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Birkbeck is unique. Part of the University of London, we are a world-class research and teaching institution that specialises in evening higher education for non-traditional students, offering courses at all levels – from certificates of higher education all the way up to MPhil/PhD research opportunities. All of the taught courses in the Birkbeck portfolio are offered by part-time, evening study – although we also offer a few full-time undergraduate courses and an increasing number of courses by distance learning. Students can also choose to study all of our postgraduate and MPhil/PhD options by full-time study. Because our undergraduate courses are offered by part-time evening study, Birkbeck has not traditionally been part of UCAS. This has presented us with particular challenges in ensuring not only that prospective students find our courses, but that they understand the very distinctive mode of learning that Birkbeck offers.

Course Data Stage 2 Birkbeck University of London

Birkbeck is unique. Part of the University of London, we are a world-class research and teaching institution that specialises in evening higher education for non-traditional students, offering courses at all levels – from certificates of higher education all the way up to MPhil/PhD research opportunities. All of the taught courses in the Birkbeck portfolio are offered by part-time, evening study – although we also offer a few full-time undergraduate courses and an increasing number of courses by distance learning. Students can also choose to study all of our postgraduate and MPhil/PhD options by full-time study.

Because our undergraduate courses are offered by part-time evening study, Birkbeck has not traditionally been part of UCAS. This has presented us with particular challenges in ensuring not only that prospective students find our courses, but that they understand the very distinctive mode of learning that Birkbeck offers.

An analysis of Birkbeck web usage has shown us that the Birkbeck course catalogue is the most important part of the Birkbeck web domain for prospective students. It is currently created and maintained via a complex interrelationship between Tribal SITS, Serena Collage (a proprietorial content management system) and an Oracle database. However, Serena Collage is no longer actively developed or supported by its parent company – to make technical changes or implement improvements to our course catalogue, we rely almost entirely on the expertise and technical ability of one member of staff in our Web and Corporate Information Systems team. The information is subsequently provided to third-party course information providers (e.g. Hotcourses) by another member of staff, who cuts and pastes information from our online listings into various provider spreadsheets and databases.

With the increasing demands placed on our course catalogue – not just by staff at Birkbeck, but also prospective students, government policy-makers and other stakeholders, it has become apparent that this system is no longer fit for purpose. The XCRI-CAP project offers an ideal opportunity for us to review and improve our course information systems, as well as giving us a good chance to develop systems that can usefully be disseminated to the Bloomsbury colleges consortium and beyond.

Objectives

  • Review current procedures for collating, updating and maintaining the Birkbeck course catalogue
  • Review the structure and content of course descriptions to ensure that we are meeting government and prospective student requirements
  • Develop a comprehensive list of requirements for our online course information.
  • Create a new structure that can hold fields relating to all of our courses and enable drill down from the course structure to sub-component modules
  • Implement the XCRI-CAP standard  with a COOL URI
  • Roll out our new systems to the Birkbeck community
  • Disseminate the model to facilitate learning and best practice

Anticipated Outputs and Outcomes

  • Replacement of Serena Collage in the development and deployment of our online course information
  • KIS requirements to be integrated into our prospective student user journey
  • XCRI-CAP-compliant XML e-prospectus for Birkbeck
  • Birkbeck case study / report
  • Technical documentation
  • User manual / course specifications

Documents

Final Report

Project Staff

Project Manager
Project Team
  • Adam Castle, Web and Corporate Information Systems team, 020 7380 3187 a.castle@bbk.ac.uk
  • Barbara Harris, Web and Corporate Information Systems team, 020 7380 3186 b.harris@bbk.ac.uk
  • Chetan Patel, Web and Corporate Information Systems team, 020 7380 3180 c.patel@bbk.ac.uk

Documents & Multimedia

Summary
Start date
12 January 2012
End date
29 March 2013
Funding programme
e-Learning programme
Strand
Course Data: making the most of course information
Lead institutions

Birkbeck, University of London

Topic