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October 8th, 2010

SRC project produces Case Study on developing stakeholder requirements for an academic database

Manchester Metropolitan University (MMU) is currently operating several key initiatives aimed at streamlining curriculum design, approval and delivery. These initiatives include the JISC-funded project “Supporting Responsive Curricula” under the “Institutional approaches to curriculum design” strand of JISC‟s e-Learning Programme, as well as several linked projects and programmes directly funded by the University itself notably EQAL. EQAL is a wide-ranging academic change initiative that aims to achieve a transformative improvement in the quality of academic life at MMU for staff and students, with major effect for undergraduate provision from autumn 2011 followed by subsequent effect on taught postgraduate provision. The Organisational Infrastructure Strand of EQAL has as one of its aims the transformation of the complex and burdensome nature of current course structures and processes towards simplicity with high quality.

One area which overlaps SRC and university initiatives such as EQAL is that of an academic database. The SRC Project work is examining the close interrelationships between courses information systems, particularly those for validation and approval, and other systems within the University, including but not exclusively student record systems, timetabling, VLEs, MIS systems, marketing, libraries and resourcing services, and external systems such as UCAS and other course information aggregators. These linkages will be better served by an authoritative and centralised Academic Database than by current systems, thereby providing higher quality data for all. It has been clear through both the CAMEL Cluster meetings and overall programme meetings that many of our colleagues in the sector are struggling with the same issues so in putting together our own set of requirements, we have sought to look at ways in which this could be shared. Many of the requirements which define MMU’s needs will be common to other institutions.

This case study describes the development of stakeholder requirements for the Academic Database and provides some useful insights from one University that the authors hope will be helpful to other institutions engaged or about to engage in similar activities. It reflects thinking at a particular point in an emerging requirements gathering process, but it is hoped that others will nonetheless find value in the approach taken.

Download the case study

2 Responses to “SRC project produces Case Study on developing stakeholder requirements for an academic database”

  1. Stephen Powell Says:

    Thanks for this. Much of what you capture is reassuringly familiar, although in terms of developing a generic Academic Database solution/tool, I think that the devil will be in the detail.

    Two possibilities occur:
    - a tool developed has lots of ‘black boxes’ and thereby relies staffs ability to self-regulate their activities rather than implementation of fine grained stakeholder requirements (I hear the groan, this is how we got into this mess in the first place!);
    - a tool is more prescriptive and requires institutions to modify their structures, systems and processes to fit it.

    Meanwhile, at Bolton we are also gamely bashing along developing a ‘virtual’ academic database that fits our context including the database systems that we already have. For us this means having a Service Oriented Approach using API and developing several modest tools, although each accessed through Moodle. This is partly because we don’t have the resource for grander ambitions, but mostly because this fits the IT strategy for a small instituion like ours.

  2. Communicating technical change – the trojan horse of technology « JISC Curriculum Design & Delivery Says:

    [...] workshops around the development of a new academic database. They have also written a comprehensive case study on their experiences. The screen shot below captures some of the issues the project had to deal [...]

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