Posts Tagged ‘Update’

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.


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.

Project Update

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Workflow with the Faculty Office

At the beginning of the week Cat, Sam and I met with Kate and Samantha from the faculty office. We were looking through stage 1 of the workflow which we had previously mapped out at the beginning of the year.  This meeting was very successful in working out what notifications faculty wanted and when they wanted them. It also helped to check the workflow was correct and what needed modifying. It was additionally decided that the faculty office would get their notifications within iPaMS rather than to a central faculty email. We currently still working on the workflow diagram and will be meeting with other departments to discuss their involvement in the workflow.

Lauren Welland (Project Support Officer)


Programmes

We have started to look at how programmes will be stored within iPaMS and which pieces of information we will need to hold against each specific programme.  The functionality of iPaMS has been a major consideration here as information from the programme specification will be used as a marketing tool for prospective students and as an information source for current students, it will hold all of the information required to comply with TQA and QAA standards and be worded in a way that will easily link in with the XCRI- CAP data feed.  Information imputed as a part of the workflow process for approving new programmes will also be archived against each specific programme, as will any changes made to the programme and the date in which these take effect.  Currently we have identified over 100 data entry fields for each programme; once we have established the level of data exchange between SITS and iPaMS this number could increase further.

Cat Hine (Project Support Officer)


User Roles

This week I have been working on assigning roles to users. I have first been creating different roles and permissions within iPaMS. Using Zend navigation I can hide/show relevant links dependent on the permissions these roles have. Some examples of roles will be system administrator, Webservice role and developer. I am also working on restricting view of data by College, to do this we are currently assigning all modules to their College. At the moment every iPaMS user has access to all the data in iPaMS, once we start moving other Colleges into the system we don’t want them to have access to edit other College’s data.

Ben Norcombe (Developer)


Code Improvement

I am currently rewriting the iPaMS module controllers. This builds on the work we did for the previous release of iPaMS to improve the codebase. That work was mainly about reducing the amount of SQL queries per page/action, whereas this time it is about cutting down on code repetition, thus creating reusable functions. The benefits will be that the iPaMS code is easier to maintain as well as more scaleable, setting us up nicely for work to begin on Programmes

Helen Connole (Lead Developer)


CLES Data

This week I have been working on collecting the CLES data needed for archiving into iPaMS. With help from the College we have collected a vast amount of word/pfd documents for their modules ranging from the academic years 08/09- 11/12. On Wednesday Sam, Cat and I met up with Andy, the Taught Programme Support Manager for CLES and discussed iPaMS. It was a very successful meeting where we showed iPaMS in action and discussed the move of CLES data onto the system.  As CLES’ data is all on word/pdf, a move to the database should help them significantly with reporting information and having easier access to their data.

Lauren Welland (Project Support Officer)


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.


Project Support Officer

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Hello everyone, my name is Lauren and I’m the Project Support Officer (PSO) working on CRIATE. I have a few main roles within this project. Firstly I work with the Colleges to help collect their programme and module data and to get it ready to import into iPaMS. Since October I have been working closely with our pilot college Humanities. So far we have collected all their 11/12 module data and I am now currently working on collecting their programme data too. Another aspect of being a PSO is to organise meetings with various members of the Colleges and project team. These meetings are essential for delivering updates regarding CRIATE and to allow further development within the project to go ahead. This role also allows me to be a point of liaison between other members involved in the project and Helen the lead developer. Overall I help with the general organisation of the project, filling up everyone’s outlook with emails and meeting requests and making sure everyone has done their homework on time!

Lauren
Project Support Officer


Welcome to the CRIATE Project!

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exeter uni#

Welcome to the blog for the JISC funded CRIATE Project! This is where our progress can be followed during the project’s life cycle. There will be regular and informative updates from the whole project team, as well as postings of key documents and other related outputs.

By way of explanation, the CRIATE (Course Related Information AT Exeter) project is part of a wider JISC initiative related to making the most of course data.  CRIATE sits alongside 62 other projects in Stage 2 of the programme and is scheduled to run from January 2012 until March 2013.

CRIATE will build upon previous work by the JISC funded iPaMS (Integrated Programme and Module System) project, which developed a generic toolkit to allow the production, management and publication of programme and module information. The CRIATE project extends an existing, internally funded, project, which is developing a production course information database, based on the iPaMS schema, and gathering undergraduate course information from a variety of sources.

The CRIATE project will review the existing manual processes relating to course information, with the aim of introducing online programme and module approval, integrated with the course information database. From a technical perspective, the project will, in addition, review and extend the iPaMS database schema and specifications to address the requirements of Key Information Sets (KIS) and develop a process for the production of XCRI-CAP COOL URI compliant data feeds. This will also require the collation of course descriptions (numbering several hundred) relating to postgraduate, continuing professional development (CPD) and distance learning courses, in addition to undergraduate learning opportunities (with over 2,600 module descriptors currently identified).  As a result, the CRIATE project will deliver additions and amendments to the previously published iPaMS toolkit, made available at SourceForge.

In addition to the technical and process improvements, the CRIATE project is to review and update the governance and policies relating to course information and its supply to third parties. Furthermore, the opportunity will be taken to review requirements for the use of particular subsets of course data, particularly the various short courses on offer from the University of Exeter Business School, with the aim of identifying further uses of XCRI-CAP data.

That’s the project, in summary!  The project team is assembled, the work is under way and we are looking forward to getting to grips with more effective management of course data, and all the challenges that it will bring.  We also look forward to working with the other projects in the programme, and meeting their members at the various programme meetings.

Ian Tilsed
Project Director