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Choosing timetabling software

May 12, 2005

Hello again. A recent comment on this blog asked for information about timetabling software. I don't feel I can recommend a particular product as each school will have different requirements, but I thought it would be worth discussing some of the isssues involved in choosing software appropriate to your needs.

I think the first consideration is ease of use for those who need to operate the system. The onscreen information should be user friendly with clear instructions. You also need something that is easy to correct. If you select the wrong action, is it easy to stop and amend it? If several people will be using it are there safeguards to lock key decisions that you do want to have changed?

Think very carefully about what will serve your needs. You may want a global package that handles multiple administrative procedures or you may want a stand alone timetabler. Discuss the criteria with the people in your school who will actually have to use it. It will be pointless buying a product that they find unhelpful or too complicated.

Check with your potential supplier which schools actually use their product and get some feedback from users. Ask users about any problems they have and about the quality of the aftercare service.

Ensure that your supplier will not insist on your buying more features than you actually need. A reputable supplier should be able to come to your school, listen to your needs, make an assessment and then suggest a product that is adapted to your situation. A small school with 100 students is unlikely to need the same package as major college catering for thousands. Also, find out what provisions they make for updating the package with new features.

Try out free software from the Internet first so that you get an idea of the features you will find useful. Buying the right software is likely to be a major investment, so it's worth choosing it with care.
I'd be interested in hearing about your experiences.

Back soon.

Patricia.

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Comments

  1. Jean Says:

    I love your web page, so much information. I've been teaching at home (Canada) this winter and my first classroom job will be in the fall. Could you or anyone else recommend a good activity book for me to take to Asia with me? I know it's easier for the students to learn if they're having fun at the same time. Thanks for your help.

  1. PDean Says:

    ----------------
    Note from Patricia:

    Hello, Jean.

    I'm glad you find the pages useful. Here are a couple of books you might find useful:

    Five-minute Activities: A Resource Book of Short Activities (Cambridge Handbooks for Language Teachers), Penny Ur, Andrew Wright.
    Cambridge University Press Paperback, 1992.

    700 Classroom Activities, David Seymour, Maria Popova. Macmillan ELT Paperback, 2003.

    However, there are lots of activity books available so perhaps other teachers will suggest their favorites too.

    Best wishes,

    Patricia.

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