned to their courses, and the room features

Can mid-terms be scheduled in Ad Astra?

Mid-terms can be scheduled as events or as an academic activity in Aurora INB (Banner), which will then be imported into Ad Astra.

Can graduate seminars be booked in Ad Astra?

Graduate seminars can be booked into small rooms as a class.

Will Ad Astra require all U of M buildings to have the same hours for opening and closing?

U of M building hours will not be changed due to the Ad Astra software implementation.

Who will schedule spaces for events in Ad Astra?

One primary event scheduler and a secondary (backup) scheduler per building will do all event scheduling. Faculties that have several buildings (such as Agriculture) may assign a primary and backup scheduler for their group of buildings, as well as a primary and backup for each building.

How are special events scheduled?

Special events will be booked by faculty schedulers (as is the current practice) but they will use Ad Astra to do the booking.

If a faculty has upgraded an instructional space with faculty funds or donations, do they have exclusive use of the space?

Instructional space, in some instances, has traditionally been viewed as "belonging" to a faculty. In reality, instructional space is part of the larger space inventory of the University. Thus it may be that these rooms will be used by classes from other faculties when the space is not being used by the faculty.

Will faculty or unit "meeting spaces" (e.g. boardrooms) be automatically available for booking by other users through Ad Astra?

No, faculties and departments will retain control over booking "meeting spaces." Requests to use the spaces will need to be approved by the faculty or unit, as is the current practice.

How will the University keep track of room usage in the future?

Ad Astra will be the system of record for all Fort Garry classroom and event bookings beginning April 1, 2012. Ad Astra will be the system of record for the Bannatyne Campus beginning August 6, 2013.