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Project Identifier: Version: Contact: Date:

JISC Final Report


Project Information Project Identifier Project Title Project Hashtag Start Date Lead Institution Project Director Project Manager Contact email Partner Institutions Project Web URL Programme Name Programme Manager To be completed by JISC Open Course Data at Loughborough openlboro 12/01/2012 End Date 30/03/2013

Loughborough University Dr Jennifer Nutkins, Academic Registrar Martin Hamilton, Head of Internet Services m.t.hamilton@lboro.ac.uk N/A http://open.lboro.ac.uk Course Data: making the most of course information Stage 2 Ruth Drysdale, eLearning Team Innovation

Document Information Author(s) Project Role(s) Date Martin Hamilton Project Manager March 2013 Filename Loughborough Open Course Data Phase 2 Final Report.doc

URL Access

http://open.lboro.ac.uk/open-course-data-at-loughboroughphase-2-final-project-report/ This report is for general dissemination Document History

Version 1.0 1.1

Date 23.01.2013 06.03.2013 Initial revision

Comments Updated following critical friend feedback

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Document title: JISC Final Report Template Last updated : Feb 2011 - v11.0

Project Identifier: Version: 1.1 Contact: Martin Hamilton Date: Feb 2013

Table of Contents

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ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ............................................................................................... 3 PROJECT SUMMARY.................................................................................................... 3 MAIN BODY OF REPORT .............................................................................................. 3 3.1 PROJECT OUTPUTS AND OUTCOMES ....................................................................................... 3 3.2 HOW DID YOU GO ABOUT ACHIEVING YOUR OUTPUTS / OUTCOMES? ............................................. 4 3.2.1 Overall Approach to Project Management ............................................................. 4 3.2.2 Process Mapping Exercise ....................................................................................... 5 3.2.3 Developing the Ideal Process Map .......................................................................... 7 3.2.4 Benefits of Unified Course Information ................................................................... 8 3.2.5 User Experience for Content Contributors .............................................................. 9 3.2.6 Generation of XCRI-CAP Feed from CMS Data ...................................................... 10 3.2.7 Autodiscovery via Cool URIs ............................................................................... 11 3.2.8 Validity Checking with the XCRI-CAP Validator ..................................................... 12 3.2.9 Inclusion in the XCRI-CAP Aggregator ................................................................... 12 3.3 WHAT DID YOU LEARN? ..................................................................................................... 13 3.4 IMMEDIATE IMPACT .......................................................................................................... 13 3.5 FUTURE IMPACT ............................................................................................................... 14

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CONCLUSIONS .......................................................................................................... 14 RECOMMENDATIONS................................................................................................ 14 5.1 5.2 5.3 STRUCTURED DATA ........................................................................................................... 14 MODULE AND PROGRAMME APPROVALS ............................................................................... 15 VARIANT FIELDS ................................................................................................................ 15

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IMPLICATIONS FOR THE FUTURE ............................................................................... 15 REFERENCES ............................................................................................................. 15

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Project Identifier: Version: 1.1 Contact: Martin Hamilton Date: Feb 2013

Acknowledgements

We extend our appreciation to everyone who has been involved in the project. Particular thanks are due to Chris Carpenter and Greg Milsted for their initial work mapping XCRI-CAP fields to data held centrally by Loughborough University, Dharmisha Nakeshri for her work on mapping the print and online prospectus processes, and Jonathan Walters for leading on the Content Management System strand of the project and working with Terminal Four to implement this. We are also indebted to Terminal Four for their assistance with the project.

2 Project Summary
This is the final report from the Open Course Data project at Loughborough University. We have been funded by JISC to develop a machine readable version of our online prospectus. In parallel we wanted to explore improving the way that the prospectus is developed. The reader can find out more about the project at http://open.lboro.ac.uk. This project implemented the system, service, process and policy changes at Loughborough University that were needed in order to produce an XCRI-CAP feed of course marketing information. It also identified a number of benefits to the institution, many of which will also be of interest to the larger community and perhaps also relevant to related initiatives such as the HEFCE Key Information Sets and the wider Open Data agenda. The project documented the process of stakeholder engagement and technical development via periodic blog posts. Project outputs were released under appropriate licenses, i.e. Creative Commons version attribution license (CC-BY 2.0) for reports and documentation, GNU General Public License (GPL v3) for code (Site Manager CMS formatter script), and Open Government License (OGL) for the course data feed itself. The project engaged with JISC and the wider community through the project blog and faceto-face/online programme events. Loughborough is an active participant in a number of relevant communities, e.g. AUA, UCISA and CASE, and is actively exploring opportunities to promote this work.

3 Main Body of Report


[Please note that we will be adapting this part of the project report and turning it into a case study to be featured on the open.lboro.ac.uk site.]

3.1 Project Outputs and Outcomes


Output / Outcome Type (e.g. report, publication, software, knowledge built) Report Brief Description

Phase 2 implementation plan, document submitted to JISC: loughborough-xcri-phase2-plan-final.docx Progress reports:

Report
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Report

http://open.lboro.ac.uk/open-course-data-project/ Interim, final and closure reports: May 2012: http://open.lboro.ac.uk/open-course-data-may2012-interim-report-to-jisc/ November 2012: http://open.lboro.ac.uk/ocd-nov2012/

Presentations

Course Data Technical Day, June 2012: http://open.lboro.ac.uk/presentation-at-open-course-datatechnical-day-june-2012/ Video for Programme Meeting January 2013: http://open.lboro.ac.uk/ocd-video/

Knowledge built

XCRI-CAP data feed Software

Improved understanding of location of core data and information flows; potential vehicles for improving efficiency and reducing duplication; opportunities presented by in-house and third party software and services As described above Open Source software (Terminal Four Site Manager output formatter) to produce an XCRI-CAP feed based on the Loughborough course data. This is attached as an Appendix and is also available via the project blog as: http://open.lboro.ac.uk/open-course-data-terminal-four-sitemanager-cms-formatter-for-xcri-cap-generation/ We have also provided a copy of our specification to Terminal Four for the development of the XCRI-CAP output formatter: http://open.lboro.ac.uk/open-course-data-centralised-xcri-capcourse-information-using-terminal-four-site-manager/

3.2 How did you go about achieving your outputs / outcomes? 3.2.1 Overall Approach to Project Management
We held regular project team meetings throughout the course of the project: January 2012, March 2012, April 2012, June 2012, September 2012, November 2012, December 2012, February 2013, March 2013. The project team reported back to the Universitys Student Information Steering Group via Student Administration Management Team. Further stakeholder engagement took place on a needs basis, e.g. School Operations Managers received a presentation on the project in November 2012.

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A project plan was maintained in Microsoft Project, of which an excerpt is shown below:

3.2.2 Process Mapping Exercise


Even before obtaining the JISC funding we had recognised that it would be advantageous to bring our online and print prospectus management together as a single process. We mapped out the print and online prospectus business processes, as shown in the swim lane diagrams below:

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The online and print versions of the prospectus had historically been treated as largely separate activities. We wanted to see if we could change that, improve our efficiency and effectiveness, and create opportunities to re-use course information.

3.2.3 Developing the Ideal Process Map


We mapped out an ideal process that brought the print and online prospectus information together using our Web Content Management System, Site Manager from Terminal Four. This process is shown in the diagram below:

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3.2.4 Benefits of Unified Course Information


Adopting this new process gave us a single canonical data source for both the print and online version of the prospectus. We also had a range of formatting options via the Content Management System. This let us produce a CSV feed suitable for embedding in mobile apps, in addition to the XCRI-CAP feed now being produced for JISC. The CSVfeed is used in the Universitys soon to be released mobile prospectus app, some screenshots from which are shown below:

From a technical perspective, we were particularly pleased that our app was able to re-use the information from the Content Management System that we use in the prospectus website and the printed version. For example, consider the MChem course details:

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Here is the same course as displayed in the online prospectus:

3.2.5 User Experience for Content Contributors


Here is the relevant page for managing this courses information in Site Manager:

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This is quite a long page, with an embedded form containing the various fields used in the course description. The screenshot below shows the MChem entry requirements:

The reader may note how the entry requirements are broken down into individual entries on the form - this gives us a lot of flexibility in terms of how the information is presented. Once the change has been committed and approved in the Content Management System workflow system, it will be automatically published. Behind the scenes the published prospectus material is formatted by the Content Management System for presentation as a web page. The length of the form required to capture all of the possible course variants has given us some cause for concern, and we are discussing possible approaches to improve usability with Terminal Four and the University of Bristol, another Site Manager user. Bristol have used Terminal Fours Application Programming Interface (API) to construct a custom course data entry form.

3.2.6 Generation of XCRI-CAP Feed from CMS Data


A machine readable version of the Site Manager CMS course information is created automatically using the XCRI-CAP standard for describing course information. Below is an excerpt of the actual XCRI-CAP data feed, which should give the reader an idea of what to expect. If this was a web page, we might be able to make a guess about which information goes where - XCRI-CAP removes this ambiguity, and the resulting data feed can be processed using hundreds of software packages that understand the industry standard XML data format.

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An excerpt of the Site Manager output formatter script to create the XCRI-CAP feed is shown below:

3.2.7 Autodiscovery via Cool URIs


Following JISC guidance on best practice, the XCRI-CAP feed has been made available via the following URLs to assist with auto-discovery of the feed. The feed itself is updated automatically on any prospectus changes and reflects the live prospectus data:

http://data.lboro.ac.uk/courses.xml http://lboro.ac.uk/data/courses.xml http://lboro.ac.uk/courses.xml

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3.2.8 Validity Checking with the XCRI-CAP Validator


As part of developing the XCRI-CAP formatter, we were delighted to be able to use the JISC funded XCRI-CAP online validator. Sample validation results are shown below:

3.2.9 Inclusion in the XCRI-CAP Aggregator


The Loughborough feed has been included in the JISC funded XCRI-CAP Aggregator and made public, as shown below:

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Sample XCRI-CAP Aggregator search results against the Loughborough data feed are shown below:

3.3 What did you learn?


The project has brought together a team including domain experts from Academic Registry, Marketing and Communications and IT Services, with stakeholder engagement from the Academic Registrar, Head of Marketing and the Head of Student Information Systems. We have also been delighted by the support for transformational change provided by JISC, and the opportunity to share our experiences with other members of the community. We cover specific findings and recommendations in the sections which follow.

3.4 Immediate Impact


We feel that the new process for prospectus management is a huge improvement on our old approach. This is specifically because it:

creates a single canonical source of course information that can be re-used and even embedded in School and Department websites, replaces labour intensive and often paper based processes (freeing up staff time for more worthwhile activities), gives us the opportunity to make time sensitive changes to the prospectus content which will be reflected immediately, and

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through doing so, reduces the likelihood of incorrect or out-of-date information being presented to prospective students

3.5 Future Impact


We are actively monitoring efficiency savings through a Value for Money programme of projects, which includes the Open Course Data initiative. We will conduct a post-project review after the new process and system have been in dayto-day use for a period of time, to assess the success of the new approach. We have already started to look at whether a similar approach can be useful in other areas, and moved to a CMS based strategy for managing University committee papers. A related project is looking into the feasibility of using the CMS to manage the programme review and approval process.

Conclusions

By moving course data and associated workflow into the central Content Management System database, we were able make significant improvements in terms of reduction of duplication of course information, and also improve the efficiency of its management. Content held within the CMS may be re-used elsewhere on the Loughborough website. This is highly desirable as a means of preventing errors from creeping in as content is updated centrally but not in Schools and Departments, or vice versa.

Recommendations

Our project identified the following key areas:

5.1 Structured Data


The marketing information held in the Site Manager CMS prior to the start of the project was not sufficiently structured to facilitate the production of the XCRI-CAP feed, e.g. through use of composite free text fields such as describing a course as BSc (Hons) DPS 4 yrs full-time sandwich and UCAS code: NN34 BSc/FinMg4. We had anticipated that the project would explore two approaches: enhancing the CMS templates to break out the various XCRI-CAP elements where these had been present in composite fields; and using a widget approach to embed data from Loughboroughs inhouse student information system (LUSI) within the web pages generated by the CMS. After we started to trial the CMS based approach, it quickly became clear that this was the preferred option, and we did not pursue the widget based approach. We were also discouraged on this front by the clunky Key Information Set (KIS) widgets.

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In our phase 1 project we had noted that some of the data we wished to represent via XCRICAP had complexity beyond the free text fields provided in the XCRI-CAP schema, e.g. entry requirements and fees, and we have provided feedback to JISC on this aspect which we hope will be helpful with the future development of the XCRI-CAP standard.

5.2 Module and Programme approvals


There are only loose links between the course information held within LUSI (such as module objectives) and within the CMS, but there are clear reasons to improve this situation particularly around extending the projects approach to also cover the process for module and programme approvals. A separate project is currently being chartered to devise a way forward on this front.

5.3 Variant fields


We would prefer to present a view of the overall programme (such as Accounting and Management), with the option to drill down to individual course variants such as four year sandwich course option, foundation year option and so on. The XCRI-CAP standard is not conducive to such an approach, and each programme variant is a first class object rather than facets of a common course. We have provided feedback to JISC and the XCRI-CAP developers on this issue, which we know from programme discussions is also a problem for other institutions.

Implications for the future


For the JISC project we explicitly set out to look at the Undergraduate Prospectus, but we are also starting to look at other areas such as Programme approvals and the Postgraduate Prospectus. We have shared our Site Manager CMS formatter script via the project website, which other Terminal Four users may find helpful to accelerate their work. In addition to the internal and external dissemination activities described in this report, a plenary talk proposal has been submitted for this years Institutional Web Management Workshop. We believe that the new approach to course information management is now well embedded in institutional processes and systems, however the project team will continue to meet periodically to review progress. Loughborough as an institution is now much better placed to address the wider agenda around Open Data.

References

XCRI knowledge base - http://www.xcri.co.uk JISC Making the Most of Course Data Programme http://www.jisc.ac.uk/whatwedo/programmes/elearning/coursedata.aspx

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