Setup Course Dates or Topics to Manage Lessons / Courses

Tuesday, Mar 27, 2018

Managing courses can be straightforward when dealing with a training course. However there are some situations where it is not to straightforward, and there may be a consideration for a more non-conventional use of course dates and topics.

The conventional short course use of is that a course dates are set up at a regular interval where student search for, select and attend the training. In this scenario if you need to monitor the units of competency associated with the training these are specified as topics and modules on the format, and then automatically allocated at the point the course date is created. These are then linked to the document as document topics where the outcomes are allocated. A further level of connection is when the course dates are linked into events.

However consider the following scenario: A driving instruction school that offers lessons by the hour, or part there of, lessons might be bought singularly or in groups but there is no standard length nor delivery schedule. Running the business where flexibility is offered and the business model is to able to cater for drop ins as well as later or earlier starts. This means that the instructors, who paid by the hour, need to be utilized to their fullest (not to mention the vehicles utilization) . If the lesson runs over by 15 minutes it has an impact on all the future scheduled courses. Many lessons are run per day.

Using the conventional short course use of course dates represent just one participant, ie no longer is a course date a way to collate a number of documents. Additionally course dates get their time from the Topics, so we have a Course Date to one Document to one topic relationship. What is more the fexibility offered by this organisation is not offered in a conventional short course arrangement (imagine each person starting the course at a different time). Perhaps this is more similar to an e-learning or rolling enrolment environment:

For e-learning courses one course date is set up to gather all enrolments for the entire year, this allows us to capture rolling enrolments, if necessary for AVETMISS reporting purposes we can, on the Document Topic, set an activity start date and an activity end date to be precise in the start and end dates of the activity.

While this reduces complexity it does remove the fine control over times associated to when the activities are being delivered.

The short answer is that is not really a solution for time based delivery, however it does some pretty other amazing stuff, automation and management, that makes this complex problem worth analyzing further for a work around or solution.

The basic constraints we are faced with in this scenario:

  • Lessons need to be moved often at late notice or even after the completion, not just by date but often by time, eg. +/- 15 minutes

  • Lessons are linked to one student, ie a instructor can’t teach more than one person at a time

  • The solution needs to be straightforward enough that there are not too many steps each time, ie more than 4 clicks for a regular action (50% of the time) is too much.

Solution 1

Intend to add all lessons to one document, and create a course date as a group of lessons (as these will have all the same course category ie license type). This would mean there is just one enrolment and the topics are then added to that enrolment. This allows fine control of the timing and dates of the topics however these require modification of the topics and then creation or linking at the Document (to enable marking by the instructor). The steps would be a) create course date topic, b) search and add topic to document, c) add document form and d) edit the Document Topic form

Exams are another complexity - they are specified by the local transport authority, not the training organisation so must be entered regardless of the school’s schedule.

Solution 2

Intend to add a document per lesson, so have a course date (and topic) per lesson. This means that each course date will need to be created at each request.

Exploring the Driving School requirements I am wondering if we should use course dates or document topics for the lessons (where there is a one course date per document arrangement):

Course Dates

  • PROS: They change date easily, we can send messages using existing processes and rules, if needed we can still set up Course Date Topics.
  • CONS: They don’t have times on them, when times change these are edited at the Course Date Topic level. Require a registration for each lesson. Grouping by Events adds another layer of complexity.

Document Topic

  • PROS: Include dates and times, kept in one place - under a document, likely where resources will be allocated
  • CONS: Changes mean altering the Course Date Topic - and possibly the Document Topic, so are fiddly.