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Module starts pattern

A description of the preferred start times for the activities that are associated with the module.

For example, at an institution, the periods might be 30 minutes long, and start on the hour and at half-past the hour. You might prefer that activities start on the hour.

Shading a period in the strongest green colour specifies a strong preference that activities start at that time. Conversely, shading a period in the strongest red colour indicates a strong preference that activities should not start at that time:

Figure 13: Example of a starts pattern

The starts pattern is a soft constraint. So, despite the specified start time preferences, an activity may be scheduled for an unpreferred start time, if hard constraints cause it to be the only available time.

Note: When determining the best time for an activity to be scheduled, this preferred starts pattern is just one of the soft constraints that is taken into consideration. The institution object and individual activities of a module might each have a preferred starts pattern.

If there is an institution-wide policy of starting on the hour then the preferred start pattern should be set at the institution level; it would not be necessary to set the same pattern for each module. However, if patterns are specified at multiple levels, and the pattern for the module or activity conflicts with the pattern for the institution, then Enterprise Timetabler uses "scheduling preference strengths" to determines which constraint should exert the most influence. Scheduling preference strengths specify the relative importance of each soft constraint.

The main differences between a starts pattern and an availability pattern are that:

  • Week patterns are not relevant to starts patterns.
  • When you customise a starts pattern, you specify a level of preference for each period, rather than a basic "yes\no" availability.

To set the preference level for a period, click a colour from the palette (1, above) beside the week grid. The palette contains colours that represent a range of preferences from strong red (strongly avoid) to strong green (strongly prefer). Then, apply the colour to periods (2); you can use the same actions that you use when you specify period availability, see Edit the availability of periods.