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Integration Best Practices for Registrars

Overview

There are 3 key aspects of the Class Scheduling integration process that Registrars should be familiar with and manage:

  1. Once the term has been rolled in the SIS, turn on the inbound flow of term data into Coursedog
  2. Once the schedule has matured, post it back into the SIS
  3. Once the schedule is finalized, disable bi-directional flow of information


This article will describe and provide instructions on how to tackle all three aspects. Coursedog provides an administration console that enables configuration of the integration. See the Administration Console section further below for information on how to access it. We recommend that you take a proactive approach to managing the bidirectional flow of scheduling data with your SIS and define a clear strategy so you can determine i) which terms should flow into Coursedog from the SIS (and when), and ii) during which period within a scheduling cycle should Coursedog send scheduling information back to the SIS.


Additionally, for information on standard integration configuration practices for Class Scheduling, refer to this article.


Recommended Integration Strategy

We differentiate between term specific data and non term specific data below.

  • Non term specific: Terms, Buildings, Rooms, Departments, Professors and Courses
  • Term specific: Sections

*Note that Courses can be considered term specific data and Coursedog does have a setting to 'Only run Integration for selected terms' that applies to them. However, in general we recommend that you do not utilize the selected terms setting for courses and consider them as non term-specific data.


When should integration be enabled for non term specific data?

All the time. These settings should always be set to 'Yes' to keep this information synchronized into Coursedog from the SIS nightly.

Some benefits of having the above entities synchronized regularly:

  • Professors information changes in the SIS remain synchronized in Coursedog, i.e. Professors being inactive/active, going on leave, undergoing name changes etc.
  • Rooms remain synchronized in Coursedog, i.e. rooms being made inactive due to unforeseen circumstances (flooding, etc.) room feature changes such as whiteboards being installed, sound systems being removed etc.
  • As new terms are rolled in the SIS and made available that Term data is made known to Coursedog automatically via the nightly sync

Should integration be enabled for old terms?

No.  Coursedog recommends that you turn off integration for any term where scheduling/planning has completed. For example, if you have finished scheduling for Fall 2020 simply turn off integration for that term by removing it from the list for Sections:


Should integration be enabled for future terms?

No. Only enable integration for terms undergoing active scheduling. Turn on integration for upcoming terms once they've been rolled in the SIS and you want to initiate scheduling.  For Sections simply click in the box and select the term to add it to the list:


How do I turn off integration of all term-specific data?

Set Sections to 'NO.'  No sections will flow into Coursedog and no posts will be made back to the SIS.  We recommend that you set Sections to 'No' when you do not have any terms listed in the 'Only run integrations for selected terms' setting for sections.


For the current planning/scheduling term, at what point should Coursedog begin pushing scheduling changes to the SIS?

We recommend waiting for schedules to start to stabilize in Coursedog before enabling sending updates to the SIS.  Also, once the scheduling cycle is complete, disable sending updates to the SIS.

Enabling too soon leads to unnecessary handling of what are essentially incomplete scheduling changes that can be rejected by the SIS causing you to end up spending time evaluating warnings that should best be ignored until later in the scheduling cycle when schedules have matured within Coursedog.

Enable too late and you risk ending up reviewing many warnings all at once and missing the opportunity to educate your schedulers on mistakes they are making.


The image below shows where in your scheduling timeline you should consider enabling sending updates to the SIS.  In Coursedog we call the timeline Future Actions.


What Information does Coursedog POST to the SIS?

Section information only. Coursedog does not update any other data type in the SIS such as courses, instructor profiles, rooms, buildings, departments or terms.

  • Section Creation: Coursedog will create new sections in the SIS
  • Section Update: Coursedog will update existing section information such as instructor assignments, room assignments, meeting days and times, section type etc. The exact fields that Coursedog will update are carefully configured during onboarding with the Coursedog Customer Success team and are dependent upon which SIS you have and the rules/restrictions for that SIS.
  • Section Deletion/Cancellation: Depending on your SIS and how your integration has been configured, sections will be deleted and/or cancelled/inactivated


How to Enable Sending Updates to the SIS

Sending updates is what we refer to as POSTing data (Coursedog posts data to the SIS for update).  Enabling sending of updates is done from the Administration Console described further below by setting to 'YES' for Sections. See the 'Recommended Timeline' and 'Alternative Timeline' sections below for details regarding when to enable sending updates.


With the above setting set to 'NO' Coursedog will not send updates to the SIS. We recommend that you set to 'No' when you do not have any terms listed in the 'Only run integrations for selected terms' setting for sections.

Recommended Timeline: Nightly Synchronization

Here is a recommended plan for institutions:

1. Roll the term in the SIS

2. Enable the integration for that term.  Having the integration 'on' means that the SIS term data (sections) are synchronized into Coursedog nightly and accomplishes the following:

  • Section field changes in the SIS propagate to Coursedog keeping it in synch with the SIS, i.e. section numbers, max enrollment values, section names, status etc.
  • Enabling the integration for the term means adding it to the 'Only run integrations for selected terms' setting for Sections as follows:

3. Keep 'Send Updates' set to NO until the schedule stabilizes:

4. When the schedule stabilizes set Send Updates to YES

5. As soon as the term scheduling is complete turn off the integration for that term and set Send Updates to NO

  • Remove the term from the list to turn off the integration for that term

  • Set Send Updates to NO


Alternative Timeline: Manual Synchronization or Ad-Hoc Merge

The above recommendations enable/disable nightly automated synchronization of term data into Coursedog and scheduling data back to the SIS.  An alternative approach is to skip the nightly synchronization and instead do it manually via a 'one time' pull of section data into Coursedog after the term has rolled in the SIS followed by a 'one time' push of that data back to the SIS when scheduling has been completed.

*Note that you might need to wait a day or two after the term has rolled in the SIS to see it as selectable in the Coursedog environment.

*Also note that the above doesn't have to be 'one time' —you could do it more frequently if you want.

The timeline for manual synchronization would be as follows:

1. Roll the term in the SIS

2. Execute a manual merge of the term data (sections) into Coursedog

3. When the schedule stabilizes execute a manual merge of term data to synchronize data back to the SIS


You can view a video demonstrating this approach here.


Note that in this proposed manual model (and in all models for that matter) you'll keep the nightly synchronization of non-term-specific data 'On' so that Coursedog is always up to date with the correct room, building, department, professor and term information, but keep term specific (Sections) data off:


Manually Import Term Data into Coursedog

To manually pull a term's worth of section data into Coursedog without any nightly synchronization access the Execute Merge function on the left navigation.


Run the execute merge for Sections.  Keep the Send Updates feature set to NO to just pull data into Coursedog:


How to completely reset Coursedog data to match what is in the SIS

This is done by running a manual merge with the source of truth set to 'Always Institution' without any field specific exceptions. Running a manual merge in this manner will remove any changes that were made directly in Coursedog for that entity and replace with a snapshot from the SIS.  For example:


When you are resetting data ALWAYS set 'Send Updates' to NO


Implications (using the example in the screenshot above):

  1. Any rooms created directly in Coursedog will be removed
  2. Any edits to any room will be lost, for example, if you had updated any room features or attributes, changed any room display names etc. those will be lost
  3. The set of rooms in Coursedog after clicking Execute will be an exact match to what is in the SIS


Manually Send Updates to the SIS

From the Execute Merge screen set Select Type to 'Sections' and select the term.  Set the Send Updates setting to YES and click Execute.


In this manual scenario you may run into conflicts that require resolution and we encourage you to reach out to Coursedog if you need assistance. To minimize the number of warnings and errors your Merge Settings should have been configured by your customer success representative and generally match the standard integration configuration on this page.  When you then execute a manual merge those same settings will automatically apply.


Accessing the Administration Console

Add the Admin product to your superuser account.  No more than one or two users at your institution should have the Admin product added as it comes with a significant degree of responsibility and should be considered a highly restricted privilege.

Note: Make sure you have more products listed than just 'Admin' or the system will not be accessible to the user when they next log in.

Refresh the page and access the Admin console from the products menu.

To manage your integration settings access Merge Settings:


Sections are considered term specific data, and to turn on or off integration for any term you will need to list the term in the 'Only run integrations for selected terms' list.


Note that there is also a master switch to enable/disable the flow of scheduling information from Coursedog to the SIS —what we refer to as POST data.  This master switch affects all integrated  terms and is not term specific.


C
Coursedog is the author of this solution article.

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