APS Updates

Archive for September 2012

Impact assessment in Student Lifecycle Relationship Management

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I’ve been thinking about how to measure the impact of SLRM projects as part of some synthesis work that I’m doing as a Critical Friend for JISC’s Relationship Management Programme, Student Progression, Retention and Non-completion strand.

I’ve proposed 6 characteristics that might be useful to evaluate in respect of these projects:

  • Capacity for action by the learner/service user: communication methods, choice, personalisation, activities/actions possible, appropriate technologies and usability
  • Clarity of service definition: Identification of actors, process knowledge and understanding, service description, quality of technical service delivery
  • Extent of service control: measurement, feedback, comparison versus target levels, understanding of intervention points, quality control
  • Sustainability of tools/services: robustness, continuous improvement, resourcing, policy impact
  • Prevalence in organisation: ad hoc, pilot, in individual department(s), institution-wide, policy impact
  • Integration: data sharing across systems, common or single centralised systems, availability to staff through appropriate technology, breaking down silos.

These were developed as a result of reviewing the 8 SLRM projects in the current Strand 2 of the Programme, all of which have used Service Design as the approach. This is all about touch points and use of technology to deliver ‘capacities for action by the learner/student/customer/client’.

I also identified 2 axes that might determine the RM that will be described by the 6 characteristics:

  • Coverage of learner/student groups: all, differentiated by subject, level, special circumstances
  • Coverage of lifecycle: all or particular part(s)

I initially thought that it would be useful to have simple numerical ratings against each of the 6 characteristics; something like ‘0’ = not done; ‘1’ = Basic; ‘2’ = Developing; ‘3’ = Strategic. This would be a bit like the BCE maturity model, but I rather think my ratings here are a house of cards, so I’ve scrapped that as not a useful idea at this stage. There’s no accurate basis for the ratings.

I then thought maybe we could do an evaluation and impact assessment framework based on “What can we learn?” and “What was the impact?” for each characteristic. If we assessed these, then we could look for commonalities across each project and come up with some useful synthesis.

Each of these characteristics could have a quality indicator, such as ‘increase’, ‘better’, ‘more’ attached to it. However, quantitative assessment cannot be carried out as no baseline figures exist. We can point out areas where these have improved (or not), and relate this to the segment of students and the part of the lifecycle.

Perhaps we can put some impact markers on too – such as ‘minor’, ‘major’, ‘critical’. Or indicating progress – such as ‘increasing’, ‘better’, ‘significantly better’, ‘officially recognised’, ‘implemented in policy change’ and so on.

I’m not yet convinced this is the correct direction, but it gives an idea of my current thoughts.


Written by benthamfish

September 19, 2012 at 4:48 pm

AX-S Widget – update

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The OU sample data has now been updated from XCRI-CAP 1.1 to XCRI-CAP 1.2 and the courses classified with JACS codes.  This was achieved primarily through use of Altova Mapforce although there was some data manipulation which required manual processes and use of scripts.

We have taken the decision to use JACS 3 as this is set to be the new standard after this year.  The courses were previously classified using LDCS codes and this provided an interesting comparison of the two classification systems.  The two systems have been developed with very different structures, and each provide their own challenges when trying to apply them to real courses.

Updating to JACS 3 has also meant that the thesaurus, which is the basis for our functionality, has needed to be updated and this is almost complete.  It has also given us the opportunity to go through methodically and ensure that the thesaurus covers all areas covered by the coding system.

Next steps:

  • Finish updating the thesaurus to JACS 3
  • Begin first major iteration of development

Written by jennifermdenton

September 17, 2012 at 12:02 pm

Modelling Bash – University of Sheffield

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Alan, Charlie and myself went to the Modelling Bash at University of Sheffield yesterday and would like to thank the organisers for a very interesting event.  A write up of the event can be found on the Emerging Practices blog.

APS Ltd has been using the Archimate standard for a couple of years to produce diagrams for our clients.  Recently, as we have been working a lot on the Course Data Projects, which focus on process improvement (among other things), we have mostly been doing process diagrams and were looking to learn from others how they use the tool and what they find useful.

We weren’t disappointed.  There were delegates there from a range of different backgrounds, from those who had never used the tool before, to those who have been using it for years.  It was great to see the different approaches people are taking, but we were especially pleased to hear about the new extensions to the standard in Archimate 2.0.  These extensions provide a whole range of stakeholder analysis and project mapping tools to use with the existing elements or on their own, and a new “influence” relationship to connect elements.  We spent a good chunk of the afternoon working with these tools and they have a lot of potential to make Archimate diagrams richer.

As someone who has never had training on the Archi tool it was also useful to have so many people together using it and asking each other for advice.  I know I will be using the hints and properties a lot more.

Written by jennifermdenton

September 4, 2012 at 1:13 pm

AX-S Widget Demonstrator – update

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The Open University have kindly agreed to let us use a sample of their data in the demonstrator, which we are currently converting to XCRI-CAP 1.2 from their existing XCRI-CAP 1.1 file.  The thesaurus, which provides the weighted search functionality, uses JACS codes to identify related courses, so the sample data will also be coded appropriately.

While the data is being tidied up, InGenius Solutions have the development environment up and running and are starting to prototype demonstrator screens using the Open University look and feel.  We felt it was important to use a real university’s data and look and feel for the demonstrator to give an accurate picture of how it would be useful to existing institutions working on their own XCRI-CAP feeds.

Next steps:

  • Complete conversion of OU data from XCRI-CAP 1.1 to 1.2
  • Classify OU courses with JACS codes
  • Start on the first major iteration of development

Written by jennifermdenton

September 4, 2012 at 12:47 pm