Aug 25, 2017

How to Develop a Classroom Scheduling Application

Vladimir Sidorenko
Vladimir Sidorenko

Teachers and former students probably remember the times when they had to compose the schedule in writing on a piece of paper. As most “pre-tech era” activities, it took an awful amount of time and effort, and if a schedule needed some alterations, it would have probably turned from a neatly structured table into a heap of crossed out words and ad scripts, a total muddle. These days are over because students and teachers can create a detailed and nice-looking schedule in a matter of minutes with the help of a well-elaborated application.

The Types of Classroom Scheduling Applications

There are two groups of people who will use such an application on a daily basis: teachers and students.

Teachers will use this application to create a work schedule, lecture plans and take the necessary work-related notes during the class or a meeting at the principal's office. Students will make use of such an application during the course of an entire academic year: from creating a classroom schedule to unticking the boxes opposite to passed exams.

This article will tell about the ideas for the application that would suit both types of users and, in general, become a great helper for all people who are involved in the educational process.

Who Will Benefit From Using the Scheduling Application?

The classroom scheduling application can be successfully put into use in virtually any educational institution, perhaps only with the exception of the ones that deal with preschool children.

  • Elementary schools
  • Secondary schools
  • Grammar schools
  • Technical vocational schools
  • Colleges
  • Universities
  • Academies
  • Various professional courses, for example, language courses
  • Evening schools
  • Retraining courses

Features of a great classroom scheduling application

The capability of the classroom scheduling application may differ with regard to the type of educational institution and the complexity of its educational program. For instance, the basic version will be suitable for such teaching institutions as elementary schools or training courses. It is rather unsophisticated and has a vast range of limitations:

  • Master schedule that is available on both laptops and mobile devices
  • Single version of the schedule, with changes propagated to everybody
  • Notifications about upcoming classes and schedule changes
  • Manual scheduling
  • Automatic scheduling with just a simple set of rules

The fully fledged version of the schedule application contains the following features:

  • Automatic timetable scheduling with complex rules like individual teacher working schedule, holidays, academic rules, classes plans
  • Exceptions management like one time replacements or individual class reschedule
  • Easy management of vacation and sick leave days within a schedule
  • Reconciliation of timetables for several academic buildings or faculties
  • Attendance tracking and absentees flagging
  • Parent Access feature allows the parents to check the schedule and the absence - rate of their children
  • Student Access provides the students with an opportunity to customize the - schedule and add extra curriculum activities and supplementary courses to the - initial schedule

The main requirement a good developer has to keep up with, is that an application should be user-friendly and easy to navigate. Students or teachers are not necessarily tech-savvy, while functionality of the application might be quite overwhelming. So extra has to be taken in order to create a simple to use UI.

Special Features for Students and Lecturers

Systems like this show same UI for common features, but can easily add or remove functions or entire sections based on current user's permissions. This allows easily creating features that are for teachers or students only.

Teachers, for example, will want this application not only to be a schedule builder, but also to provide them with the opportunity to access the work-related material, to be sophisticated and to bring a certain degree of automation into the teaching process.

Students might benefit from built-in messaging capabilities, anonymous Q&A with teacher, staring class-related notes.

Regular features

  • Synchronization with other devices, like laptops and tablets.
  • Timetable scheduling for even-numbered and odd-numbered weeks.
  • A collection of widgets with the help of which the app reminds about all remaining classes for the day.
  • Dash Clock support which will allow the user to see the information about classes on the lock screen.
  • Provision of a back-up by a cloud service, so none of the stored data will get lost and the user can work with schedules and other information even without an access to the Internet.
  • Notifications regarding home assignments, exams, and classes. The teacher may also receive notifications about upcoming events or urgent meetings.
  • The application with automatically set the phone to mute during class hours which is an indispensable feature for absent-minded students.
  • Export of data from other programs, like Microsoft Excel.
  • A built-in alarm clock which will not let the user miss a class.
  • The multi-language support which will make the app useful for international students in the English-speaking countries and for the global audience.
  • Different icons for different types of classes: lecture, discussion, seminar, laboratory, studio, independent study.

This is a common set of features which can be supplemented by new ideas and options by the virtue of updates. As you can see, this class scheduling app has all basic features which similar apps might have, as well as some unique ideas which may help this product meet the competition on the global market.

Development cost for the class scheduling application

Price depends greatly on your target audience and desired set of features. It is a common practice to start with a minimal product, that will be used by a limited set of users, and later extend it based on feedback, and invite more people.

Such minimal application, targeted to only management or only teachers for example might cost around $8000 - $12000

One mistake people often do is choose the cheapest provider for the initial project version and then build on top of it. While quick-n-dirty minimal product is a reasonable tool for idea validation and attracting investments, it's an awful foundation for a long-running scalable project. If you are planning to build upon initial version - you need to find a partner, who is capable of creating a scalable architecture even on initial stages of the project.

Technology stack for the course scheduling software

When building custom business applications it is important to use general purpose tools that won't impose any limits on the functionality that you are planning to implement.

We suggest using Django or Ruby on Rails on the backend, and Angular or React on the frontend.

It is important to keep in mind that application must be easily accessible at all times, so you'll need a mobile application as well. The most effective way to create it is to use NativeScript, Ionic or React Native in order to reuse your web application code in mobile application.

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