Course Data Project

Drupal site live

22 January, 2013 by Project Team

The Courtauld is pleased to announce that its new Degree Programmes website is now live.

We have migrated all of the data currently on our Dreaweaver site to the new Drupal system, so to the regular user there will be no perceptible change in service. All pages have a Drupal equivalent, and redirects have been established so that any bookmarks or published links etc. will remain valid.

Our XCRI-CAP course data feed is now available to use licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License at this uri:

There has been some excitement in the JISC community (…!) about the module that we’ve developed as part of the project – University College Falmouth are already using it for their website, and the University of Cambridge are beginning to investigate usage – so hopefully it will have some impact on future admissions. Other projects have developed tools to ‘read’ the course data and publish it on Facebook, Moodle, and Blackboard, while others have developed comparison sites. I’ve been working closely with Plymouth College of Art, Arts University College Bournemouth, and Falmouth on one such site just for arts-based colleges which will launch at the end of the month.

All of this – we hope – will give the Courtauld and its course presentations greater visibility.

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November Report synthesis

18 December, 2012 by Project Team

Jisc have put together a synthesis report titled ‘Feast or famine: progress in implementing standardised course data feeds’ that brings together information from all of the stage 2 institutions in the Course Data Project.

The Courtauld project is referenced several times:

Course Information Systems

The Courtauld Institute of Art has consolidated data from a number of different sources into a Drupal content management system and has released a piece of open source software that permits the creation of an XCRI-CAP compatible feed from Drupal CMS. A number of institutions in the programme, particularly University College Falmouth, are interested in using this product.

Course information in partnership

In a slightly different form of partnership, the Courtauld Institute of Art and Plymouth College of Art are working with a range of partners in the GuildHE Consortium for Research Excellence Support and Training (CREST) to create a site to serve as a basis from which a range of institutions can develop their own Mahara system to profile information about staff. Although the consortium has moved away from the original idea of a single shared system, they are still focused on sharing information between differing institutions through interoperable standards adopted within Mahara and also considering the development of a common vocabulary for creative courses.

Aggregators and Licensing

Despite the existing interest, there is still concern from many institutions about the lack of firm commitment from some of the most significant players to adopting the XCRI-CAP standard.

‘The value of producing ‘XCRIfied’ data may run into a wall if aggregators don’t ask for XCRIfied data’ (University of Bradford).

‘The expectation that demand will emerge based on the supply of data is not enough for sustained commitment from our institution. We hope that a commitment from data harvesting communities will be assured before the close of the project.‘ (The Courtauld Institute of Art)

Value of the JISC community

Some connections made as a result of previous Jisc work have grown and strengthened and the institutions involved speak very positively about the levels of trust that have been established by working together in this way. Other institutions are being involved in Jisc networks for the first time and it seems as though small and specialist institutions in particular are developing their own capabilities in ways that would not have been possible without access to these expert communities: ‘The Courtauld, as a small and specialist college, has benefitted enormously from the opportunity to meet with other colleges to share ideas and resources. Our understanding and engagement with the Course Data Programme has developed significantly as a result of these interactions, and we have profited from pooled knowledge and skillsets.’ (The Courtauld Institute of Art)

Institutions are saving time and money by finding that others have already created solutions they can take away and use rather than reinventing the wheel: ‘We have identified a Drupal XCRI-CAP module which has been developed by Courtauld Institute of Art in conjunction with this funding stream. We are intending to utilise this module instead of creating our own technical solution as we hope it will complement our Drupal CCMS.’ (University College Falmouth)

‘One of the most stimulating consequences of taking part in the Jisc scheme has been the interaction it has encouraged between institutions.’ (The Courtauld Institute of Art)

A number of institutions involved in delivering creative arts courses (including Arts University College at Bournemouth, the Courtauld Institute of Art and Plymouth College of Art) have formed a Creative Assembly that now has a remit beyond the life of this programme including:

  1. To offer opportunities for collaborative training.
  2. To ensure that art, design, media and performance courses are appropriately referenced within aggregators, and meet the specific requirements of creative courses.
  3. To consider the feasibility of implementing a common vocabulary for creative courses.

‘To have this network as a result of this project is a real legacy in itself, and I’m sure that others will agree that other more tangible benefits will spring from this in the future.’ (Plymouth College of Art)

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XCRI-CAP module release

24 September, 2012 by Project Team

We’ve been working closely with our Drupal contractors Infomagnet and the Course Data group to fine tune our XCRI-CAP module. It’s now producing a validated feed for all of our course presentations.

The software, built in Drupal open-source CMS, is a downloadable Feature which enables users to create a catalogue of course presentations. Once you’ve downloaded and enabled the Feature on your Drupal install it will create the following taxonomies: Provider, Course, Qualification and Venue. Users can then add terms for each of the taxonomies, then pull them together in to a complete Course Presentation using the Content Type included.

We’re incredibly pleased with the work that Infomagnet have done and hope that the software will be of benefit to other users. We’ve already invited our colleagues at the University of Kent and Blackpool and the Fylde College who are working on similar issues to review and feed back on the work.

The feature can be downloaded from the Drupal website here:

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First try with the validator!

21 September, 2012 by Project Team

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Change Management workshop

15 August, 2012 by Project Team

We went along to the JISC Infonet ‘Change Management’ workshop yesterday. Thanks to John Burke and Janette Hillicks for organising an informative and stimulating workshop which made us think a great deal about the broader implications for implementing the Course Data Project within our institute.

John ran through theories of change, the drivers for doing so, and ways of successfully implementing such processes. Here’s a summary:

Types of Change

  1. Developmental – User changes through time for day-to-day utility. Process review
  2. Transitional – Planned change. Implemented and altered behavioural patterns.
  3. Transformational – Fundamental change of practices
Drivers for Change
  • Legislation
  • Finance
  • Economica
  • Technological
  • Expectations
  • Competition
  • Social
  • Efficiency

Leadership Action Steps

  • Establish sense of urgency
  • Form a powerful, guiding coalition
  • Create a vision
  • Communicate the vision
  • Empower others to act
  • Plan and create short-term wins
  • Consolidate improvements
  • Institutionalise the new approach

We then had the change to test out these theories with a simulation. Best. Fun. Ever.

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Development Talk

6 July, 2012 by Project Team

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10 June, 2012 by Project Team

We’ve been working with Infomagnet to build a Drupal CMS for the Degree Programmes section of the website. Aligning the XCRI-CAP framework with broader University strategies has been an interesting process. At The Courtauld we need an easy-to-use GUI interface that will allow our registry staff and website manager to add course data in a way which will populate both the existing public-facing website and an XCRI-CAP XML feed. Over the course of the project we’ve realised that there is a strong need to improve the way we describe and market our course information – a big part of being the type of language we use to present ourselves.

XCRI-CAP has its own vocabulary which has been developed to broadly encompass all learning opportunities. Having a standardised language set has a great number of advantages: it’ll be easier to cross-reference, demands a high-level of accuracy, and promotes under-represented learning opportunities. However, we’ve come to realise (along with other members of the XCRI Creative Assembly) that this vocabulary could potentially be quite limiting in its scope. There’s a danger that this very general mode of defining a course opportunity could poorly or even mis-represent the quirky and unique characteristics of our Institute. Looking at our printed prospectus under the heading ‘Why The Courtauld?’ the following elements are listed: Vibrant International Reputation, Central London Location, Happy Students, Career Prospects, Friendly and Accessible Learning, Small Student Body, Student Life, World-Class Teaching, and Invaluable Resources. Trying to map these fields against the XCRI-CAP data definitions is relatively straightforward – basic data is of course covered by elements such as ‘Provider’, ‘Course’ and ‘Presentation’, but what about aspects of teaching and learning that aren’t so easily quantifiable? Also, most free-text fields are limited to 140 characters – that’s not a lot of room for manoeuvre. For instance, XCRI-CAP doesn’t accommodate information about resources – The Courtauld is particularly unique in the richness of its resources, and this is one of our greatest selling points. In a compare-the-meetkat style line up, we might not look very appealing. This is something we need to address. The general consensus about this among the JISC XCRI group  seems to be that potential applicants will be able to look up further information from our own website, but I wonder how likely this would be? First impressions make a great deal of impact, and the data pulled from the XML feed could potentially be all they learn about The Courtauld before moving on to another provider.

Things to think about:  What can we do to expand upon XCRI-CAP 1.2? Would it be possible to add additional fields to the XCRI feed? How would aggregators treat such data?

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Creative Assembly

2 May, 2012 by Project Team

We were graciously hosted by The Arts University College at Bournemouth last week for the inaugural meeting of the XCRI Creative Assembly. Along with Falmouth University College, a sadly absent Plymouth College of Art and Norwich University College of the Arts, we discussed how XCRI-CAP could be used within a creative context.

We agreed on a remit for the assembly:

  • To form a group gf creative arts institutions to share practice during the XCRI project
  • To offer opportunities for collaborative training
  • To hold meetings (whether online or face to face) to discuss progress and issues in relation to creative courses
  • To ensure that art, design, media and performance courses are appropriately referenced within aggregators, and meet the specific requirements of creative courses.
  • To consider the feasibility of implementing a common vocabulary for creative courses
  • To feedback to JISC any issues pertaining to the content and use of the XCRI feed by creative courses
  • To disseminate information produced by the Creative Assembly to the wider community and particularly to institutions with creative courses who will take part in the project from September 2012

Each college gave a short presentation on the progress of their project. For me, what was most interesting was that we had all come to the same conclusion by independent means: XCRI-CAP is a good starting point, but it’s not enough alone. The XCRI-CAP feed itself is, frankly, quite bland by itself and doesn’t include anything other than the most utilitarian of data. This is particularly troubling for Creative courses, where the environment, campus and teaching facilities are important to prospective students. For the moment we’ve decided to compliment the XCRI-CAP feed with an improved set of data on our external website. But maybe there will be more developments – it could be useful to come up with a shared ‘creative language’ and lengthen the XCRI data definitions with our own terms.

Download: Courtauld Course Data presentation

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Courtauld CAP presentation

1 May, 2012 by Project Team

Presentation Teaser

Gearing up for the first meeting of the XCRI Creative Assembly on Monday 30th April 2012, hosted by The Arts University College at Bournemouth

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KIS and XCRI-CAP data specification

20 April, 2012 by Project Team

The KIS data for our Undergraduate courses must be submitted to HEFCE by 22/08/2012. Some of this data overlaps with the XCRI-CAP specification, but on the whole the data sets follow different trajectories. However, one area which might impact the schedule for our XCRI project is that we must also submit stable URLs for several elements of the KIS data. Institutions must ensure that URLs are active and link to the correct page for the duration of the 2012/13 academic year. Once the submission has been made, the URL must not change.

As part of the XCRI-CAP project we were intending to make significant amendments to the structure of our data as presented on the public website, . We weren’t intending to finalise these changes until the Summer of 2012, but as this would impact on the KIS submission we’re going to have to move it up ahead of schedule.

The full list of URLs that need to be specified as part of the KIS can be found in this document. For us, the fields of ACCURL, ACCOMURL, ASSURL, CRSEURL, EMPLOYURL, LTURL and SUPPORTURL are all likely to be altered by the XCRI project.

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