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9. Setting up Rules

9.1 Overview

One of Administrators' main priorities is often enforcing scheduling policies and to eliminate scheduling errors. Coursedog allows you to lay out Rules for Department Schedulers to abide by your school's guidelines. In Coursedog, Rules can be categorized as either 'Section Rules' or 'Meeting Pattern Rules.' Section Rules include default rules such as 'Can Sections be submitted with No Instructor,' or, 'Can Sections be submitted with No Meeting Pattern,' while Meeting Pattern Rules involve the distribution of sections across time. All rules have to be built on sections, you currently can’t build rules on instructors. I.e. there is currently no way to create a rule that says each instructor can teach a maximum of 9 credit hours

9.2 Section Rules

Section rules ensure that individual sections are scheduled according to your guidelines. They are listed under 'Rules' > 'Section Rules.'

Coursedog comes loaded with default rules that have been prebuilt into the Coursedog platform. Each of these rules can be turned on or off at any time by an administrative user. The below table outlines all default rules:

Default Rules
Room Blocked Out Time Conflict
When a section is scheduled in a room during one of the room’s blocked-out times
Building Blocked Out Time Conflict
When a section is scheduled in a building during one of the building’s blocked-out times
Double Booked Instructor
When an instructor is teaching two courses on the same day and time
Overlapping Meeting Patterns
When two of the meeting patterns for a section overlap with one another
Double Booked Room
When a course section is using a room that is booked by another course section on the same day and time
No Meeting Pattern
When a course section has no meeting patterns
No Room
When a course section has no room(s) assigned to it
No Instructor
When a course section has no instructor(s) assigned to it
Room Capacity Lower Than Enrollment Capacity
When the room capacity is lower than the maximum enrollment capacity of the course. Note - the preferred room capacity can be larger than max enrollment
Non-Standard Meeting Pattern
When a course section is not using the standard meeting pattern
Double Booked with Event (Specifically for Events Management Customers)
Identifies scheduling collisions with rooms currently scheduled in the Events Management platform
Relationship Conflict
When a schedule breaks its relationship guidelines with another section
Credit Range Conflict
When a section is assigned a specific amount of credit hours that is outside of the allowed range
Allowed Section Type Conflict
Checks if a section type assigned in scheduling is allowed based on the course's curriculum data. In Coursedog's Curriculum platform, each Component for a Course represents a section type
Instructors Without Meetings
Primarily for Banner clients. This rule checks for sections with instructors but without meetings
Multiple Primary Instructors
Primarily for Banner clients. This rule checks for sections with 2 or more instructors with Role = Primary
Edit Section Type With Meetings
Primarily for Banner clients. This rule checks for when users edit a section's section type when there are meetings on the section. Note: since this rule only applies when a user makes a change, this rule can only be detected in the Section Modal, and won't show up in any static conflict reports
Edit Part Of Term With Meetings and Enrollment
Primarily for Banner clients. This rule detects when a user edits the part of term on a section when the section has enrollment, meeting times, or a section type of 'Open Learning'. Note: since this rule only applies when a user makes a change, this rule can only be detected in the Section Modal, and won't show up in any static conflict reports

Rule Exceptions

Rule exceptions can be used to exclude specific departments or sections from a rule that is not applicable. For example, sections that are taught online should not be flagged by the 'No Room' rule. To exclude a department from a rule, simply select the department from the 'Exempt Department(s)' drop-down. To exclude specific sections select the relevant exemption filter from the 'Exemption Filters' drop-down. To do this, you will have to build a filter.

To build a filter, navigate to ‘Filters’ and select ‘+ Filter’

Add fields to build the filter. Selecting the blue arrows on the right will switch the field from a text-field to field select, which will allow you to build a comparison with another field. When building filters for custom rules, there is also the ability to do a dynamic filter comparison between two fields in the section. 

These filters can be used to create rules that check if one value in a section is greater than another value.

For example, "Term Start Date",  "Term End Date", "Part of Term Start Date", and "Part of Term End Date" can be used as dynamic filter options when building filters for rules:

Note that the user must click "field select" to access these options, as these options are part of the dynamic filter fields which do comparisons between two data fields instead of a fixed value:

If you are creating a filter that keys off of a 'Yes/No' field type, and want to set up a rule that is triggered when the user selects 'Yes' (or 'No'), the correct way to set up the filter would be as follows: "[Field Name]...Contains...true" (or 'false'). There is no need to use dynamic filter fields for this use case.

Note: the filter field options are dynamically pulled from your Section Template. If you use duplicative naming conventions in your Section Template fields, this may potentially result in issues when setting up the filter. For example, if you are using the Meetings Pattern Start Date and Section Start Date fields in your Section Template, you should avoid calling both "Start Date" in order to make the distinction intelligible and enable users to build filters more effectively. Selecting the wrong reference input would lead to the rule not being triggered appropriately.

Once you build the filter, select 'save.' The new filter will now be present in the drop-down options beneath 'Exemption Filters.'

You can exempt sections from rules via a status within the rule editor. This field allows users to define status exemptions to rules. 

9.3 Custom Section Rules

Custom rules can be built to suit the specific needs of your institution. They should not include any of the default rules that come delivered with Coursedog. Custom rules contain two components: Filters and Rules. 

  • Filters are used to identify the sections that should be flagged as violating a rule. The filters screen contains a list of all of the attributes that a section may have such as Department, Instructor, or Meeting Pattern. Filters may be reused by many tests or rules in many combinations.
  • Rules determine what term and departments to look at and controls what will happen to sections identified by filters. Rules can use multiple filters.

To create filters, you can click on the filters button on the top right to see the filters page. This shows all filters in the system. 

To add a filter, click on the '+ Filter' button on the top left. Filters contain conditional statements that define when a section matches the filter. To edit a filter, click on the filter in the table. 

To create a custom rule, navigate to the Section Rules page. This will show all custom rules currently in the system, and allow you to add new rules or edit existing ones. To create a custom rule, select '+ New Rule.'

In the modal that pops up, you may name your rule, select relevant filters, and add a description of the rule. You may also designate exempt departments and relevant terms. Importantly, you may decide the consequence of a rule violation through the 'On Failure' field - you may wish that users violating the rule simply receive a Warning before submitting their schedule, that they go through an approval process or Workflow, or that none of the above happens ('Off').

For each rule in scheduling, there is also a Required Rule field that can be used to specify if the rule must be resolved before a user can save a section or submit a section change request for that section. Note that for the required rule setting to take affect, theOn Failuresetting must be set to eitherwarningor a workflow. IfOn Failureis set toOff,then the required rule setting will be ignored.

In the section editor, a required rule violation will show up with a red banner:

Additionally, users will see that the "Save Section" button has been disabled with the following message:

This restriction will also apply to section change requests as well, as a user will not be able to submit a section change request with such errors:

Please note that, currently, Coursedog can only detect conflicts (and thus create rules) based on the data contained in sections. This means that if you wish to create rules based on data outside of section data (ex: Instructor data) that is currently not supported (ex: setting up a rule to flag or issue a warning for instructors working beyond set hours or days is not possible, however, admins can utilize Reports (such as Instructor reports) to review this data and make adjustments). 

9.4 Meeting Pattern Rules

Meeting Pattern Rules are used to identify the overuse of meeting patterns during certain times of the schedule. An example of a meeting pattern rule (shown below) is that no more than 20% of sections can be scheduled during Mon, Tue, and Wed from 8:00 AM to 10:00 AM. There are two types of Meeting Pattern Rules:

  • Attribute-based rule - counts the number of meeting patterns based on the attributes a meeting pattern has. The most common example is counting the number of primetime meeting patterns in a schedule
  • Time-based rule - A time-based rule counts the number of meeting patterns within a certain time frame

To switch between attribute-based rules and time-based rules, click on the arrow button to the right of the rule name.

Meeting Pattern Rules apply to whole departments and can display a warning for a department scheduler when they are violated, which will appear under "Meeting Pattern Conflicts" when a Department Scheduler is validating or submitting their schedule. Note that Department Schedulers will still be able to submit schedules that have Meeting Pattern Rule warnings, as long as Section Conflicts are cleared. 

Meeting Pattern Rule violations may not trigger a specified workflow given that these rules take into account section activity across all departments (i.e. they are based off of an aggregate number), hence no individual department should be submitting a workflow for them when validating/submitting their schedule.

9.5 The Credit Range restriction rule

There is a rule called the 'Credit Range Conflict' rule. The Credit Range Conflict rule is triggered when a section is assigned a specific amount of fixed credit hours that is outside of the allowed range defined at the parent course level.

This rule will be most prominent with Banner/Peoplesoft schools, as those SIS systems allow for courses to have a range of allowed values for certain credit fields (including credit hours, contact hours, billing hours, lecture hours, lab hours, and workload hours).

For example, if a user sets the section's fixed Credit Hours to a value that is outside the range allowed at the parent course level, the following warning will arise:

Testing Rules

Make sure to select the correct Term when testing rules.  Testing your Rules will help you to see issues across Departments.  Selecting the correct Term is crucial to making sure that you only see issues relevant to your current Planning period.

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