I went to a meeting about timetabling the other day with a heavy heart, thinking that it would be a wasted two hours. However, I was wrong; once you get away for the idea that timetabling is not about room booking and all about delivering the curriculum, then enhancement and innovation are on the agenda.
Education delivery in 2026 will need a connected and transparent timetable. Students and staff should be able to see personalised timetables, online, on any device in real time. Timetables will need to be aligned and lifted out of the siloes of individual schools and programmes. In 2026 we need to make sure that a student can, potentially, do any combination of modules. A student should be able to sit in front of a monitor, choose a starting module and instantly a pathway of potential programme of accompanying and subsequent modules should light up through the three (or four years) of the study, with the constraints of mutually exclusive classes and prerequisites already taken into account. International students could access this from abroad and thus ease seamlessly into our teaching.
Staff availability could be plugged in to the system, facilitating research sabbaticals and so manging student expectations. As a recruitment tool this would be great, showing applicants the flexibility and the breadth (or depth) of the individual programme they could design to suit their individual interests. Perhaps it could even also work the other way round: employers could plug in the set of knowledge and skills they require, thus highlighting and promting the specific pathways they favour in a graduate. Different pathways would favour different employment areas and this information could be fed back to optimise the curriculum.
There will be challenges: technology being one of them. We will need to manage how assessment maps on to differnt combinations of modules; permitted combinations should ensure that the knowledge and skills portfolio accumulated by a student is not missing in key areas.
It would be a world, full of sweet airs that give delight and hurt not. However, I wouldn’t start from here…!