HEDIIP New Subject Coding Scheme: Impact Assessment and Requirements Definition

Link: New Subject Coding Scheme Impact Assessment and Requirements Definition (PDF)

The New Subject Coding System project was commissioned by HEDIIP (the Higher Education Data & Information Improvement Programme) to develop a replacement to JACS for classifying the subjects of courses offered in UK Higher Education. Cetis (assisted by Alan Paull Services Ltd) were engaged to undertake stage 1 of the project, which involved extensive stakeholder engagement examining the requirements and impact relating to a new subject coding scheme. The findings of this work are presented in this report.

The response of stakeholders to the consultation of stage 1 of the NSCS suggests that, provided a case for change can be stated clearly, it is desirable to introduce a new subject coding scheme. In order to progress that development, the report recommends that:

  • both prototypes be developed further with an expectation to converge them into a single prototype, depending on further feedback;
  • a new governance model be developed under the auspices of an existing sector organisation, with broad representation;
  • a subject coding framework be developed alongside a specific core scheme.

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Survey of the State of Analytics in UK HE and FE institutions

Link: Survey of the State of Analytics in UK Higher and Further Institutions 2013 (pdf).
Link: Survey of the State of Analytics in UK Higher and Further Institutions 2013 (MS Word docx).

An informal survey was undertaken by Cetis in May and June 2013. Subscribers to a number of email circulation lists – with members coming largely from institutional IT, administration and educational technology responsibilities – were invited to respond.
The purpose of the survey was to:

  • Assess the current state of analytics in UK FE/HE.
  • Identify the challenges and barriers to using analytics.

Chart showing reported data sources for analytics

Chart showing reported data sources for analytics

For the purpose of the survey, we defined our use of “analytics” to be the process of developing actionable insights through problem definition and the application of statistical models and analysis against existing and/or simulated future data. In practical terms, it involves trying to find out things about an organisation, its products services and operations, to help inform decisions about what to do next.
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Engaging Developers in Standards Development; the Cetis Code Bash Approach

Link: Engaging Developers in Standards Development; the Cetis Code Bash Approach (PDF)
Link: Engaging Developers in Standards Development; the Cetis Code Bash Approach (MS Word .docx)

A linear process in which a written standard is created and then implemented in software is liable to fail for many reasons arising both from the difficulty in writing a specification that is sufficiently precise and accurate while also allowing for necessary flexibility in use, and from the intrinsic complexity of the human activities and IT systems in which it will be realised. Engaging software developers in the standards development process has been found to be an effective means to improve the written standards, to enlarge the scope of practical interoperability between software, and to identify and share effective practice. Over a period of years, Cetis developed an approach to this kind of engagement which we called a “Code Bash”. This white paper outlines the motivation, typical outcomes and practicalities of running a Code Bash and is intended to motivate people working in either formal or informal standards-development settings to engage developers in the process and to provide them with some ideas to adapt to their own setting.
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CETIS Analytics Series: A Brief History of Analytics

Link: CETIS Analytics Series vol 1, No 9. A Brief History of Analytics (pdf)
Link: CETIS Analytics Series vol 1, No 9. A Brief History of Analytics (MS Word .docx)

The potential of analytics according to this definition is to help us to evaluate past actions and to estimate the potential of future actions, so to make better decisions and adopt more effective strategies as organisations or individuals. Analytics allows us to increase the degree to which our choices are based on evidence rather than myth, prejudice or anecdote.

Several factors are coming together at the moment to stimulate interest in making more use of analytics. One of these is the increased availability, detail, volume and variety of data from the near-ubiquitous use of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) throughout almost all facets of our lives. This aspect tends to be the focus of the news media but data alone is not enough to realise benefits from analytics. A less popularised factor driving effective exploitation of analytics is the rich array and maturity of techniques for data analysis; a skilled analyst now has many disciplines to draw inspiration from and many tools in their toolbox. Finally, the increased pressure on business and educational organisations to be more efficient and better at what they do adds the third leg to the stool: data, techniques, need.

This paper, one of the CETIS Analytics Series, is aimed at readers who wish to be introduced to the range of techniques that are being pieced together and labelled as Analytics. It does this by outlining some of the most important communities – each with their own origins, techniques, areas of limitation and typical question types – and suggests how they are contributing to the future, with special reference to the context of post-compulsory education.

The diversity and flexibility of some of the techniques lined up under the analytics flag is evidenced by the numerous different applications of analytics: financial markets, sports analytics, econometrics, product pricing and yield maximisation, fraud, crime detection, spam email filters, marketing, customer segmentation, organisational efficiency and even tracking the spread of infectious disease from web searches i. Behind these applications we can find the roots of analytics in the birth of statistics in the eighteenth century but since then different applications of statistics and IT have led to different communities of practice that now seem to be merging together. We see that Web Analytics pioneers are now expl oiting data from the “social web” by using Social Network Analysis and that the techniques of Information Visualisation are supporting interactive and exploratory forms of analysis rather than just the graphs in management reports. Subjects that some see a s old-hat such as Operational Research and others that are often perceived as futuristic such as Artificial Intelligence are each making contributions in surprising ways. Meanwhile, the education community has made its own contributions; Social Network Analysis and Artificial Intelligence have both emerged from academic research and we are now beginning to see sector – specific variants of analytics being put to work in the form of Educational Data Mining, Learning Analytics and bibliometrics.
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CETIS Analytics Series: A Framework of Characteristics for Analytics

Link: CETIS Analytics Series Vol 1, No 7. A Framework of Characteristics for Analytics (pdf)
Link: CETIS Analytics Series Vol 1, No 7. A Framework of Characteristics for Analytics (MS Word docx)

This paper, the seventh in the CETIS Analytics Series, considers one way to explore similarities, differences, strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, etc of actual or proposed applications of analytics. It is a framework for asking questions about the high level decisions embedded within a given application of analytics and assessing the match to real world concerns. The Framework of Characteristics is not a technical framework.

This is not an introduction to analytics; rather it is aimed at strategists and innovators in post-compulsory education sector who have appreciated the potential for analytics in their organisation and who are considering commissioning or procuring an analytics service or system that is fit for their own context.

The framework is conceived for two kinds of use:

  1. Exploring the underlying features and generally-implicit assumptions in existing applications of analytics. In this case, the aim might be to better comprehend the state of the art in analytics and the relevance of analytics methods from other industries, or to inspect candidates for procurement with greater rigour.
  2. Considering how to make the transition from a desire to target an issue in a more analytical way to a high level description of a pilot to reach the target. In this case, the framework provides a starting-point template for the production of a design rationale in an analytics project, whether in-house or commissioned. Alternatively it might lead to a conclusion that significant problems might arise in targeting the issue with analytics.

In both of these cases, the framework is an aid to clarify or expose assumptions and so to help its user challenge or confirm them.

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CETIS Analytics Series: What is Analytics? Definition and Essential Characteristics

Link: CETIS Analytics Series Vol 1, No 5. What is Analytics (pdf)
Link: CETIS Analytics Series Vol 1, No 5. What is Analytics (MS Word .docx)

There is currently a growing interest in better exploiting data from various sources to help organisations to be more effective and a growing number of strategies for doing this are being developed across different industries. The term “analytics” is frequently being applied to these efforts but often without clarity as to what the word is intended to mean. This makes it difficult to make sense of what is happening or to decide what to appropriate from other industries or research and hinders creative leaps forward in exploring how to adopt analytics.

This paper, part of the CETIS Analytics Series, is aimed at strategists and innovators in post-compulsory education sector who are grappling with these questions in the context of a single institution or the sector at large. It does so by:

  • considering a definition of “analytics”; and
  • outlining analytics in relation to research management, teaching and learning or whole-institution strategy and operational concerns.

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The Future of Interoperability Standards in Education – System and Process

Link: The future of interoperability standards in education – system and process (pdf).

In January 2010, JISC CETIS organised a working meeting to bring together participants across a range of standards organisations and communities to look at the future of interoperability standards in the education sector. This paper summarises the views expressed by delegates at the meeting and presents relevant background information on present and future models for collaboration between open and informal communities and the formal standardisation system with particular reference to the current issues and barriers in specification and standard development and adoption processes. This summary also presents a series of suggestions on the possible directions of future interoperability standards in education.
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Assessing the business case for standards: Introduction for strategy planning and resourcing committees

Link: Assessing the business case for standards: Introduction for strategy planning and resourcing committees.
Link: Assessing the business case for standards: Introduction for strategy planning and resourcing committees (pdf).

Making a business case for interoperability and standards is a challenging task for those involved in the strategic planning of IT systems in educational institutions. This briefing with its accompanying references is intended to provide advice and supporting materials to help people to incorporate standards in their ICT-related business cases. It assumes some familiarity with the way IT systems are presently deployed and maintained in educational institutions, and will be of interest to Information Services managers and senior managers for strategy planning and resourcing.
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Eductional Technology Standards Review March 2009

Link: Educational Technology Standards Bodies Review Mar 2009 (doc).

A summary of a report made to CETIS Board in March 2009 on standards bodies in the educational technology arena. The bodies covered are IMS Global Learning Consortium, Centre for European Normalisation (CEN), British Standard Institute (BSI) Committee IST/43, the Education Schools and Children’s Services Information Standards Board (ISB), HR-XML, International Standards Organisation (ISO) – IEC JTC1 SC36, Systems Interoperability Framework (SIF), IEEE LTSC, Learning Education and Training Systems Interoperability (LETSI), Suppliers Association for Learning Technology Interoperability in Schools (LETSI), W3C, Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI).

It is an update relative to the October 2008 Review. The reader is assumed to be broadly familiar with the work of the various specifications/standards bodies mentioned; this is not a primer.

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Eductional Technology Standards Review October 2008

Link: Eductional Technology Standards Review October 2008 (doc).

This report is a summary of a report made to CETIS Board in October 2008. It is in the form of an update on changes since the previous (March 2008) Board meeting. The reader is assumed to be broadly familiar with the work of the various specifications/standards bodies mentioned; this is not a primer.

The bodies reviewed are: IMS Global Learning Consortium, the Centre for European Normalisation (CEN), British Standards Institute (BSI) – Committee IST/43, Education Schools and Children’s Services Information Standards Board (ISB), HR-XML, International Standards Organisation (ISO) – IEC JTC1 SC36, Schools Interoperability Framework (SIF), IEEE LTSC, Learning Education and Training Systems Interoperability (LETSI), Suppliers Association for Learning Technology Interoperability in Schools (SALTIS), and the Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI).
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