JISC Coursedata-tech Day

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


  1. Alan Paull says:

    Hi Helen

    >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…

    I’ll have a go at answering your question. Although ordering of data items is not part of the XCRI-CAP 1.2 specification, it *is* part of the XCRI-CAP 1.2 XML schema. I can therefore confirm that the order of the data elements in your feed is important.

    The specification is a formal description of XCRI-CAP data structures and data items. It can be implemented and coded in many different ways, for example through a W3C schema (as we have used in Craig’s validator), through an RDF schema, through schematron or through JSON. Each of these implementation formats is generally referred to as a ‘binding’, and each can meet the requirements of the specification. However, as they would be using different implementation technologies, they would only be directly inter-changeable if a developer produced something to convert one implementation format into another.

    The XCRI-CAP community has usually used a W3C XML schema approach, and we’ve re-used some linked schemas to save re-designing common data elements, like ‘title’ or ‘identifier’. We have also implemented the XCRI-CAP schema, so that it is compliant with the European Norm, Metadata for Learning Opportunities (MLO). There are other ways of doing this – in fact, I have a different implementation that just puts all the XCRI-CAP items in one schema, thereby avoiding any namespace difficulties. However, this is not the ‘official’ schema.

    I hope this helps.

    Alan Paull

  2. Cheers for the info Alan. We’re now building in controllable ordering of our course data web services, so we should be able to meet this validation requirement.

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