Archive for June, 2012

JISC Coursedata-tech Day

2 Comments »

Myself and Ben Norcombe attended the JISC #coursedata day in London on 20th June. It was an enjoyable and informative day, I always seem to go to London on the warmest day of the year, but thankfully the venue was conveniently located next to Paddington Station so no uncomfortable trips on the Underground at rush hour were necessary!

The day got underway with an overview of XCRI-CAP feed by Rob Engelbright. Having spent a bit of time looking in depth at this we were already familiar with the structure. I was also able to ask Rob about whether our yearly programme descriptor in iPaMS mapped fairly closely to the <presentation> element in XCRI-CAP, and he felt that it did, which is nice to know.

Next followed a demo of the validator by Craig Hawker, again it was something we were familiar with, and as validation tools go it is nice and user friendly, with helpful messages to let you know if something needs changing. We may well have to revisit some of the formats we have chosen for programme descriptor items and see if they match well with XCRI-CAP, and if not look at how we can improve this. Craig mentioned that correct ordering of XCRI-CAP was required by the validator, but is not actually part of the spec, so I don’t know whether that means it is important or not? Maybe a question for JISC…

We then looked at the Aggregator and other tools which will/could utilise XCRI-CAP. It was interesting to see the potential of these and I’m sure something we will be revisiting in the future. If someone writes something useful for Moodle that certainly may be of interest to the University.

There was plenty of time for chatting throughout the day and that was useful, especially to meet people who have some of the same IT systems as we do, such as SITS and T4, and hear about ways in which they were planning to utilise these. Loughborough have certainly done some very clever things with T4 and though I don’t think it would suit our particular project it was interesting to see the possibilities.

The day finished at a civilised hour and we were back on the train with some useful information and a bunch of new people to follow on Twitter, so all in all a productive day.

Helen Connole – CRIATE Lead Developer


Programme Developments

No Comments »

Developments to the programme template have been ongoing over the past month.  As the TQA template has recently been changed it has taken until now for us to receive examples of how fields have been interpreted and the amount of information which has been entered into specific areas.  This has meant that we have had to do some ‘re-arrangement’ to the original template that we designed for iPaMS.  In light of these changes we have started to look at how our data will map against the XCRi-CAP feed.  While we do not plan to develop the actual feed until later in the project we identified only a few pieces of additional information required for XCRi and these have been simple to add into the programme template.  This means that hopefully there will be no changes needed to the template once we start adding more advanced functionality to the system.

Different versions of standard text have been defined for use in the TQA specification and our lead developer Helen has added functionality to the system relating these different text versions to descriptive fields such as the campus identifier.  This text can only be edited for the current academic year and will need to be ‘rolled forward’ for future years.  We have identified this as the most effective way to ensure that historic documents are archived effectively (with the correct version of standard text) and that consideration is given to factors such as developments on campus and any change of resources for each year.  Due to the nature of programme design it was difficult to define this text and the associated relationships.  For example there are a number of learning opportunities which are taught on different (or multiple) campuses and some which are validated by the University of Exeter, but are taught through collaborative provisions.  The need for flexibility in the template has made any standardisation difficult.

Beyond the progress that has been made within iPaMS itself there have also been some other developments in the project.  The faculty office has agreed to the simplified data format that will be used in the PDF output for the TQA specification.  This means that in the future it will be easier to change the information that is required for the TQA specification as using the current format would require specialised skills to edit the template due to the complexity of the code which would have been required to build this.

The web marketing team have started to look at how programme data will be displayed in different sections of the web service.  This was an important driver for the development of iPaMS, ensuring consistency in the way that data is displayed across all of the colleges.  Once this is complete we will be able to make any final assessments of the template before we start entering programme data from the colleges.


Building Effective Screencasts

No Comments »

With our ever growing system and the need for Colleges to move quickly over to iPaMS we have found training material to be of high importance within this project. As mentioned in both previous posts and tweets, we have started work on training material to provide Colleges with direction when entering data into iPaMS. Currently we have both training documents and videos on how to enter and edit module data and we are also working on training material for programmes too. We have had great feedback regarding the training with the highest positive feedback being given for the videos. As our training videos were so highly watched by users, I therefore felt it would be good to brush up on my Screencasting techniques, so booked myself onto a training course.

The course was named “Building Effective Screencasts” and was held in Bristol by JISC Digital Media. Throughout the day I was taught a wide range of skills from microphone techniques to the use of Camtasia Studio. Although I have already been making videos in Camtasia, I still learnt many skills that I will use within my future videos. I would definitely recommend this course for anyone who wants an introduction to building Screencasts.

I am now currently working on a new series of training videos for programmes, whilst also updating the ones I have previously made.  My main priority is to improve the quality of both the video and voice-overs, using some of the skills I learnt from the training day. I am also working on designing a generic intro for all the training videos I make to give it a consistent approach.

If you have any questions about our training videos, please get in contact.

Lauren – Project Support Officer