Since 2010, a group (QNIG) representing key parts of the University has been working to develop closer links between the student record system (QLS) and NILE.

There are 3 main phases of QLS NILE Integration Group (QNIG):

  1. Username, password and email address synchronisation
  2. Module synchronisation
  3. Grading synchronisation

Phase 1 was completed in July 2011 and now means that usernames, passwords and email addresses on NILE will be the same as used for all other central systems.

Phases 2 and 3 are linked in that we need to ensure that modules in NILE are named in the same way as they are in QLS. Once this is completed then we will be able to automatically enrol students onto modules. Phase 2 is focused on module coding and automatic enrolment of students and this will be completed for summer 2012. Phase 3 is linked to the SaGE project and will be working during 2012/2013 to begin the process of investigating grade transfer from NILE into the student record system.

Phase 2 represents a change for many staff in that NILE courses/modules will no longer be reused each year for a new cohort. Instead a new shell will be setup for new cohorts – meaning that the old cohort will still retain access to previous content. The shell will be based on either the  Module  or Course template depending on the site status in QLS.  The full process is shown on the image below:

[Click on the image below to see full screen]

QNIG process Map
There are benefits of this approach:

  • Allows for automatic enrolment of students onto the correct module and assessment areas
  • The student only sees their own module  site.
  • Allows for assessment variations (e.g. submission dates) between different groups/sessions
  • Keeps the assessment details for each session clearly separated
  • Tutors able to communicate with clearly defined cohorts
  • A new site will be created each year to allow for clear separation of each group and the retention of data.
  • Reduced number of assignment submission points links within a single area
  • Anticipated future ability to extract grades directly from the Grade Centre and transfer these to the student record system.

For further discussion on this process then please contact Rob.Howe@northampton.ac.uk

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4 Responses to Closer links between NILE and the Student Record System

  1. Alasdair Gordon-Finlayson says:

    V pleased that the phase 2 stuff (module instantiation basically) will be going live for next academic year. I have two questions…

    1) How does course content migrate? Does each module have a ‘Master’ that each instance is copied from, or does material get migrated from one year to the next? Also, what content gets migrated, and what doesn’t? (I assume discussion boards would be ditched… but would the various forums set up on a module also be lost? etc etc etc)

    2) How will this work for modules with multiple iterations during a single academic year? I have a module that runs in the first two trimesters with different cohorts, and another module on that MSc runs once each trimester. Will there be separate instances for each iteration?

    …oh, a colleague has just asked a third question, will tag it on here…!

    3) How multiple instances be listed on the NILE home page? Module lists are already quite long, if there are multiple iterations, won’t this run the risk of getting somewhat out of hand?

    …and of course as soon as I start thinking about this, more questions arise…!

    4) Will it be possible to set up course modules that aren’t instanced in this way, that students from multiple years on a single programme will be able to access that remain in place (with forums etc) over multiple years?

    (One last thing – could the &ol>, &ul and &li> tags please also be permitted in these comments?! Thanks!)

  2. Rob Howe says:

    Many thanks for your feedback and questions:
    1) We are currently working on the staff guidance to help them copy appropriate content to the new sites. When the guidance is available we will work with staff to help them on this.
    2) There will be a separate session variation within each module. You can still share content between modules as needed.
    3) 60% of the modules at Northampton only have one session variation. Some staff may see more sites listed on the right side of the page.
    4) Most courses and modules will now be setup automatically by the student record system. If there are combinations that are needed then we will consider these on a case by case basis.

    BTW the additional tags you mentioned are WordPress features which are currently not available. The webteam currently decide which functionality is enabled.

  3. Margaret says:

    The guidance on copying is very useful but the multiple sites is ridiculous, we are having to set up as many as 6 NILE sites for each module – how is this helping the student experience? It seems odd to insist that academics have PhDs and then make them spend significant amounts of time carrying out repetetive tasks – how is this raising the bar?

  4. Rob Howe says:

    Multiple sites exist where there is a difference to student situation. In some cases this may be location and in others it could be different start dates.
    Currently material is made available to all students at the same time – this could be announcements, emails or Turnitin assignments. Comments which have been fed back from students indicate that this is confusing to them as they are receiving communications which are meant for other cohorts or are trying to submit work to the wrong areas. The new proposal will ensure that students only see the material which is needed for their group.
    For staff, whilst it may take a bit longer to look after multiple variations of the site there are benefits in terms of an ability to easily communicate with a single cohort and reduced administration in sorting students who have submitted to incorrect areas. The ability to copy material between modules is now straight forward for new material. Existing material can, if required, be held centrally so that an update to one item (e.g. A PowerPoint) is immediately reflected in all the linked areas.
    When we have implemented the next phase of linking to the Student Record System then we will be able to directly transfer grades from NILE without the need to print material off and re-enter it. This further development will save time for both academic and central staff

    As always, we are continuing to work with staff to investigate the best option for their situation and encourage comments to LTSupport@northampton.ac.uk