While the systems can be programmed to take multiple locations into account, in some cases, campus culture prevents satellite locations from being leveraged. Students and faculty might not want to travel to a branch campus, especially if gas prices or parking are going to add to the challenge. While administrators acknowledge that enabling students to have a home campus is desirable, if space is very cramped, shuffling high-demand classes to a downtown location might be necessary, a challenge Howard Community College (Md.) leaders face over their shared space with Prince George’s Community College, space that’s located 45 minutes away. “It comes down to knowing who your students are and being attuned to that,” says Steve Horvath, associate vice president of academic affairs at HCC. “Even if a class is open down there, they might not take it because of the travel time. Ideally, students will have one main location for their college goals.”
With space on the main campus near capacity, leaders at Lane Community College (Ore.) had to leverage their downtown campus, which had historically been for non-credit classes. There was space available during the day since continuing education classes tend to be in the evening, explains programmer/analyst Alen Bahret. “We put gen ed classes down there that have to be taken by all students and people enrolled.”
Another option to relieve pressure on the main campus is to factor in synchronous distance learning classes. “Those students are taking a workload seat for what the faculty can teach, but it’s one less person on campus using parking, etc.,” points out Bahret.
The scheduling system can be programmed to take into account drive times between different campuses and even walking times across a single campus to ensure people have time between classes to reach their next location. You don’t want instructors teaching back-to-back classes to have more than a 15-minute walk to their next location, says Doug Roberts, system director of budget and financial planning for the Kentucky Community and Technical College System.
The system will also alert the scheduler to faculty conflicts so one professor won’t be expected to be in two places at once. Under-enrolled classes are also flagged, so 15 students don’t being placed in a space intended for 50. “The software would point that out and let you move it to a different classroom,” says Tony Honeycutt, provost of Somerset Community College (Ky.).