Managing Course Information - City of Bristol College Abstract
Seeing the Details
Clear information about provision leads to informed learner choices, benefiting retention and achievement. It will also aid the college in finding new markets.
The cross-college project team includes administrators, academic and business unit managers, who discussed issues, shared information and instigated changes. Systems and processes were analysed using Archimate software. There were immediate gains e.g. identifying that there could be 2 conflicting sources of information for guided learning hours in some courses.
The diagram below shows the processes for advertising courses in March 2012. These were complex, involving different roles and so were likely to be fallible. Each faculty inputted its own information independently.
The production of the XCRI CAP code has been delayed by competing demands from other projects, particularly the launch of the new website, which overran by 6 months. Currently data definitions have been mapped and training has been undertaken by 2 of the ICT staff. The document framework has been completed and issues to be addressed have been identified. The feed should be completed by 28th February 2013. Exchange of data with partner HEIs has been reduced now the college has its own numbers and simplified by the purchase of the HE Assessment module. However, it is now apparent that courses which are run in partnership need clear processes to check that marketing information is valid and consistent across both the college and university websites, especially since this information will appear in comparison websites.
A flexible response to changing demands and circumstances requires a firm grasp of data so this project has assisted City of Bristol College in responding pro-actively to changing external forces. There has been a wide-ranging overhaul of processes and systems associated with course advertising and learner monitoring, resulting in: • more robust data • improved sharing of data with partner universities and government agencies • improved internal access to data “XCRI CAP is a dream that can’t be achieved until the ‘bottom line’ is accurate.” (College manager). The XCRI CAP filter will take information directly from the college website so there has been a focus on the systems providing data to the website, making it accurate and appropriate to the needs of potential users.
Initial research demonstrated poor visibility of courses in external search engines because: • The college website at that time had some dynamic urls. • Aggregator sites such as nextsteps (now called National Careers Service) required data in formats, such as csv files, that were inappropriate for the information the college wished to send. • College staff were recording their courses inaccurately in the system.
Faculty Programe Specification/validation document
Make a course
Review course information
Input course information
Keywords for Website
Review course information
Review course info with HEI
LIM Curriculum Planner Create course record
We have moved from a foggy view.... .... not very sure what XCRI CAP could do for us, or whether we needed to change our systems..
ICT Curriculum Publisher Course record
Background This project fits into the HESA HE Landscape programme which is aiming “to achieve a more efficient and effective system of governance” with one of the benefits being that “coherent and consistent information helps learners navigate an increasingly diverse landscape.” Response to national initiatives such as KIS (Key Information Sets) and HEAR (Higher Education Academic Records), required a closer link between systems for managing learner- related and course-related data. Other college initiatives include the Gateway project to improve access, involving the redesign of the college website, which was fundamental to the XCRI CAP project. The college has its own HE numbers and also works with a range of HEIs, operating three forms of academic partnership at HE level: • Franchised courses, allocating HEI numbers to City of Bristol College. • Federation courses in which City of Bristol College operates as a campus as one of a number of partner colleges to a HEI. • Courses which are validated by a HEI in which the student numbers are directly contracted to City of Bristol College. Data exchange can be complex, but it is vital that course information is valid and accurate across the partnerships. Carrying out the XCRI CAP Self Assessment Review demonstrated that systems were robust but there were issues in:
Marketing Prescribed Courses March 2012 College Website
Postcards, Adverts, fliers
Additional needs were: • To improve advertising of single modules (for Continuous Professional Development), • To facilitate exchange of learner related information with partner HEIs.
More attention should have been paid at the start to internal stakeholder engagement in order to achieve ‘buy-in’ and greater collaboration. Pressure on IT specialist staff, initially identified as a risk, has hindered progress and would affect similar future projects. Project front-loading meant initial milestones were not achieved.
Benefits ..to clearly bearing fruit.... ... with restructured systems, enhanced course advertising opportunities and robust data January 2013
Results Data should now be accurate down to module level and fit for the public domain. This has been facilitated by the purchase of a HE assessment module. The HE curriculum course file system for L4+ validated courses has been remodelled so is now more accurate in feeding through course data and there is consistency in course titles. The management of HE courses has been restructured, centralising HE administration and streamlining many of its course-related business processes where these are not determined by a validating University. Much work has gone into the development of a new college website as the ‘single point of truth’, forming a reliable source for the XCRI CAP. The changes have greatly improved the visibility of the ‘hard to find’ courses in external web searches.
As part of this project the processes were reviewed and a new ‘HE user’, able to create/amend courses, will be created, with access across faculties. Previously users had access just to their own faculty: now courses will be filtered by level across faculties. HE administrators will be able to update registers etc. Moving the ‘ownership’ to the HE unit means the data can be updated consistently for all HE courses whereas it was previously subject to internal faculty rules. There will also be a structural change in the management of HE teaching staff resulting in further centralisation of the inputting of information to Curriculum Planner. The diagram below shows how these changes have resulted in a more streamlined process for advertising courses.
Phase 2 of the implementation anticipates that in 2013 the L4+ non prescribed course curriculum will be remodelled along the lines of the changes already completed for prescribed courses which will improve the accuracy and consistency of that data. As with many institutions, systems and processes have developed over time and have been associated with specialist knowledge. One of the outcomes of the project will be the documentation of processes, which will be valuable to new staff coming into existing roles as well as reducing the ‘data silos’.
“This exercise has been so useful for risk-assessing the processes that produce our public-facing information” (College Manager). Improved systems and processes have resulted in more robust data, down to module level, meeting the needs of learners, partner HEIs and govt. agencies. The new website has improved the visibility of courses, including those previously ‘hard to find’. Improved cross-college understanding of the systems used in managing learner and course data facilitates training of new staff and cover for absences. In future these systems and processes could be used to extend the use of the XCRI CAP feed to other courses: this may be useful as the KIS is being extended to FE courses.
Issues Still to be Addressed Market a course
HEACP Keywords for Website Programe Specification/validation document
Input course information
Enter course on UCAS
LIM Create course record
Further Information Course record
www.cityofbristol.ac.uk Project website: http://managecourseinfo.cityofbristol.ac.uk:3000/Pages/Home.aspx Project Coordinator: firstname.lastname@example.org
ICT Curriculum Publisher 2
• Coding and validation of the XCRI CAP feed. • Finalising the OpenGov licence for the feed. • Gaining acceptance of the XCRI CAP feed from key potential users such as UCAS and the National Careers Service.
• Integrating data between systems, • Collating additional data to meet the needs of KIS and HEAR, • Providing course information at module level, • Establishing a single ‘point of truth’ for course advertising information.
Postcards, Adverts, fliers
City of Bristol College is grateful for the funding and support of Jisc particularly the opportunity to network with other colleges. Thanks to all in the project team, college staff and other Jisc CourseData teams who gave enthusiastic support.