Members of the CETIS Enterprise Special Interest Group suggested a meeting to look at practical approaches to sharing courses information, both between each other and with agencies such as UCAS. The group met in 2005, led by champions such as Mark Stubbs and Alan Paull, and backed by CETIS' Scott Wilson. The work was primed and trialled by funding from Jisc through a series of pilot projects.
After early mapping out of the colossal domain of courses information in general, the work focused in on course marketing information, particularly textual descriptions, leading to the development of the Course Advertising Profile.
In 2006 and 2007 Jisc funded a range of pilot projects to test the initial version of XCRI-CAP, as well as more substantial work looking at processes around course management, and a support project. Case studies from the University of Bradford, Bolton University, the Open University and the West Yorkshire Lifelong Learning Network illuminated the challenges and approaches that different types of provider might encounter, and illustrated the different perspectives of policy makers, managers, administrative and technical staff.
The support project engaged not only with trialling projects, but also with other European initiatives through the European Committee for Standardization (CEN) Workshop on Learning Technologies. The CEN endorsed a Workshop Agreement for Metadata for Learning Opportunities (MLO) which defined a model for expressing information about learning opportunities including course information. MLO was based on the structures described in XCRI-CAP and was ratified as a European Norm (EN 15982) in 2009. In parallel XCRI-CAP version 1.1 was approved by the Information Standards Board for Education Skills and Childrens’ Services (ISB) as the UK eProspectus standard, and in 2012 XCRI-CAP version 1.2 became a British standard (BS 8581).
Course Data Programme: Making the Most of Course Information
In 2011 Jisc put in place a major programme to stimulate discussion, analysis, development, trialling and implementation of improved management of course information. The programme involved over 90 Higher Education providers in its first exploratory stage, 63 projects in Stage 2 committed to producing an XCRI-CAP feed for 'hard-to-find' courses, as well as a data validation service, a data aggregation tool and 8 demonstrator services with exemplars of what could be achieved with the data. In addition to the direct involvement of HE providers, the programme also briefed data aggregating organisations and software vendors about the initiative. As a result of the programme, staff in the sector gained a greater understanding of how to improve the collection, handling and dissemination of courses information. This understanding was gathered in a Jisc infokit.
During the programme it became clear that a significant number of providers were addressing the problems of disseminating postgraduate course information, particularly taught courses. Prospects, the sector lead body for postgraduate student information, was involved in one of the demonstrator projects, and soon committed to the development of an import mechanism using XCRI-CAP as a more efficient data collection method than the traditional one of keying data into a web form. This led to the Postgraduate National Rollout initiative, currently (2015) in operation, the first mainstream implementation of the new data exchange methods.
History of XCRI
XCRI-CAP emerged from a community of practitioners seeking to manage courses information more efficiently.