Archive for November, 2012

JISC Progress Report

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This is a summary of the recent progress report we submitted to JISC, who are funding part of our project.


We now have varying amounts of data held by 5 out of the 6 colleges at Exeter and key staff in these colleges have been trained on iPaMS. Archive data is currently being brought in to iPaMS from legacy systems through database exports and this is progressing well. A robust, scalable and universal web feed is being developed for use to supply our internal and external websites with academic and marketing information for modules and programmes.

We have designed (on paper) an electronic workflow system to handle the specific approvals needed for new and amended modules and programmes, as mandated in our Teaching Quality Assurance (TQA) Manual. This will shortly enter the coding phase; however the pre-requisite for workflow, Version Control, will soon be available for alpha-testing.

We know we still have a lot of work to achieve before the end of the project, but a lot of the uncertainty around design and requirements has now gone and we are confident we will achieve our goals.

Outcomes and Lessons Learnt

  • Ease of access to course information
  • Robust archive of course information
  • Improved collation of data to be included in the KIS
  • Efficiency savings in administrative processes
  • Ease of data transfer via XCRI-CAP
  • Use of course data in other systems
  • Engagement with the community

Risks Issues and Challenges

We realised earlier in the project that we would need more development capacity than the 1 x 0.8FTE and 1 x 0.5TFE we had working for us. The risk of not acting was that we would fall behind with development tasks and end up having to drop features that were advantageous for the University, in order to bring the project in on time. Fortunately we managed to re-assign some internal resource so we now have (in addition to the above), 1 x 1.0FTE and 1 x 0.4FTE on the project, whose contributions have been noticeable and much appreciated.

We have also found that deadlines in the academic cycle put pressure on the project to deliver functionality at certain times and that the more warning we get of these deadlines, the easier it is for us to ensure we are properly supporting our departments and colleges.

Next Steps 

The work over the next few months will be concerned with delivering the following technical elements:

  • Web feed to supply course information to University websites;
  • Version Control to allow drafting of changes to programme and module descriptors before making live;
  • Approval Workflows to ensure appropriate approvals have taken place before putting changes live;
  • XCRI-CAP compliant data extract for future use by course aggregators or other uses;
  • Finishing data loading from legacy systems to allow iPaMS to be the single source of course data and act as an archive as well as a repository for current data;
  • Changing the University web pages to feed from iPaMS course data;
  • Training users to use iPaMS.

The work for all of these tasks is well underway so we now need to ensure we continue to deliver within the timeframes available.

Version History

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Over time we fully expect our programme and module data to change.

Naturally, we would like this to happen in a controlled manner to ensure what we publish is approved by the appropriate members of the University.  Whilst these amendments will adhere to our comprehensive work plan we intend to provide a tool to visually aid the process.

Our version history function not only highlights which fields have changed but will also show the original content giving the option to revert the change back to the last approved value.  The user can also select which version of change they are interested in seeing.

Future amendments will include a full audit trail highlighting all changes and by whom so watch this space.



A Quick Update

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After all the excitement on our blog regarding our event and the JISC courdata meeting, we thought it was time to give you all an update.

 Recently we have been working very hard on getting all our programme and module data into iPaMS. So far we have moved all our archive data from the DWAI system, which the colleges of Humanities and SSIS use, into iPaMS. We have also finished entering both Humanities and SSIS 12/13 programme and module information. Both colleges are now currently checking over their data in the system.

Within the Business School we have finished entering in their 12/13 module data and we are working on entering their 12/13 programme data. We are looking  into moving their archive data from their existing system into iPaMS very soon.

CLES have all their 12/13 module data held in iPaMS and they are currently entering their 12/13 programme data. We have already copied over their archive data into the system.

Our developer is also currently working on the web feeds and once this is up and running and we have all the data held in iPaMS, we are ready to feed the data to the web. We are also starting to look into our workflow, as discussed in our previous post, this is something we were interested in discussing with other projects. We have finished the majority of our consultation around the workflow with each of our colleges and we are now looking to start development in the system, which will be a very complex task.

We are also working hard on designing our version control. We will hopefully have a blog post about this in the near future.

It was lovely to meet many of you at both our CRIATE event in Exeter and the JISC course data event in London. We hope your projects are going well, please keep an eye out on our blog for more updates, as well as our Twitter account.

Course Data Meeting

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Yesterday both Sam and I travelled to London to attend the Course Data progress meeting. We both thoroughly enjoyed ourselves and I personally found the highlight of the day was not only playing with colourful post-it notes but also hearing about how everyone’s projects were going.

After a wonderful lunch we broke out into different sessions and I attended the workflow session. I found this discussion really interesting and we were able to hear about the progress of people’s workflow designs and implementations. There were a range of projects on our table, some who were redesigning their workflow process from scratch and some who, like ourselves, are keeping their current process. The main theme  from around our table was that everyone seemed to be moving their old paper based versions towards a more streamline online process.

Overall, it was a very worthwhile trip and we look forward to hearing more about everyone’s projects over the next coming months.

Marketing Courses with XCRI-CAP Event

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Thank you again to everyone who made it on the day. We enjoyed having each and every one of you. Please see below for the guest speaker’s PowerPoint slides.

  1. The challenges in a busy Marketing Department– Rebecca Euesden, Marketing Manager and Louise Harris, College Marketing Manager (The University of Exeter)
  2. Analysis of the needs of a course listing site – Jayne Rowley, Commercial Director (Graduate Prospects)
  3. Alan Paull – Demonstrations and Making the best use of XCRI-CAP– Alan Paull, XCRI Data Consultant (Alan Paull Services Ltd)
  4. How the Course Data programme is helping – Ruth Drysdale, Course Data Programme Manager (JISC)
  5. iPaMS Progress – Samuel Daly, Project Manager (The University of Exeter)

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