The Waikato Institute of Technology (Wintec) is using Datacom’s Smart Timetables solution to help revolutionise the student experience and reduce the administration burden on staff.
Datacom’s Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution automates the delivery of up-to-date, personalised class and exam timetables, with information such as maps, assignment due dates and tutorial reminders flowing directly into the phone and tablet calendars of an education provider’s students and staff.
After launching the solution at Orientation Week in February this year, Wintec reports that around 100 students a week are now signing up to use it.
“Historically, our timetabling processes were more designed for the convenience of staff, not students,” says Graeme Ward, Director of Infrastructure and Assets, Wintec.
“We are transforming our timetabling to make it truly student-centric, and Smart Timetables is a key part of this. So far we have seen a strong uptake of the solution and have heard nothing but positive feedback from students.”
Before Smart Timetables, Ward says timetabling at Wintec was manual and paper-based in many areas, creating difficulties when producing tailored timetables for each student or notify them immediately of any changes.
During the old method, if a staff member cancelled a lecture they typically notified students by putting a notice on their door. As a result, students often found out about the cancellation only after they had turned up to the class - sometimes after travelling a long way.
Ward says Wintec uses Syllabus Plus software for the creation of its timetables, but this application isn’t designed to deliver data directly to student and staff devices.
Consequently, Ward says Datacom’s Smart Timetables bridges the gap by extracting relevant information from Syllabus Plus, checking for changes and formatting it on the Microsoft Azure platform, and then loading it onto Office 365, which phones and computers can read natively.
“The typical Wintec student is a Digital Native, and mobile devices and apps are an integral part of their lives,” adds Sunny Katira, Associate Director of Microsoft Azure, Datacom.
“Up-to-date timetabling information delivered in this familiar way helps students maximise their use of Wintec’s resources and get comfortable with using workplace productivity tools, such as Office 365, to manage their time.”
Smart Timetables is also helping Wintec to lessen the administration load on its staff, even as student numbers grow, with a reduction in the number of students in the general information queue since the solution launched.
“Wintec’s early successes highlight the many advantages that can come from using Smart Timetables to put the timetabling information students need in their pockets,” Katira adds.
“Other leading education providers from countries across the Asia Pacific region, including Australia and Malaysia, have already registered interest in our solution and its potential benefits.”
Katira says Smart Timetables is fully automated and compatible with all major mobile platforms, with Wintec students and staff adding an Office 365 user name and password into their phone or tablet’s native calendar and email settings.