They say that any sufficiently advanced piece of technology is indistinguishable from magic. What does that mean to the PGDM Class of 2016 at SCMS Cochin School of Business?
Picture this: 61 classes, 100+ teachers, over 20 subjects, 8 periods a day, 6 days a week. Now think of all the combinations and variations there would be for everyperiodand each class during a school week. Also, factor in how the subjects vary when the same class of students picks different combinations of subjects in class 11 and 12, or when students from different classes come together to study certain subjects during certain periods. If your head isn’t spinning just yet, think of how you’d factor in substitutions when a teacher is on planned leave, or worse, just unable to show up to work on a particular day. Now imagine if you had to plan this all out year after year, every year for all the classes and all the teachers.
The combinations and variations are mind boggling and would take weeks to get right! This exact work, only with more complications, was done manually year after year by a team of teachers at St. Peters Senior Secondary School, Kolenchery, Ernakulam. That is, until this year when a group of SCMS students led by Assistant Professor Justin Joy customized and introduced timetable management software in the school as part of their internship. The internship concluded recently with the four students behind the project – Faisal K. Abraham, Nirmal Krishnan, Danish Xavier and Edwin Varghese – training the staff and handing over the software to the faculty at St. Peters Senior Secondary School.
In the words of Professor Justin, “Open source timetable management generation and management software and the Moodle learning management system has been successfully implemented in 3 schools over the last two years as part of similar student projects guided by the Systems faculty of SCMS.”What makes the project particularly special is the value it added to the school, bringing down the duration needed for timetablecreation and management from all of summer vacation to only a few hours annually. What’s more is that there is a lot less time and effort required on an ongoing basis from the user since everything is customized to fit the requirements of St. Peters School.
Even as the team isenjoying the sweet smell of victory, having finally achieved their goal, the road to this point wasn’t easy. According to Nirmal Krishnan, one of the students involved in the project, “the sheer number of stakeholders that had to be interviewed during the information and requirements gathering stage was demanding. Another challenge was factoring in the various special conditions during the customization stage. All of this took place while we were learning the basics of project management with a hands-on approach that involved pitching our idea at the right time, working around curve balls, like getting access to either c-panel, dealing with deadlines and delivering the right product at the right time… It was like a live project!”
Another student, Faisal Abraham, recounts his experience as an equally enriching one. Summarizing his key learning from the project, he says communication was the key to success: “Even as there was a lot of concentrated and sincere effort that went into various aspects of the project over the two and half months, I believe that my biggest learning was that timely and accurate communication is key. There were a lot of interviews, discussions and brainstorming sessions with teachers, professors, and management from both sides; it was crucial to interact, ask the right questions and most importantly, learn constantly”.