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Nov 24

Open Course Data – Centralised XCRI-CAP Course Information using Terminal Four Site Manager

Centralised XCRI-CAP Course Information using Terminal Four Site Manager

 

This specification was developed for Terminal Four, for their work on integrating XCRI-CAP generation with our online prospectus

 

Overview

The University is looking at using Site Manager to generate a course marketing information feed using the XCRI-CAP standard.

As part of this work, the University is keen to explore how Site Manager can be used as a centralised location for course information that can be used to power both the online prospectuses but also be leveraged to produce print prospectuses and other material.

The current process for producing print and web prospectuses is labour-intensive and it is hoped that by using Site Manager to manage the process of updating course information by academic departments and central services, we can see significant time-savings.

For the purposes of this project, the Undergraduate Prospectus (www.lboro.ac.uk/study/undergraduate) will be the focus, but the aspiration will be to extend this to the management and production of the Postgraduate Prospectus in the longer term.

As the current online Prospectus is updated throughout the year, this can be considered to be the most up-to-date version of the University’s course marketing information so would be what the subsequent year’s content would be based on.

Current process

The process of updating course information for inclusion in online and offline prospectuses involves input from academic departments and two central services – Marketing and Academic Registry.

The process begins with the Marketing department manually extracting information from the current web prospectus and putting it into a ‘form’ within Microsoft Word documents.

These documents include general academic department information and information for each course within each department. The documents are then sent to contacts in academic departments, who are asked to check the documents, make any amendments that are required and send them back to Marketing.

Entry requirements are not included in these documents. Academic Registry send academic departments the previous years’ entry requirements (again in Word documents) and these are checked and updated if necessary then sent back to Academic Registry.

The general information and course information received back from Academic departments is extracted from the forms, checked and edited by Marketing and send over to our designers and laid out in the print prospectus using Adobe In Design.

Entry requirements are also sent over to the designers and the print prospectus goes through several drafts before being signed off. Once signed off and sent to print, a final PDF is sent back to the web team who extract the content from it and add it to the latest online prospectus via Site Manager.

 

Proposed process

It is suggested that the process be significantly altered to introducing Site Manager much earlier and using it to replace the sending of Microsoft Word documents around by email.

  1. A copy of the current online Prospectus course content is created in Site Manager.
  2. Academic departments are sent a link to a web-based system that will allow them to load their department and course information into forms.
  3. Departments make updates to their course and department information and when they’re happy submit it for approval. They will also have the option to ‘Save as draft’, before final submission.
  4. Academic Registry check and update entry requirements using the same web-based system.
  5. Marketing notified when information updated – check and approve/reject content.
  6. Content then approved for use in online prospectus.
  7. Option to export to In Design format for use in creation of print prospectus.
  8. CSV export for mobile apps.
  9. XML export for XCRI-CAP feed.

This is a suggested process based on Loughborough University’s knowledge of Site Manager’s functionality. It may be that Terminal Four can suggest changes or additions to this process to make it more efficient.

 

Workflow

It’s likely that updated course information will need to be checked by various people in department before being submitted to Marketing for final approval. We would like to explore how workflows could be used to manage this process. We’re also keen to investigate to what extent departments can define their own workflows.

 

Groundwork

During the development of the latest Undergraduate Prospectus within Site Manager, some changes were made to the course content templates. This information separated out many of the combined data fields and with assistance from Terminal Four, allowed us to generate csv files for both department and course information. These files have been made available for use in the development of an undergraduate course mobile app, which should be launched soon.

The changes to the course content template has meant that information is containing in more distinct, structured fields as opposed to the previous version that had entry requirements containing in an html table within an html field.

 

Considerations

A major consideration is the requirement to maintain multiple versions of the prospectus. When the 2013 version was launched earlier this year, we kept the 2012 version but moved it into an ‘archived’ section within the 2013 site. We will need to keep this arrangement for forthcoming versions so we will want to consider how this is controlled within the Site Manager environment.

Another consideration is the issue of courses that are no longer offered or withdrawn. At the moment sections and content items can be deleted and marked as Inactive. These inactive items can then be deleted forever. Ideally, we’d want to be able to mark withdrawn courses as ‘inactive’ but keep them within Site Manager to maintain a full audit trail.

 

Overview of requirements

In summary we want Terminal Four to:

  • Assist the University in using Site Manager to generate a course marketing information feed to XCRI-CAP standard.
  • Develop an approach within Site Manager by which academic departments and central services can maintain course information that can then be used to produce online prospectuses.
  • Explore the output options for course content, particularly in terms of generating print versions of the University prospectus.

 

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