How do you model what your course data is used for and when, if there are multiple, over-lapping deadlines over the course of several years just for one cohort of students?
This is the challenge we faced when collecting this information to inform the design of a new system to hold programme data centrally.
During stage 1, programme approvals and the programme- and unit-level information created at this stage were identified as key areas for improvement. Programme approval and review processes currently rely on the transfer of Word documents between academic departments and professional services, leaving information that could be usefully shared with prospective students trapped in an internal paper-based system.
JISC funding is also helping us to co-ordinate a collection of related course data projects, for example the KIS and the HEAR, which require information that is not consistently collected in a re-usable, electronic format.
A group was set up to examine the potential for changing the relevant systems and processes. We realised that while significant change was possible and desirable, we did not have the luxury of a ‘blank canvas’. There are external key dates to work around, for example UCAS deadlines, and changes to internal deadlines should be co-ordinated to ensure that there are no unexpected knock-on effects.
During stage 1 I mapped key processes (e.g. reviews of module content, and the prospectus) using MS Visio. However, these various linear maps did not clearly show the order in which course information must be gathered to recruit, admit and progress a particular cohort of students.
A participant in our meetings suggested that the process could be represented as concentric circles, and I worked with this idea to create a series of course data ‘spirals’, which referenced the experiences of different categories of students (UG full-time; UG part-time; PGT and so on) in terms of the deadlines by which course information is needed to move the process forward. An example of my model, for UG FT students, is displayed below.