Since NILE was formally established in 2002, the system has developed organically based on staff and student feedback. To date NILE has not been linked with other institutional systems, and this has sometimes caused confusion both at module and user level –  modules listed on this system often did not have the same name or code as that held elsewhere within the University, and passwords and email addresses used for NILE have not been consistent with those used for other systems. The Learning Technology team have been monitoring these issues, and QNIG (QLS / NILE Integration Group) was set up to address them, and starting this summer, a programme of improvements will begin.

Feedback received

A number of comments have been received based around the following points:

  • Some users have reported issues with logging into NILE because their password is different to that used on other systems.
  • Some users have reported that they have not received communications being sent out by NILE via email, because of a mismatch in email address. Some users also report that they have received information from courses and modules which they are no longer taking, because they are not automatically removed from NILE sites.
  • Students often have problems finding their correct modules on NILE, as the site may not have the name they were expecting or is listed inside another course site. Students appreciate being added in advance to the sites they need on NILE, so that they don’t need to search for them, but for staff, adding students to sites can be a long task.
  • Staff sometimes need sites at the field or course level rather than just at the module level, and sometimes sites which do not fit with any of the course, field or module descriptions (for example: a site for particular project activity).
  • Students are currently removed from NILE sites each year which means that they will lose access to previously used materials unless they are separately saved. Again, the process of removing students from sites is time consuming for staff.
  • Staff would like to make better use of the information held in the Grade Centre in NILE, as some of this contains information which also needs to be located on the student record system.

Future Planning

As a result of the feedback above, a number of actions are now being taken forward in a phased process:

Phase 1 (2 / 3 August 2011)

The usernames, passwords and email addresses held in NILE will be linked to the central identity management system. When a user changes their centrally held password or email address then this will be automatically updated on NILE.

Phase 2 (piloting Jun – Dec 2011)

New sites on NILE will be named with a specific ID which matches exactly with that held on the student record system. The ID will define the module, field or course; the cohort (e.g. Autumn, Spring or Summer); and the year of activity.

Any requested site which is not specifically related to a module, field or course will be set up on an ad hoc basis by the Learning Technology team, and normally listed under the Organisation section of NILE rather than within the Module tab.

Once the pilot is complete and any issues have been addressed, this will be rolled out for all NILE sites. Existing course and module sites will be recreated with new codes, and sites not related to taught courses or modules will be moved to organisations. Once this is done we should be able to proceed to automatically enrol students onto the course and module sites they need.

The specific setup of the sites will also mean that a new site will be created for each different cohort and each new year. The implications for this on storage are currently being assessed but this should mean that students could have access to previously taken modules and courses. The setup of new sites will mean that there is no need for staff to manage site enrolments, and communication to specific cohorts will be easier.

Phase 3 (2012 onwards)

Pilots will be undertaken to look at how Grade Centre data from NILE may be passed directly into the student record system. This will potentially speed up student access to grades and reduce administration.

Further Information

If you have any comments or questions on the above then please email Rob.Howe@northampton.ac.uk

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