Florence, a teacher at one public school walks into the IT department's office. She borrows a few IPADs that the school had recently bought to show some videos of plants to her students. She logs her request in a typical loan register book and takes out the tablets. As the day passes, she becomes so busy that she forgets to return it back in time, leaving other potential borrowers stranded.
Patrick is the IT manager of another school. Although he is supposed to take care of IT for the school, he usually gets dragged into activities are related to managing classroom scheduling for the upcoming term, handling resource allocation requests and coordinating activities for PTA using a variety of tools like outlook calendar, google forms and spreadsheets.This process is fraught with miss-communication, conflicts and re-preparation that takes up a lot of his time.
Schools have unique challenges when it comes to managing the scheduling of rooms and resources and here we highlight some of the unique benefits that schools will gain when using a room and resource booking system. Most schools are tight on staffing and have very limited budgets that can bring in advanced technologies to manage and monitor assets. But, implementing a simple room and resource reservation system does not need to be a major capital expenditure. With the modern cloud based systems, schools can be get up and running in no time.
Below, we show some of areas where a simple room and resource reservation system can be beneficial to the school.
Scheduling Of Classrooms
Classrooms require special attention as they are specifically used for teaching purposes. There are special rules that apply to booking of classrooms. For example, priority is given to scheduling of classes for the terms prior to allowing staff to book ad hoc schedules for other purposes. More over, the system should be able to communicate with the class scheduling system used by schools to create the term calendar. The ability to upload the schedule into the system can help reduce errors during double entry.
Controlling Labs & Special Rooms
Labs and Special Rooms like music room, robotics labs and photography rooms have expensive equipment that needs to be protected and access to them should be regulated. Some rooms and resources may also require a quota system for usage so that all staff and students get equal opportunity to use them. With some rules such as approval workflow for reservation confirmations and group level viewing and booking access rights provide much needed control over these precious assets.
Resource management and allocation is a common problem faced by schools. Most schools employ a register like log book to track check-ins and check-outs. However, there is no automated way to tell when an item is to be returned and going back in history means literally flipping through the pages to search for a particular item. A system is needed where resources can be checked out by the staff or students with the ability to get notified when items need to be returned. The check-out process can be simplified by using a standard bar code scanner to scan the items and the staff or student cards. An automated email or SMS notification can greatly improve the returning of the items for others to use. Prevention of loss of items will greatly reduce the need to re purchase those items and also makes stock taking and auditing easier.
All schools are overloaded when it comes to managing events such as meet-the-parents sessions, open houses, field trips and other activities. These events require a lot of planning in terms of manpower, venues, resources, communication and coordination. A system that can capture the quantity reserved and deduct from the total quantity will provide information on the balance available so that other users can plan their resource needs appropriately. A single platform that can handle all the room and resources can greatly increase visibility into what is available and what requires ordering from external sources if the required quantity is not available. Larger schools with a dedicated events coordination team can have simple workflows that allow proper coordination and sequencing of activities.
Managing school rooms and resources is complex job made worse by using ad-hoc tools that have no built in rules. With growing pressure on staff to better manage their existing assets, it is important to have complete control and visibility into existing resources.