why-not-thumb.png The conventional approach to scheduling courses is to ask faculty or department heads what will be offered and then to ask either faculty or department heads or deans or registrars when these will be taught and then to present this to students so they can carve out their own education subject to the constraints of the schedule. Their choices are constrained by conflicts in the schedule itself and by conflicts between the schedule and the rest of their lives. At some level we judge the level of interest in various courses based on how many people enroll. The problem is that we leave a lot of information on the table not knowing how much of the final choices students make is due to the constraints imposed by the schedule.

What if we reversed the process and ran course registration more like a KickStarter1 campaign? We announce a set of course offerings and then only actually schedule them if there is sufficient interest and when we do schedule them we use an optimization algorithm so that the matching of students and courses is maximized.

We also note that this might help students to think about what they want to study rather than starting out from the premise that picking classes is about making sure you can work on Fridays or never have to get up before 11 am.