Modelling MMU programmes and units with Metadata for Learning Opportunities (MLO)

MMU is currently reviewing the information it collects about Programmes and the Units that comprise them with a view to streamlining curriculum design, approval and delivery. The goal is to enter data once and re-use data items where they are needed: for instance, for setting up enrolment possibilities and assessment regimes in the student records system, or advertising courses in the prospectus.

Traditionally, information about Programmes and Units has been collected in Word documents for review through Quality workflows. Recently, templates used for these Word documents have been scrutinised in an institution-wide review of the Programme Approval, Review and Modification (PARM) process. Simplified versions have been developed in consultation with colleagues from Planning and Management Information and the Centre for Quality Assurance and Enhancement.

Whilst naming conventions vary across the institution, simplified versions of the Programme and Unit documentation have been developed based on a five level hierarchy:

  • Programme Specification
    (top level document scrutinised as a whole at a QA event)

    • Award Specification
      (defines the final award titles for a Programme)

      • Course Specification
        (defines the delivery modes for achieving each defined Award)

        • Stage Specification
          (defines the stages that comprise each Course and specifies the Units that comprise each Stage)

          • Unit Specification
            (defines the learning outcomes and assessment regime for a particular unit (or module) of study)

The following information has been identified as important for each level of specification (the column on the right provides a mapping to properties of the Learning Opportunity Specification class in the MLO information model):

Curriculum
Item
Information MLO LOS property
Programme programmeCode dc:identifier
programmeTitle dc:title
programmeDescription dc:description
programmeLearningOutcomes mlo:objective
Award awardCode dc:identifier
finalAward details
(finalAwardTitle and finalAwardBody)
mlo:qualification
Course courseCode dc:identifier
courseUcasCode
(if applicable)
dc:identifier
courseDescription
(succinct, ideally less than 100 words)
dc:description
courseSpecificEntryRequirements mlo:prerequisite
coursePlaces
(expected all year numbers)
mlo:places
courseDeliveryStart
(each start within year must be identified)
dc:date
courseDeliveryMode
(full-time, part-time or sandwich)
mlo:engagement
courseDeliveryProvider
(if a collaborative partner is involved)
mlo:offeredAt
courseDuration
(normal duration for the mode of study specified for the course)
mlo:duration
Stage stageCode dc:identifier
stageCredit
(scheme, level and value of credits for stage completion)
mlo:credit
stageLearningOutcomes mlo:objective
stageAward
(details of any interim award title the awarding body for the stage)
mlo:qualification
stageUnits
(including unit code, whether it is core or optional and the stage learning outcomes covered)
mlo:hasPart
Unit unitCode dc:identifier
unitTitle dc:title
unitTitleShort
(an official abbreviation to be used with the unitCode on timetables, VLE announcements, etc)
dc:title
unitKeyword
(to facilitate unit search)
dc:subject
unitJACS
(for statutory returns and to facilitate intelligent recommendation of library resources)
dc:subject
unitLearningOutcomes mlo:objective
unitDescription dc:description
unitSyllabus dc:description
unitOwner
(the department responsible for resourcing the Unit)
dc:publisher
unitCoordinator dc:contributor
unitExternalExaminer dc:contributor
unitLastModified
(maintained automatically)
dc:date
unitCredit
(scheme, level and value)
mlo:credit
unitPrerequisite
(any units that must be passed in order to enrol on the unit)
mlo:prerequisite
unitCorequisite
(any units that must be taken alongside the unit)
mlo:extension
unitExclusion
(any units that cannot be taken alongside the unit)
mlo:extension
unitAssessmentElement
(the element type and weighting and unitLearningOutcomes and graduateOutcomes covered by each item in the assessment regime)
mlo:assessment
unitDelivery
(the code, coordinator, start within the year, mode of study and delivery provider for each unit instance that will run within an academic year)
mlo:extension

A diagrammatic representation of this hierarchy of information appears below
Model of entities in MMU's Programme and Unit hierarchy

MMU’s five level hierarchy can be represented using the forthcoming European Norm on Metadata for Learning Opportunities, using draft XML bindings under development to support the imminent release of the EN.

The hierarchy will be implemented using a custom XML schema that references (and refines) tweaked versions of the XML schema documents under development to support the EN:

A working prototype of an XML schema for modelling the MMU hierarchy using MLO-AD is available below:

This schema permits representation as follows:

<mmu:programmeSpecification>
 <mmu:programmeCode></mmu:programmeCode>
 <mmu:programmeTitle></mmu:programmeTitle>
 <mmu:hasAward>
  <mmu:awardSpecification>
   <mmu:awardCode></mmu:awardCode>
   <mmu:hasCourse>
    <mmu:courseSpecification>
     <mmu:courseCode></mmu:courseCode>
     <mmu:courseUcasCode></mmu:courseUcasCode>
     <mmu:courseDescription></mmu:courseDescription>
     <mmu:courseDeliveryStart></mmu:courseDeliveryStart>
     <mmu:hasStage>
        <mmu:stageSpecification>
          <mmu:stageCode></mmu:stageCode>
          <mmu:hasUnit>
             <mmu:unitRef></mmu:unitRef>
             <mmu:unitMin></mmu:unitMin>
             <mmu:covers></mmu:covers>
          </mmu:hasUnit>
          <mmu:stageAward>
            <mmu:stageAwardTitle></mmu:stageAwardTitle>
            <mmu:stageAwardBody></mmu:stageAwardBody>
           </mmu:stageAward>
           <mmu:stageCredit>
            <mmu:stageCreditScheme></mmu:stageCreditScheme>
            <mmu:stageCreditLevel></mmu:stageCreditLevel>
            <mmu:stageCreditValue></mmu:stageCreditValue>
           </mmu:stageCredit>
           <mmu:stageLearningOutcome>
            <mmu:outcomeId></mmu:outcomeId>
            <mmu:outcomeTitle></mmu:outcomeTitle>
           </mmu:stageLearningOutcome>
          </mmu:stageSpecification>
        </mmu:hasStage>
        <mmu:courseSpecificEntryRequirements />
        <mmu:coursePlaces></mmu:coursePlaces>
        <mmu:courseDeliveryMode></mmu:courseDeliveryMode>
      </mmu:courseSpecification>
    </mmu:hasCourse>
    <mmu:finalAward>
     <mmu:finalAwardTitle></mmu:finalAwardTitle>
     <mmu:finalAwardBody></mmu:finalAwardBody>
    </mmu:finalAward>
   </mmu:awardSpecification>
  </mmu:hasAward>
  <mmu:programmeLearningOutcome>
   <mmu:outcomeId></mmu:outcomeId>
   <mmu:outcomeTitle></mmu:outcomeTitle>
  </mmu:programmeLearningOutcome>
 </mmu:programmeSpecification>

Proposals for curriculum information forms are currently out for circulation across the university, supported by some web mock-ups:

It is hoped that this prototyping work on a MLO-compliant schema will accelerate development of the final system when requirements are signed-off.