Course Data Project


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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