Jisc case studies wiki Case studies / Course Data - University of Greenwich
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Course Data - University of Greenwich

Funded by the: Jisc e-Learning programme.

Lead Institution: University of Greenwich.

Learner Provider Type: Higher Education

Project Duration: January 2012 - March 2013

Key Words: Course Data

Case study tags: course data, process improvement, course information, university of greenwich

Note: This is an abridged version of this project's final report.  The full version is available here.

 

University of Greenwich

Project Summary

This project represented the University of Greenwich’s contribution to the Jisc initiative to encourage universities to adopt a data standard for eXchanging Course Related Information with associated Course Avertising Profile (XCRI-CAP). In common with the other institutions taking part in the Jisc programme, we produced an XML feed of information about our programmes (=courses; Note: ‘courses’ in the Jisc terminology are called ‘programmes’ at the University of Greenwich. The components of programmes are referred to as modules.) using the XCRI-CAP standard. This is available from the end of March 2013 at a COOL Uniform Resource Indicator (URI) (http://w2.gre.ac.uk/data/courses.xml) for outside bodies to access, for example, on course comparison websites. The XML feed is also available for internal users, and can be customised and extended to meet their requirements. The XML feed covers a variety of credit-bearing programmes: undergraduate and postgraduate, on-campus and distance learning, at the university itself as well as at UK and overseas partners. As a result of the XCRI feed, efficiency and accuracy are improved: information is entered once as part of the validation and review process and is subsequently used for many purposes without the need to retype or transfer between systems.

 

Immediate Impact

In the original Project Implementation Plan, WP5 was the next stage after the implementation of the XCRI feed of publicising it both within the university and to collaborative partners. Because the feed has only just been finished, this activity is only just about to start. The feed was presented to stakeholders at the Project Board meeting on 13 March 2013. To reach a wider audience, a workshop has been arranged as part of the University’s annual Recruitment, Admissions and Access conference on 6 June 2013. The University of Greenwich also has a network of collaborative partners. Dissemination to them allows us to bring the XCRI-CAP message to a wider audience than just our own institution. A workshop specifically for collaborative partners has been scheduled as part of the Partner College Directors’ Group meeting on 15 May.

 

Future Impact

Going forward, the external impact of the XCRI project is likely to be dependent on the extent to which the feed taken up by the sector and whether third parties start demanding programme information in this format. This is dependent on the success of the Jisc project as a whole and beyond the scope of any one participating institution.

 

Internally, the XCRI project has allowed us to understand better the processes in use in the field of programme information, and to formalise these processes. Although the use of an external Business Analyst was necessitated by internal staff changes, this was actually helpful in giving us a broader perspective. We have developed a methodology for providing the XCRI-CAP feed which is transferable elsewhere. When internal users demand programme or module data, we would now consider this as the methodology of choice for providing it.

 

Conclusions

In general, it is possible to conclude that the external provision of information about our programmes continues to increase in importance. The need for accurate and timely information that is gathered in a reliable and efficient way is of key importance to universities trying to recruit in a difficult climate. The adherence to external standards is helpful in achieving this.

 

The opportunity to review and improve internal procedures from time to time is helpful. Even when existing procedures are working well, small tweaks can improve the efficiency of information gathering and the accuracy of the resulting information. The structures of a formal project (project implementation plans; timelines and milestones; project board meetings with agendas, papers and minutes; assessments of project achievements) enhance communication between different parts of the institution and the flow of information.

 

The Jisc management of the project as a whole worked well, with a good balance between on-line and face-to-face meetings. The opportunity to meet with other institutions doing similar projects acted both as a check that we were on the right track and a spur to further action. However, because there were only a few other institutions using the same Banner Student Record System as us, we were not able to engage in any close co-operation with other institutions.

 

Recommendations

The University of Greenwich are grateful for the help and support given by Jisc throughout the project. The face-to-face and on-line meetings have been useful for keeping in touch with Jisc and with other projects. However, it has been a source of frustration that Jisc have not been able to persuade more outside bodies to promise to make use of the feeds. In particular, the lack of interest shown by UCAS has undermined the usefulness of the exercise. We would recommend that Jisc should maintain responsibility for:

(a) keeping a directory of public XCRI-CAP feeds

(b) continuing to try to persuade outside bodies to request course information in the XCRI-CAP format and

(c) keeping a register of external websites known to be using the feed.

 

Contact details:

Project Manager: Katarina Thomson

Contact email: k.e.thomson@greenwich.ac.uk