Claire Gale: Cranfield University

Interview with Claire Gale, Cranfield University

Most satisfying aspect of the project?

Working with other institutions actually and the networking that working within a Jisc programme enables – meeting other institutions and a peer group almost across the sector.

What has been the biggest benefit of running the project for your institution?

We’ve got a wholly manual process of course and module approval and although we do have course data within our system then because it’s a software supplier system, a generic system then it doesn’t have the validation in it that we would like.  Our system is very backwards and we need to introduce some workflow and some course and module approval front end on to the backend system in order to introduce the validation which will then subsequently increase data quality and will quicken the process so that when the start of the academic year arrives then all of our courses and modules are in place and are ready for the students to select their modules at the time of registration.

What’s been the biggest challenge with the project?

Part of my bid was to… I was interested in getting collaborative working across the sector with institutions that had the same software provider because in the sector there’s only very, very few, there are only 3 or 4 software providers and we are with one of the main, THE main software provider and to me, with a systems background, we’re all putting the same data into the same system.  More or less the same processes and I wanted to find the common process and build a generic solution that was then of benefit to the wider sector outside of this Jisc programme.  The challenge hasn’t been working with other institutions; the challenge has been focusing the software provider to work with a group of institutions rather than their focus seems to be ‘we want to talk to individual institutions’ and build individual solutions.  But then they don’t have the development capacity to do that, to meet the deadlines.

Has it been a bit of a Pandora’s box?

Yes, it has, but then I think we knew at Cranfield what our faults were, well not faults but we were aware of where the processes fell down.  Because every year, at the start of the academic year, things weren’t ready and we would get the Assistant Registrars and Course Directors saying ‘our course isn’t on the website ready for applicants, it should be’, and then we’d have to go through, so we knew we’d have to do this and the Jisc project came along just in time.

What would you like to see happening in your institution post March 2013?

Well, our project won’t actually be implemented by March 13.  We’ve created the XCRI-CAP file. Parts of this project will go on until January 14 and then having listened to some of the presentations today we can use the XCRI-CAP file within our institution and on our website to enable us to have searches on our own website for our own courses.  So I think that would be the expansion.