Office of the Registrar

Classroom Optimization FAQ

While the optimization process is new and can be confusing, the Office of the Registrar is hoping to make this as seamless and transparent as possible.  Therefore, we have created this page to catalog your most asked questions. The page will be updated as questions are received. If an answer is not immediately available, the question will be posted with an explanation that research is being done to provide an answer. If you have a question you would like included, please email Melissa Duffield.

1.       How will the assignments for students be completed outside of classroom time? How will this be tracked?

We are cognizant that there are certain classrooms and labs that have software students need outside of normal class time.  The task force will be reviewing this need, running several scenarios throughout the optimization process to verify daily utilization rates.  It is anticipated that this will provide the necessary feedback to determine the best course of action.

2.       Cornerstone is not in a ‘neighborhood ’ and there are more classes being taught there, specifically UNI classes.

Cornerstone is currently being targeted for UNI classes because of its unique population.  There is also another classroom in the Suites Services Building, at the back of campus near the residence life office being considered for the same purpose.  The Suites Services Building classroom has about 65 seats and could be added to the mix.  The task force is attempting to reserve a lot of the residential spaces for UNI classes to limit the time professors may spend between classes.  We are aware that these options are not preferred by many faculty.

3.       How is time to move from building to building tracked? Often, conversations happen with students after the class has ended.  What, if anything can be done so this interaction isn’t cut short or lost?  Is this built into optimization?

When the optimization process runs, it will consider faculty schedules. Meaning, if a professor teaches back-to-back, the optimization process will consider that, weighing this very high, allowing a faculty member to stay in that classroom for more than one class period.

Additionally, it has been brought to the attention of the Registrar that there are cohort graduate classes that keep students in the same classroom, while the professors move. This is also a scenario the task force will look into.  This scenario is less likely to carry additional weight.

4.       How are we tracking/comparing the success rate of optimization?

The task force hopes to use Space Planning and Management data, used for UNC General Administration reporting, to track space utilization in an effort to compare what we have done in the past with the results produced through the optimization process.

5.       Are the DE Classrooms included or excluded?

Currently, it has been decided that distance education classrooms will be excluded from the process during the first year.  This will be reviewed the following year again.  The distance education classrooms are not just used by instructors teaching to students outside the university, but also by students that may be taking UNC Online classes.

6.       How are department meetings scheduled? How is this entered?

The task force is waiting to review the optimization scenarios, so we have a better picture of this issue.  Once the optimization process completes and rooms are locked in, colleges will be able to schedule open spaces for these meetings.  It may not be the same room or time used as in prior years, but it is something the Office of the Registrar and the task force are aware and tracking.

7.       What is the difference between seminar space and conference rooms?

The easiest way to answer this is using the U.S. Department of Education and UNC General Administration definitions.

Conference Room: A space that is serving an office complex and used primarily for staff meetings and departmental activities. (activities other than scheduled classes)

Seminar Room: A smaller, general purpose classroom space used for scheduled non-laboratory instruction.  This room seats 1-19 students.

8.       In the past, classrooms have been added when the courses are entered. Is this still the case?

No. Schedule builders will leave the classroom entry blank for spaces identified within this optimization.  Schedule builders will have the ability to enter that, but when the optimization process initiates, it will override anything that was entered.  The only classrooms that will be entered as they were done previously are the spaces NOT being optimized (labs, DE, etc.).

9.       How do we pick preferences?

When making the classroom request, preferences will be taken into consideration. For the first year, the Office of the Registrar will be responsible for the input of preferences.   The Office of the Registrar is still working on a collection method. More information will be forthcoming.

After the first year, it will be the responsibility of the schedule builders to enter those preferences.

10.   Is there an incentive for getting finished early?

No. We will not begin the first optimization process until February 9, 2018. The Office of the Registrar will close the access to schedule builders on February 9.  If we receive schedules after this time, those classrooms will be selected from the remaining spaces, post-optimization.

11.   Does the Office of the Registrar have all software and equipment information for classrooms?

We are still collecting this information from departments and consulting with ITSD.  We are encouraging departments to share this information with us so that the optimization process can be utilized to its full potential.  The more data we have, the more likely we can place courses in the appropriate classrooms.

12.   Once all of the software and equipment have been accounted for, are there any guarantees that a class will remain in the space because it’s always been there?

No.  The class will not remain in the same classroom because it has always been there.  However, there is a strong possibility that it will remain in that space because of the class pedagogical needs.

13.   Schedules will not roll in fall 2018, spring 2019, and summer 2019.  Will classrooms roll or will those be optimized again in the future?

Yes.  The Office of the Registrar will resume rolling classes, from term to term, in fall 2019.  During the 2018-2019 academic year, all courses will be built from scratch.  We have never rolled classrooms, instructors, or times/days.  Optimization of courses will be reviewed each year but will continue to determine where courses will meet.

14.   In some classrooms, additional desks have been added.  The room is too cramped and not ideal for effective teaching.  How will these rooms be handled within the optimization process?

The Office of Space Planning and Management (OSPM) performed a space inventory visual check this past summer (2017).  Actual chairs/desks were counted, and our database was updated.  If there are concerns about the number of seats (not enough or too many), please direct those to the Office of the Registrar (mduffield@uncw.edu).  We will work with OSPM to review, update, and potentially modify the numbers to fit instructional needs.

15.   Our department’s building serves a greater purpose than simply providing instructional classroom space.  It also serves to develop a sense of community (or central location) with our colleagues and students.  How will the optimization process affect our sense of community?

Departmental priority can be provided that gives greater preference to instruction within your department’s building.  If class size and space is available in the building, you, alongside any other departments sharing the building, will have priority for class assignments within your building.  In theory, your sense of community will remain.  Other departments would stand to gain from classrooms, only after best fit has been applied by your department.  Course enrollment and classroom capacity matching will be an important factor in all cases.

16.   Our department paid for one or more equipment or software additions to a classroom, using grants or other funding.  How is this room to be treated within optimization?

If the room is identified as an optimizable room according to the task force, priority will be given to the department and instructors who need to utilize that equipment or software.  Once those needs have been met, any additional use will be prioritized based on which departments occupy the building, then to those in your neighborhood, and finally to any other instructional space needs from the campus community.  For courses taught in that space, which does not utilize that equipment or software, simply will not reference.  Upkeep of the equipment is still being considered, and further explanation will be given when a solution has been developed.

17.   What would room scheduling for non-instructional related activities (i.e., faculty meetings, lecture series, etc.) look like after the optimization process?  And, if this too is centralized, how can we ensure that the volume of requests will result in quick turnarounds?

Following the optimization process, similar to the past, open academic spaces can be utilized for non-instructional scheduling.  In the past, you would reach out to your departmental or another department’s administrative assistant and request space.  This was a relatively quick turnaround.  The Office of the Registrar and Conference Services are exploring the reality of submitting requests to EMS for space.  The benefit we hope will be gained is the number of options will be greater and will work towards ensuring just as quick, if not quicker, turn around in the future.  More details forthcoming.

18.   How will the optimization process handle hybrid courses that only meet face-to-face a few times each semester versus a standardized face-to-face meeting time?

Still researching.  The early guess would be that a standardized meeting time will receive priority over the hybrid meeting time.  More research is needed to answer affirmatively.

19.   Many events are scheduled in academic classrooms/auditoriums, sometimes a year or more in advance.  How does the optimization process take this into account?

UNCW institutional policy indicates that academic instruction has the highest priority.  Academic space that has already been claimed for a future event will receive an “academic bump”.  A notification will be sent to the original requester and Conference Services.  Conference Services or the Office of Space Planning and Management will reach out to reschedule the event in a new space.  More information on this process will be forthcoming.

20.   Several faculty work together to share space – linked reservation.  (For example:  The same space/time is used, whereby one instructor teaches a class Mon/Wed, another teaches a class Tues/Thurs, and another on Friday.)  How will this work when optimization begins?

This example scenario is similar to the optimization objectives.  The goal is to utilize the space as close to 100% of the time, as possible.  It is uncertain at this point how the optimization process will consider.  If it cannot handle, we hope to address manually.

21.   The graduate school courses often meet in the evening.  Will the optimization also include graduate and/or evening classes?

Yes, optimization will apply to all courses that may meet in one or more of the spaces identified within the optimization project.

22.   If our department has previously been responsible for maintaining a classroom (i.e., changing the projector bulb, repairing furniture, purchasing or repairing equipment, etc.), how are those needs addressed when we are no longer responsible for the room?

The Provost, Senior Associate Provost, and Assistant VC for Resource Management are working out a means to fund, receive and prioritize requests.  We have established that the Office of the Registrar will not be the recipient of those requests.  More information will be shared as the process is developed.

23. How will the optimization process handle a class that has the need to meet in a larger classroom but has a small number of students? For example, a Film Studies class has a need for the 16mm projector in King 101 but the class may only have 16-20 students. Will the classroom be assigned based on class size or pedagogical need of the class?

Pedagogical needs will trump class size.  In this example, there is only one 16mm projector on campus, so KI 101 will be assigned regardless of class size.  In situations where pedagogical needs exist in multiple rooms, class size will be a secondary factor for those rooms.

24. If a classroom that has been outfitted with specialized software and equipment is outside of a neighborhood, how will the optimization process recognize that need?

Pedagogical needs (i.e., software & equipment) will take precedence.  Optimization will look for those needs in the department’s building, then neighborhood, and finally any location on campus.  One of the positive outcomes of the optimization process is a more accurate database of room attributes.  Departments may have been limited to specific rooms meeting their needs, while there may be other rooms on campus that also contain these needs but limited for use by another department.

25. What happens if the optimization process puts a class in a space that will not work?

We expect a few of these cases, and we will be working with departments for most of February and March to ensure your needs are met.  In the end, if we cannot tune the optimization process to meet your needs, we will manually adjust.  Testing and getting feedback from departments will be key.

26. Will there be a dialogue between the Office of the Registrar and the Departments during the optimization process?

Absolutely.  We can’t stress this enough.  It is essential to the success of this project that we reach out many times throughout the optimization process to ensure your needs are being met while meeting our class utilization objectives.