Archive for May, 2012

Progress to Date – May 2012

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We have been working on the CRIATE project for five months now (not counting the work that started internally before the JISC funding) and we have achieved a lot: A full progress report is published on the Documentation tab above.

Our main achievements so far have been:

  • Module templates available for entering module data
  • College of Humanities’ (HUMS) 2012/13 module data entered and feeding to their intranet
  • College of Social Sciences and International Studies’ (SSIS) 2012/13 module data entered
  • College of Life and Environmental Sciences’ (CLES) 2011/12 and 2010/11 module data is nearly all entered
  • End users trained on iPaMS from HUMS, SSIS and CLES

The next month is going to be extremely busy for the project team. We are planning to:

  • Finalise and test the programme template for 2012/13 data
  • Start entering 2012/13 programme data for HUMS, SSIS and CLES
  • Migrate archive programme and module data from HUMS’s and SSIS’s old database
  • Finalise the design for a feed from iPaMS to our various institutional websites (for prospective and current students)
  • Continue designing the online workflow for programme and module approval

We are also planning for a pilot integration with SITS (later this summer). We are already able to display the module diet of a programme in iPaMS (sourced from SITS), but we also want to be able to push data into SITS from iPaMS. The pilot will most likely focus on module information, as this is relatively simple with little dependency on data from other sources. If it is successful, this will open the doors to more data flowing from iPaMS, which will help cut down on administrative tasks and the risk of mis-keying data.

Keep checking our blog, as we will update on each of the tasks above over the next few weeks.


Introduction

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I’m Samantha Briggs, the new Programme Approval Officer in Academic Policy and Standards. I’m working closely with the iPaMS/CRIATE team at the moment, helping them to understand how our programme approval and amendment processes work, so these can be incorporated into the database.

I’m looking forward to being able to see the stage-by-stage development of new programmes though iPaMS/CRIATE, so I can work more closely with Colleges in making the University of Exeter’s programme and module documentation world-class, and to help our College staff tackle barriers in advance of submitting their paperwork for Stage 3 approval by the Dean of Taught Faculty.


Marketing Update

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The Marketing Team on the project team have been looking at how we are going to use the information stored in the iPaMs database, and making it fit for purpose.  The Marketing Team need to be able to confirm information at the earliest stages of development of a programme as we’re communicating with prospective students well in advance of programme start dates. We’re predominantly concerned with web pages for prospective students, but College Web Marketing Officers who are part of our wider team, will potentially be required to amend information published to current students: it’s the visibility of the website which often prompts the required change.

Key developments we are currently undertaking include:

  • Working on the Programme template, keeping in mind what we want to use the information for.  For example, we have suggested that we want a separate Marketing field to list the discipline area the programme falls into.  We discussed pulling the field from SITS, but it was decided that this doesn’t necessarily map onto our discipline/subject list, therefore is one is not fit for our purposes.  We are also keen to have a separate programme description field which we can amend to ensure the information follows our University style guidelines, and is suitable for a prospective student, as well as other audiences who may be seeking information on our website.
  • Amending and creating module descriptions which will be able to publish directly to the website.  In the 9k fee environment, it will be increasingly important for prospective students to know the details of what they will be studying.  Although we provide information at the moment, the iPaMs database will allow us to provide consistent information in a consistent format which can be easily understood by prospective students.  The amends can range from ensuring we are following the University-set style guidelines, to writing a new module description where none exists.  Currently the spreadsheet of modules has 903 modules from the College of Humanities and the College of Social Science and International Studies which have been added to iPaMs, but this is constantly growing as more modules are added by the team, and the colleges.

Programmes

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The consultation period for the programme template is, at long last, complete.  The web developers can now start coding the fields that data will be entered into.  It has been a long and drawn out process ensuring that all future iPaMS users will be able to store all of the necessary information they require against each programme.

Trying to reduce the amount of duplicated information related to programmes has taken up a great deal of time within the consultation period.  In some instances, such as with the programme description, one narrative is required to provide information for the TQA specification, the prospective students and current students sections of the web service and within the undergraduate prospectus.  Traditionally text would feed from separate places to each individual source; iPaMS, as the definitive source of programme information will now hold all text relating to the description of the programme in two fields, this will not only help keep all of the information for each output current but will improve efficiencies in terms of less repetition.

A number of fields required within the TQA Specification will be automatically populated from information collected within other fields.  This again reduces the amount of duplicated information held against each programme and will improve efficiencies within the programme creation process.  Standardised text and links will also be created at college level so that these do not have to be replicated by different departments, the population of these will be determined on the responses given in other fields.

User access to programme fields has also been established.  This will mean that departments will be able to update any changes to programme information that is related to them; most of these changes will automatically feed to the web service and there will be no delay in waiting for this information to be edited in T4.

There are still a number of different areas relating to programmes which have not been defined, such as how they will be linked and whether some fields will push into/ pull from SITS; however now we have defined the fields which are required it will be easier to make a decision on these areas of functionality.