Posts Tagged ‘Humanities’

Update + Save the date for our dissemination

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Hello all,

Although we have been a bit quiet on both the twitter and  blog front, we are still working hard behind the scenes. I thought I would do a quick update just to let you know how we’re currently getting on. Firstly, we are currently organising our dissemination event! We have it planned out for Monday 29th October. We will be releasing some more information about the content of the event very soon but for now please pop this in your diaries.

Furthermore, we are also working on writing the training strategy for the project. We have a lot of training in the pipeline and we need to organise how we’re going present this, whilst also planning for the upkeep of training after the project has finished. Once we have implemented the workflow into iPaMS there will need to be brand new training for the users so we are looking into this whilst we write the strategy. Currently all the users in iPaMS have had module training; this has included a range of documentation, video and training sessions to teach them how to add and edit modules in iPaMS. We are currently also working towards designing and producing programme training as users will soon be able to start entering programme data into iPaMS. This leads nicely into my next point.

As project support officers, Cat and myself  have started to enter some of the 12/13 programme data into iPaMS already and so far we have around 111 programmes in there. The majority of these programmes are from Humanities, however, we are also working on CLES programmes too. We have found this to be a little stressful at times, as the programme template in iPaMS is arranged differently to those on word documents that we have received. Therefore, it can sometimes take a while to find the right information to put into the correct field in iPaMS, but after entering a couple of programmes we got a good sense of where to find everything. Entering the data ourselves has helped us to think about the training we need to provide users when they come to enter this data.

Lastly, we have been focusing on the iPaMS web service. We have written up a functional specification and this has been distributed to the internal stakeholders. We are now currently waiting for this to be signed off and then we can crack on with setting this up.

We hope everyone’s projects are going well, please keep us up to date with any new blogs or twitter accounts regarding #coursedata projects. We love to know how you’re all doing.

Lauren (Project Support Officer)


Module Templates

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One part of the project we are focusing on at the moment is to start archiving module data. To be able to do this we need all the descriptor templates that have been used over the previous years, to be created in iPaMS. With help from the faculty office we have located all seven of these descriptors. With agreement from the project board we will initially be working on archiving only data up to 08/09, however we have worked on adding older module descriptors in case we need to archive further back.

So far in iPaMS we have 3 module descriptors. First is the new 12/13 module descriptor which Humanities have been working on for their new module data. The second descriptor is known as the “DWAiPaMS” descriptor. As mentioned in the previous post “ Humanities Update” we moved 11/12 data from the 11/12 descriptor into iPaMS and put it into the 12/13 format to help Humanities work on their 12/13 data. The third descriptor we have is known as “Phase 1 descriptor”; this was used to import 10/11 data from the phase 1 project of iPaMS.

Module Template

We are now working on making a few more descriptors in iPaMS that will allow us to start archiving College data. The first descriptor we need is a “DWAI descriptor”. DWAI is the system used by both Humanities and SSIS (Social Science and International Studies). One problem with this system is the data does not follow the standard descriptor format made by faculty office that the other Colleges follow. In fact, DWAI holds only one template that has been used throughout the years, as far back as 03/04. This means we will need a whole template dedicated to DWAI which will allow all data to be imported onto this one template from both SSIS and Humanities.

We have also worked out we need three more templates to be held in iPaMS, one each for 06/07, the revised 06-08 and the 08-12. The changes between the templates are only slight, such as merging/ splitting of fields, but to be able to archive the data correctly these templates need to be made separate.

The next step, once all the templates are made in iPaMS, is to bring the archived data in from Humanities and SSIS and then start work on copying and pasting CLES’ (College of Life and Environmental Science) data in by hand, as their modules are all held on word/pdf. We will then look into importing data from the Business School and EMPS (Engineering, Mathematics and Physical Science) as they each have separate databases.


Humanities Update #2

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In previous posts we have talked about the dates that were set for Humanities.

• Basic functionality of iPaMS (view/edit/copy) revise 11/12 data into 12/13 data: 14th Feb
• Data for 12/13 then feed to their intranet pages: 1st March (For online module choice)

These target dates were all met and  this blog post will focus on our experience of Humanities moving from dwai to iPaMS.

Lauren Welland – Project Support Officer
“Initially the first week Humanities moved over to iPaMS, all was quiet, I didn’t hear from anyone for a few days. It wasn’t until a week later people started using iPaMS and this is where the questions came rolling in. The majority of the questions were about how to use iPaMS, I instructed users to firstly follow the training material, whilst also giving them help via the phone. It started to become obvious that people didn’t have time to read/watch the training material and felt it easier to ring up with their questions. After a few weeks of questions regarding how to use iPaMS, new emails and calls were now coming through regarding issues with their data. I began logging all the calls and emails I received into a spreadsheet. My job was to co-ordinate between the users and the developers, working on these issues to resolve them as quickly as possible. By investigating the issue log we were able to see specific issues were spread throughout a number of users, whereas some issues were specific to particular users. This allowed us to investigate why some of these problems were coming to light for some and not others. A few of the main issues which I would be contacted about daily were regarding the names of the convenors and problems with logging in. Since the last two upgrades we have had on iPaMS, the majority of the issues have all been sorted now. The only main problems we have left is convenors/lecturers’ titles not showing when feeding to the web but this is currently being worked on.”

Helen Connole – iPaMS Lead Developer
“On 1st March the Hums intranet switched over to using the iPaMS web service. There were a few teething troubles as the web service displayed items in the order and formatting of the module template which was used as the basis of the iPaMS template design. Humanities however wanted to customise this to look more like their current intranet, and with a bit of tweaking at the front end, such as not showing blank data fields, they were able to achieve the result they wanted. Ben is planning to produce some documentation around this so that web developers in the colleges can best utilise the web service for their needs.”

Ben Norcombe – iPaMS Developer

“Over the past few months I have been helping with switching Humanities intranet over to the iPaMS web service whilst also helping resolve users’ issues. One of the main issues we have had, that I have been working on, was users being logged off/ unable to log into iPaMS, using SSO. To solve this problem, last Wednesday we released the Zend_Auth OpenSSO adapter to iPaMS allowing the application to authenticate against the university’s installation of OpenSSO within the application. This decoupling from the university’s SSO gives us the flexibility to assign the user with a Zend_Auth identity and then utilse Zend Framework’s Acl authorisation classes while using the secure authentication methods available in OpenSSO. As the adapter was written with portability in mind we have made it available to our colleagues within the university and there could be an opportunity to contribute the code to the Zend Framework library code base.”

The next stage for Humanities, which we will blog about soon, is to move both their programme data and archived data over to iPaMS. We are currently working on making the old module descriptor templates in iPaMS ready to import the data over from dwai. We are also working on the new 12/13 programme descriptor, investigating how we can link modules to the programmes and best use the data that will be held in iPaMS. Keep an eye out on the twitter page @JISC_CRIATE for more regular updates on these tasks.


Humanities Update

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We have been working with Humanities, our pilot College, for some time now. We first started collecting their 10/11 module data when the original stage 1 course data project took place. We have carried on working with them for stage 2 and in October last year we started collecting their 11/12 module data. The main reasons behind collecting module data first over programme data were due to module selection in March and the KIS return. The majority of Humanities’ data was held in a database known as Dwai, the rest of the modules were held in pdf. With 161 modules held in pdf the initial stage was to copy the data out into an excel spreadsheet; this took around 4 days to complete. Next we looked at moving the data from Dwai into iPaMS. Our initial problem with this data was iPaMS would be using the new 12/13 module template, which faculty office had not asked the Colleges to move onto until May. There was quite a large difference between the format of data held in Dwai (free text boxes) to the new module descriptor (structured tables). Graham Fereday (Computing Development Officer and Team Leader for Humanities) felt it was best to build a new temporary database whilst iPaMS was still being developed; this is how DwaiPaMs was born. DwaiPaMs was formatted to the new module template, Graham imported data from Dwai and any fields that had the same field names were matched and pre-populated with the data. The data that didn’t transfer easily into the new fields of the module descriptor was left within the database for us to copy and paste into the correct fields. This took around a month to cleanse all the 600 modules. Once this had finished, at the end of December, Helen (our developer) was ready to start importing this data into iPaMS. So far, the data is in iPaMS ready for the Humanities’ administration staff to start using to revise and turn into 12/13 data. Here are the two important dates regarding Humanities and their modules.

• Basic functionality of iPaMS (view/edit/copy) revise 11/12 data into 12/13 data: 14th Feb
• Data for 12/13 then feed to their intranet pages: 1st March (For online module choice)

We are now working on collecting Humanties’ programme data. This is similar to the module data in regards to some being presented in pdf and the rest being held in Dwai. Although there is a new programme descriptor for 12/13, we have decided to keep the data in its standard 11/12 format (even if Dwai doesn’t fully comply to this format). Faculty office have asked for the transfer of 12/13 data to be in the new programme format by August time. By bringing the data in on the standard format it will allow administrators the choice to copy over their 11/12 programmes on the new template for 12/13 now or keep it in the 11/12 format and transfer to the new 12/13 format nearer the time. We are currently waiting for iPaMS to be up and running, this will allow me to copy in the pdf data straight into the database, rather than copying it into a spread sheet and then importing. From previous experience with importing spread sheets into iPaMS, Helen has found it causes problems with erroneous characters. For the rest of the programme data, we hope to import straight from Dwai into iPaMS. This will still need some cleansing and correcting as I mentioned before, Dwai doesn’t follow the current 11/12 and contains a lot of free text boxes.

For now, we are on track to meet the 14th of February deadline where we will allow basic functionality of iPaMS to be used by Humanities’ administrators. Before this happens we need to compile some training material and run some training sessions. This will allow the administrators get to grips with iPaMS and will also provide us with important feedback. iPaMS is still being developed, so any useful comments the administrators give us will help towards future improvements within iPaMS.