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Summary of the JISC/CETIS conference 2005

08 Dec, 2005
A summary of a report by Jim Farmer, (Sakai Educational Partners Program) and Justin E. Tilton (Instructional Media and Magic, inc.) on the JISC/CEtis conference held on the 15-16th November 2005 at Heriot-Watt University, in Edinburgh.

Jim Farmer of the Sakai Educational Partners Program and Justin E. Tilton of instructional media and magic, inc. were invited to attend the conference. They attended several of the working group sessions, and they produced a report of this year’s conference (as they did last year ). The following is a summary of their report.

Benefits emerging from this conference include:

Sharply improved IT management

Because of the JISC Conferences, the CETIS SIGs, and the collaborative projects encouraged by JISC, university IT managers have become aware of the practices and developments of others, had the opportunity to learn of perspectives beyond their own university, and developed confidence and trust in the work of others. This has led to sharing that otherwise may not have occurred, and thus made their own work much more effective.

Better IT architecture

Through the e-framework and a services oriented approach, UK systems developers are following best practices that are emerging from the IT and corporate industries. This means the current JISC work will have a longer useful life than adding extensions to systems based on 20 year old designs. Implementing the e-framework architecture will yield lower costs of development, lower costs of maintenance and spreading system development costs over a longer time period. These savings come directly from JISC sponsored projects exchanging experience, results and code among UK colleges and universities.

Facilitating the transformation of higher education

As more students work, and more students move between countries and areas, they will want modular learning, so the information systems that support them will need to change. The discussions at the conference identified the changes in processes that universities and colleges are beginning to make to better serve the needs of these mobile students. For example the Integration working group/CETIS Enterprise SIG in discussing the XCRI project identified the need of management of the curriculum within institutions. This kind of discussion leads to more precise requirements for future systems.

Between them Jim and Justin attended some of the sessions. Below are some of the observations they made.


In the system integration group the XCRI project is facilitating the development of the XCFI specification for the exchange of programme, curriculum and course data. This method of developing a specification, which is supported by the CETIS Enterprise SIG, is very effective and will ensure rapid adoption and a long life for the specification.


The Personal Learning and Research Environment working group recommended that work should continue on research, development, and deployment of a prototype environment.


The group spent some time discussing the needs of faculty and the value of items banks. It was generally felt that items banks might be more useful to those teaching introductory and skills based courses where short quizzes help the students to master course content. The question was raised as to whether item banks would be more useful to FE colleges than to traditional universities, this could be a good example of technology tranfer between educational organisations.

Learning Design

Like the assessment group the Learning design group is a close group of people who have worked together and shared experiences over a number of years. The group began by distinguishing between LD, the specification and ld, the process of "designing for learning". Various learning design developments were reviewed by the group before considering which future technologies were needed in this domain. There was an interesting comment about LAMS and the impact it is having on this area, compared to some of the JISC projects that have much smaller development teams.

Informal Discussions

Informal discussions were an important part of the conference. There has now been sufficient software development that it may now be desirable to identify the most productive projects and direct them towards new specific objectives.


Supported by JISC Supported by CETIS
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