October 8th, 2010
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 â€œSupporting Responsive Curriculaâ€ under the â€œInstitutional approaches to curriculum designâ€ strand of JISCâ€Ÿs 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 MMUâ€™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.