Who Goes There? An investigation into XCRI and Identifiers

July 9th, 2010

Two members of the CCLiP team, Alan Brown (University of Liverpool, XCRI feed producer and project partner) and Anne Qualter (head of the Educational Development division at the University of Liverpool, on behalf of the CCLiP project manager), attended the MUSKET Assembly on 2nd July 2010. At the assembly Alan Brown gave a presentation about the use of XCRI in the CCLiP portal. Part of his presentation addressed the issue of identifiers and the <identifier> element in XCRI, and it was this part of the presentation that seems to have sparked some discussion.

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A chat with the LARC Marketing board!

November 18th, 2009


On the 19th of October the CCLiP team met with the LARC (Liverpool Arts Regeneration Consortium) marketing board to discuss the proposed functionality of the portal. The meeting was a very successful and lively affair with a lot of discussion and a very warm welcome from the marketing board. We discussed  the document attached at the bottom, and the members offered to provide any additional feedback by email in the following week or two.


The board were very positive about what we were proposing and liked the ideas suggested, but ultimately wanted to have something they could actually use and try out in order to provide constructive feedback. We concluded the meeting by agreeing that the document could form the basis of the initial functionality and that the board would be delighted to suggest additional functionality and comment on the portal once a beta version was available to try.


Another topic of conversation at the meeting was that of the target audience of the portal and, as a result, Erica has arranged for David Baume to facilitate a meeting to discuss the issue further with the partners involved on the 20th of November.


LARC marketing board – functionality document (.doc)

When Alan Paull Came to Liverpool…

October 15th, 2009

Alan Paull (http://www.alanpaull.co.uk/) came to Liverpool between the 22nd and 24th of September to conduct interviews  with key staff within the HEIs and Cultural Organisations involved in the CCLiP Project.

Alan is involved as a consultant who, through analysis, is going to produce a “roadmap to implementation of XCRI” for each organisation involved. Over the three days he visited the three HEIs involved (the University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University and Liverpool Hope) and the 8 cultural organisations hoping to work on the project (the Bluecoat, FACT, Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool Everyman and Playhouse, National Museums Liverpool, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Tate Liverpool and SMAC). He spoke to the key staff involved both with the responsibility of organising MIS data and producing information about CPD provision within their HEI/organisations. There was a mixture of technical and marketing staff at each session. Within the Universities both central services and relevant individual departments were represented.

We have begun to identify and establish links with end users of the CCLiP within the cultural sector and working with the cultural organisations is proving to be very exciting, we believe this is the first time that XCRI has been used outside of the education sector. The approach taken in the sessions with the representatives from the Cultural Organisations was slightly different in terms of the language used (this was tailored to reflect the types of offerings that they might have rather than accredited courses) and also the headings on the XCRI template were altered slightly to give the cultural sector the ability to be able to relate to the type of information being asked for. It was helpful to be able to give practical advice so that they could return to their organisations and be able to know what they were being asked to provide to CCLiP.

The cultural organisations have a huge variation in their current technical expertise and in the readiness of their data to be converted into an XCRI format. For example FACT have a lot of technical expertise in-house and have already adopted XCRI and built it into the specification for the new Content Management System (CMS) that they are currently implementing, and The National Museums have well structured data that should be easily converted into XCRI. The converse is true of some of the other organisations, some of whom have little or no in-house technical expertise and who have their courses listed in document form, or on a website in non-valid HTML.

In the HEI sector, the University of Liverpool and Liverpool John Moores store most of their data centrally in well structured databases and should have no problem providing information about accredited courses. The unaccredited CPD that goes on around both Universities is going to be more difficult to compile however. All of the organisations (HEI and cultural) are providing Alan with sample data in addition to the information he was able to gather about the current structure of systems that are currently in use from his meetings. We look forward to the first draft of Alan’s report.
At the University of Liverpool some test XCRI feeds have been produced from the central course catalogue. This is helping to identify some anticipated quality issues which can then be approached with experience when dealing with the other partner institutions.

Feedback from the HEI’s is that it has been a great opportunity for staff involved in data management and development across the Universities, both centrally and in departments, to  be able to meet and discuss XCRI and the CCLiP project as well as other developments (tied in with this) happening in their own institutions.
We are also taking the first steps into introducing events into the XCRI CAP 1.1 schema and are in many respects leading the way for the future use of events in XCRI specifications.

Also at these meetings was David Baume, the project evaluator. David has raised some important points for us to pick up on in order to deliver a successful project.  Some of these issues include:

  •  Finding out more about CPD needs in the sector as well as what is currently provided.
  • A better focus is needed on the user. In particular on user needs, how can we gather this important information?
  • Smaller organisations may require more support.
  • How will the portal be marketed and what is its USP (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unique_selling_proposition)

Future plans – The CCLiP Project Team have been invited along to the next LARC Marketing Group meeting on Monday 19th October 2009. An item on the agenda will be the CCLiP project. A paper has been prepared and will be sent out to the representatives from each of the Cultural Organisations for them to discuss with their colleagues prior to the meeting. They will then bring their thoughts and ideas along to the Marketing Meeting for further discussion.

Issues for discussion include: 

What would be the best way for users to search for course/events on the site?

How can we get the users of the site more involved with the website and to feel that they have ownership of the information on the site?

How can users easily record and recover information about courses/events that they have searched for?

Our next blog will include the feedback from this meeting.

XCRI-mely Interesting!

August 21st, 2009

Work on the CCLiP project is progressing well. The technical team have been working closely with Alan Brown, the University of Liverpool contact responsible for course data and creation of the XCRI feed. Discussions with Alan have been quite broad ranging and he has shown a great enthusiasm for the project suggesting ideas for the portal to be produced nearer the end of the project as well as raising issues with regard to the process of creating the XCRI feed. From a University of Liverpool point of view most of the information required is centrally stored, but is not necessarily well formed for use in an XCRI feed. Alan is working to produce a validated XCRI feed that will contain all of the information required, and has already produced some good results but is working to overcome errors and “dirty data” issues.

The CCLiP team have also been meeting with the other institutions (both Higher Education and cultural) to discuss the project, process and try to gauge what each institution wants from the project and how it can benefit most. Where possible the team have allayed concerns that the institutions may have had (for example around data access, security and sharing) and discussed ideas that may benefit the organisation or project as a whole. The meetings have served to provide vital links with the cultural organisations and key contacts with the educational institutions.

Another key priority for the team has been in gathering the necessary information from each of the institutions involved to facilitate Alan Paull’s visit, now taking place in September, when Alan will meet with the key people at each institution, discuss their systems and ultimately produce a plan to help them on their way to providing their data in XCRI. Alan will be visiting the three HEIs (The University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University and Liverpool Hope University) as well as six of the Cultural Organisations in Liverpool (the Bluecoat, FACT, Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool Philharmonic Hall, National Museums Liverpool and TATE Liverpool) during the week of the 21st of September. Alan has asked if we could collect information explaining a little about where and how course data is currently stored (ie website CMS, HTML files, Microsoft Word Documents, Excel spreadsheets etc etc) and where that information is currently available on-line. We are in the process of collecting this information to send to Alan in preparation for his visit.