Answering the data collection form in Optime

    A data collection form can be created for teachers about their obstacles regarding teaching times and facilities, as well as on their preferred teaching hours. In addition, custom questions can be added.

    If a questionnaire is created for you, you will receive an email containing a link to the questionnaire. You can also find the questionnaire on Optime’s front page under Notifications.

    Receiving and opening the form

    You get to answer a data collection form once a timetabler (typically  an education coordinator) creates a form and chooses you as one of the recipients. You’ll receive an email about the form. The email gets sent on the language the timetabler has used, but you can change the language of the form on the front page of Optime. Optime can be used in Finnish, Swedish and English.

    In case you haven’t answered the questions by the deadline, the timetabler might send you a reminder email via Optime.

    If you know that you won’t be teaching at all in the next academic year you can ignore the form. In case you receive multiple forms it’s adequate that you answer one.

    You can access the form through the Optime front page that has a notification link that leads to the questionnaire form.
    Image showing a notification on the Optime front page.
    You can also access the form by clicking the link in the e-mail that was sent to you when the form was created.
    Image showing the email you will receive once a form has been created for you.
    When logging in, use your University username and password.

    The sender of the form is visible on the form, so you can contact them if any questions arise.

    Answering the questions on the form

    The purpose of the standard questions in the questionnaire is to collect information about the dates and times when you are unavailable to teach, the times that you’d prefer for your teaching, and the rooms that are not suitable for your teaching. Your timetabler may also choose to include their own custom free-form questions.
    Image showing the front page of the form.
    Before you can send the form back to the timetabler, you have to answer all the questions. However, you can select the answer “I have no preferences” to the questions that aren’t relevant to you.

    1. Not available to teach

    Image showing Unavailable to Teach Times section.
    Here you can tell the timetablers which dates, date ranges, times or days of the week are not suitable at all for any of your teaching. Only unsuitable times on weekdays between 8 am and 8 pm need to be entered.

    If you have no obstacles, you can also select “I have no preferences”, being then able to proceed with the other questions.

    If you do have obstacles, start by clicking the Add button and the selection window opens.
    Image showing the selector for times.
    Open the selections and you’ll get the above view. You can input either singular dates or date ranges, days of the week (Saturday and Sunday are automatically excluded) or times of the day (mornings before 8am or evenings after 8pm are automatically excluded).

    Combinations (e.g. Mondays 8–12am) are also possible as long as they are logical and not contradictory, like Mon 17.2.–Thu 20.2. together with Fridays (as that date range doesn’t include a Friday). When given such combinations, the programme warns that “The combination of dates and days selected will not create any constraints” ergo the selection is not possible.

    You could, however, create a combination that combines 17.2.–20.2. with times 8.00–12.00, which would mean that on those days you cannot teach in the mornings but the afternoons are ok.
    Image showing the selector for times with the above-mentioned times selected.
    You can also add multiple selections. In addition to the above example, you might want to tell that you’re going to a conference on the 16th of April. Then you click the Add button again and select the single date.

    You can edit or remove your selections using the icons on the right hand side of the selections.
    Image showing three selected times and highlighting the location of Edit and Remove buttons.
    If you wish, you can include more information in the free-text field at the bottom of the page. Please note that you don’t need to report the reasons for your unavailability.

    When you’re ready, click the Save progress button and you’ll get back to the front page.

    2. Preferred teaching times

    Here you can indicate the times of the week you would most prefer your teaching to be at.

    Please note that this concerns all your teaching; if you have needs relating to the schedule of a specific course, please report them in the questionnaire on the teaching programme. Please also note that teaching can’t always be scheduled for the preferred times, as the students’ schedules and availability of facilities also affect timetabling; if you have specific times when you are absolutely unavailable to teach, please report them under question #1 (see above).
    Image showing Preferred Teaching Times section with several times selected.
    To enter preferences, click on the schedule to add selections, then drag and resize them as needed. You can remove selections by clicking on them.

    If you wish, you can include additional information in the free-text field at the bottom of the page.

    When you’re ready, click the Save progress button to save and return to the front page of the questionnaire.

    If you have no special wishes, you can also select “I have no preferences”.

    3. Undesirable rooms

    Image showing Avoid Rooms section with one room selected.
    Here you can tell the timetabler the rooms in which you can’t teach (within the campus/campuses that are relevant to your teaching). Find the room in the Rooms field (you can limit the search by choosing a site (i.e. campus) and/or a building first) and click Add.

    If you wish, you can provide additional information in the free-text field at the bottom of the page. Please note that you don’t need to report the reasons for your obstacles. However, as it is important for work safety and organizing reasons for your superior to be made aware that there are rooms in which you can’t teach, please also notify them of any such rooms.

    When you’re ready, click the Save progress button to save and return to the front page of the questionnaire.

    For occupational safety reasons it’s needed that you inform also your supervisor about the rooms you can’t teach in.

    If there are no rooms in which you’re unable to teach, please answer “I have no preferences”.

    Q. Custom questions created by the timetabler

    The timetabler may also ask some custom questions that do not actually constrain the planning, but which the planner has thought useful for the planning process. These are answered simply by typing the answer. After answering, you have to remember to click the blue Save Progress button on the left to be able to proceed.
    Image showing a custom question.

    Submitting the form to the timetabler

    Once you’ve answered all the questions you’ve been asked, the front page’s Save Progress button changes into a Finish button. By clicking it the form is submitted back to the timetable. See the subsequent flow of the process below.
    Image showing the Finish button after all sections have been filled.
    The next chapter outlines the process from here on.

    Accepting, editing and rejecting the answers

    Once you’ve completed and sent the form, you’ll get an e-mail on the language you were logged in when answering. Using the link in the e-mail you can edit your answers as long as they haven’t been accepted or denied.

    N.B.! Once your answers have been either accepted or denied altogether, you can only view – not edit – your answers, and only via the link in the e-mail. Save the e-mail if you wish to view your answers at a later date.
    Image showing the email you will receive once the form has been sent.
    After receiving the form, the timetabler can check your answers. If all questions have been answered according to instructions, they will then accept the form, creating constraints that will affect the teaching schedules planned for you.

    However, if needed, the education coordinator may also send the questionnaire back to you with comments. You can then edit your answers. You’ll get a new e-mail with the comments and a link to edit the form:
    Image showing the email you will receive if your form should be sent back for revision.
    After changing your answers according to the feedback you can send the form back to the timetabler.

    Once the timetabler has accepted our answers, you’ll also get a confirmation e-mail. These e-mails also contain a link to your form – however, you can only view your answers, no longer edit them.
    Image showing the email you will receive once the form has been confirmed.
    The sender of the form is visible on the form as well, so you can also contact them if any questions arise, or if for example the dates/times you’re unavailable to teach change after you have submitted the questionnaire.

    Read more

    You can read more about planning of teaching, and the role of this form in it, in the article Teaching Programme. You can find more information on how teaching programmes are planned by degree programmes in Flamma (requires logging in) 

    You can read more about the tools you can use to manage your teaching in the article Managing Your Teaching.

    You will find more information in Flamma on how to use the calendar view and making of room reservation requests. The user manual should be moving from the blog platform to Flamma during the autumn of 2020.