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Scientia is the leading provider of academic timetabling and resource management software for the higher education sector

Posted by Julian Owen | October 23, 2017 | Technology

To say that Donna Cooper, Space Resource Manager at Sheffield Hallam University (SHU), is excited about Clocks – its new space management solution – is an understatement: “Space is an expensive resource and we have identified continued issues with staff prospectively booking rooms which they then don’t use; manual room audits and surveys tell us that this is the case. But with each space audit taking five weeks, they are so time-consuming and expensive that we’ve actually stopped doing them.”

Short for Classroom Occupancy System, Clocks is the groundbreaking ‘campus intelligence’ solution developed by Netherlands-based Lone Rooftop.  It utilises their Position Intelligence Engine (PIE) to calculate the position of people inside a building via their devices, primarily using existing Wi-Fi networks. It tracks room occupancy in real time and delivers essential usage metrics through an easy-to-use, graphical dashboard.  

Importantly, it integrates with Syllabus Plus – the market-leading university timetabling solution from Scientia – to deliver insights on how space is actually being used compared with scheduled activities. Universities can use these insights to realise significant cost and space savings by addressing smaller-than-planned and shorter-than-planned classes – or complete no-shows.  

Simply put, Clocks enables institutions to schedule more activities and increase student numbers, all within their existing building capacity. Accurate usage data drives more efficient scheduling of rooms and resources, removing or delaying the need to build additional space.

At Wageningen University & Research, Clocks is driving positive behaviour change around space use, according to Fred Jonker, Information Services Policy Officer: “Engaging in discussions with lecturers has already led to a positive impact. One of the best validations is that we are starting to see a preventive effect on the lecturers: they have already started to proactively indicate that their lecture could be scheduled in a smaller room. That would not have been possible without this data and these insights.”

From a student’s perspective, PIE technology delivers huge benefits: 70% of people who work in a flex-environment regularly waste time trying to find an available workstation. By making real-time space occupancy data available on campus, students can quickly find the workspace they need.  

The benefits of integrating timetable data with other university systems can be seen right across the campus. A growing number of institutions are introducing lecture capture video systems from companies such as Echo360 and Panopto. Committing taught sessions to video enables students to be more present during the class, listening and interacting instead of writing notes.  Moreover, it increases participation for students who may be unable to take notes or physically attend the class. When linked with Syllabus Plus, these systems detect scheduled activities in the timetable and automatically record them. If the recorded activity is linked to a course, it will be automatically made available to students registered on that course. No action needed from the tutor, and no additional IT resource needed in the classroom.

Accurate usage data drives more efficient scheduling of rooms and resources, removing or delaying the need to build additional space.

Timetable data is integral to smart building management, says Robert-Jan Bulter, Head of European Business at Scientia: “Why heat a room when it’s not needed, or clean it when it’s not been used? Universiteit Twente in the Netherlands is a great example of this approach, having reduced its energy use by up to 70% in its largest lecture halls since we integrated Syllabus Plus with its Estates Management system.” 

Personalised electronic timetables and up-to-the-minute change notifications mean that students need never arrive to find a note on the door of an empty lecture hall. And with timetable data also being used to feed electronic room signage, students can easily check that they’re in the right place. Western Sydney University has taken this further: digital room signage at their Parramatta campus also displays a unique QR code.  When scanned, this takes the student straight to that room in Scientia’s Resource Booker application, enabling them to see its timetable and book it out for personal study.

“In the era of rising fees and falling enrolments, universities need to work harder to get the attention of potential students – and then deliver the best experience possible,” says James Grashoff, Head of Sales and Marketing EMEA at Scientia. “Our analysis of the UK’s National Student Survey showed that student satisfaction, performance and retention all improve when a successful timetabling system is implemented.”  

www.scientia.com 

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