Last Friday I headed to Big London to the JISC offices for an event organised by Graduate Prospects. They are working with JISC and Alan Paull Services on a national roll-out of XCRI, especially in regard to postgraduate course information.
So what on earth is XCRI?
XCRI-CAP stands for eXchanging Course Related Information, Course Advertising Profile. XCRI-CAP is the UK standard for describing course marketing information.
The idea is that all higher education providers adopt XCRI-CAP therefore publishing their course information in a consistent format, making it easier for prospective students to compare courses across multiple institutions. Once this information has been gathered and formatted, an XCRI feed is generated and added to an institution’s website. Aggregator, and other, sites can then ‘pull in’ this feed, thus removing the need for institutions to constantly rekey the same information into multiple websites.
The drivers for the initiative are simple:
- Collect once and use many
- Common approach = less confusing for the user
- Less confusing = informed choice
- Informed choice = happier students!
Bradford has been involved with XCRI for around seven years and received funding from JISC as part of their Course Data Programme. Over 80 institutions received funding for Stage 1, which was to review the maturity of an institution’s course information management by filling in and evaluating the results of the Self Assessment Framework (SAF) which was provided as part of the project. Following this, institutions were invited to apply for funding for Stage 2, which was to look at making improvements to course information management based on the results of the SAF. Bradford was successful, and as part of this stage we had to produce an XCRI-CAP feed of our ‘hard to reach’ courses. We chose our postgraduate courses.
I shared our experiences of XCRI so far with colleagues from Graduate Prospects, JISC and other universities across the country as did colleagues from Oxford University and the Open University. The event had a mixture of attendees in terms of the experience and knowledge of XCRI so it was great to be able to speak to those at the start of their XCRI journey and give them some useful pointers and tips.
Whilst it appears quite technical on the surface, undertaking the adoption of XCRI is more of a business process review, from which an XCRI feed may be produced. Our project was invaluable in developing an institutional view of our processes and procedures around course information management, from which we could make plans for improvements. This has led to our Curriculum Management Project and the adoption of a curriculum management system, as well as improved business processes.
XCRI will really come into its own when more course providers adopt it and put pressure on the major aggregator sites (we know who they are!) to accept the feeds, rather than relying on institutions providing a content in a format they demand. Graduate Prospects are leading the way and are ready to test feeds of postgraduate course information now, ready to go live in March. We are undertaking some more work on our feed and then its good to go.
It was a really informative event, and even though we are somewhere along the XCRI journey there were opportunities to learn more through the experiences of others and the experts in the room.
There is a huge amount of useful information online, including case studies from the JISC programme – these are housed in the JISC InfoNet Managing Course Information infoKit, as well as the XCRI Knowledge Base.
So my advice would be to get on board, get involved with XCRI and you never know where it might lead.
Get in touch if you’d like to know more.