Meaningful work placements and graduate employability have always been an important part of university education and preparation for a professional future in certain disciplines, and are arguably even more so today in a climate of limited employment opportunities, with high university fees and loans positioning students as customers investing in their future careers. Certain subject areas enjoy good relationships with industry, providing industrial placements to give students real-world experience in their future fields, while local companies benefit from the expertise and cutting edge knowledge these students can bring to the workplace. Universities and colleges similarly benefit from this ongoing engagement with industry, ensuring their courses remain relevant and meaningful.
Shrinking university staff numbers have increased workloads, limiting the time staff have to spend assisting individual students in seeking suitable placements and opportunities for work-based learning. In any case, reliance on university staff is not necessarily the best way in which students can prepare themselves for seeking suitable, fulfilling employment on graduation, or establish fruitful relationships with potential employers.
The Sharing Higher Education Data (SHED) project attempts to address these issues through the delivery of a ‘matchmaking’ service for students and employers, which will both facilitate communication between them and enable students to plan their learning paths in the light of the expectations and requirements of their chosen profession. Sample case studies included in the student and employer information sheets about the service help illustrate the range of ways in which SHED can benefit both user groups while increasing interaction between academia and industry.
SHED uses the popular Mahara open source eportfolio tool to allow students to develop their profiles, and, vitally, provides them with strict control over what information is made publicly viewable by potential recruiters. Students can also view common employer search terms within their particular field in order to better understand the employment market in that area and to support the review and revision of their profiles to enhance their employability. The integration of the XCRI information model and specification (eXchanging Course Related Information) provides a common framework for describing and sharing course information, while Leap2A and InterOperability provide support for the sharing of eportfolio and competence information.
As a partnership between the Centre for International ePortfolio Development at the University of Nottingham and Derby College, SHED will also be able to demonstrate how the system can be used across a number of different institutions without compromising privacy while maximising opportunities for placement and project work and professional development. Although small-scale and local to begin with, it is intended that the system be scalable to include many institutions, subject areas and locations, and provide both a valuable service for students and employers and insight into regional and national trends in industry and development.
A couple of months ago, JISC released an Invitiation to Tender for a QTI v2.1 implementation and profiling support project. A consortium of experts produced the successful bid, bringing together some of the leading experts on QTI in UK HE, and the project formally kicked off this week. It concludes in mid-September this year.
The consortium is led by the University of Glasgow, and includes experts from the University of Edinburgh and Kingston University, contributions from the IMS QTI working group chairs and tool developers, independent consultants Sue Milne, Graham Smith and Dick Bacon, and input from us here at JISC CETIS. QTI experts at the University of Southampton are advisors to the project.
A project blog has been set up which will provide a central point for dissemination to the wider QTI community. Information on how to get involved with the QTI interoperability testing process is also available there.
The project aims include:
- Contributing to the definition of the main profile of QTI 2.1;
- Implementation of the main profile in at least one existing open source test rendering/responding system;
- Providing support in the use of QTI 2.1 and the conversion of other question and test formats to QTI 2.1 to those developing assessment tools and authoring questions;
- Providing a publicly available reference implementation of the QTI main profile that will enable question and test item authors to test whether their material is valid, and how it renders and responds.
Follow the project blog for future developments!
With IMS Question and Test Interoperability v2.1 almost ready for final release, this draft briefing paper provides an introduction to the specification based on the most recent public draft available. It covers the structure and purpose of the specification, and looks at the history and background to it as well as reasons for its adoption and some common concerns and criticisms. A final version will be released with the final version of the specification; in the meantime, we hope this paper will provide a useful guide to this significantly improved specification. It is likely to be of particular interest to IT managers, learning technologists and developers interested in online and electronic assessment and new to QTI.
Any comments, corrections or requests for additional content are very welcome, either by commenting here on this blog or by email.
The Web3D Consortium has just announced that its standardisation activities will now be open to the public, enabling non-members to participate in development of the specification at all stages rather than just during the public review prior to final approval. There is still the opportunity for private discussion limited to consortium members for those concerned about commercial or other factors, but the overall emphasis is clearly on making this as open as possible.
X3D is an open ISO standard for representing information about computer generated 3D environments and objects. Unlike its predecessor, Virtual Reality Modelling (or Markup) Language (VRML), X3D features integration with HTML, and extends the range of effects supported. X3D is supported by some high profile systems such as the Blender design tool and Sun’s Project Wonderland.
At a time when closed, proprietary players such as Linden Labs are seeing large numbers of layoffs, with inevitable concern from Second Life’s active education community about the potential loss of a huge amount of work and resources should this trend continue, adopting an open approach to development seems a very sensible decision.
IMS have now released (registration required) the results of the QTI 2.1 implementation survey launched in January, looking in great detail into current implementations of the specification.
Twenty-one implementations are covered by the responses, representing a wide range of approaches to implementation, and the actual responses are available for download for those interested. The responses support the notion of a core set of basic features implemented by all respondents, with broader parts of the specification being implemented on a more individual basis.
The results are feeding in to the development of profiles for QTI 2.1:
- Base QTI Profile, covering the features available in the most comprehensive implementations;
- CC-QTI, which updates the functionality covered by the QTI 1.2.1 profile within Common Cartridge 1.0 and which will be integrated into a later version of CC.
Profiling work, including the CETIS QTI working group activities, and subject-specific activities such as profiles for maths are also discussed.
This information will be very valuable for developers of tools and content, and it’s great to see IMS making it available to the community.
IMS invite developers to participate in an IMS Question and Test Interoperability (QTI) v2.1 implementation survey.
The survey is designed to do two things:
- establish the ‘state of play’ with regard to QTI v2.1 tool capabilities
- establish whether there is sufficient overlap in tool capabilities to define one or more profiles.
IMS will publish an anonymous summery of the survey outcomes to all participants. Survey results will be strictly confidential and data from this research will be reported only in the aggregate. Your information will be coded and will remain confidential, however if you wish you may supply your email address if you are willing to be contacted to follow up or for additional information.
The survey only poses questions about QTI v2.1 capabilities, which means that it is not relevant for developers of earlier versions of QTI.
The survey will only take around 20-30 minutes to complete. Information about the QTI project group and results from this survey will be posted in the IMS QTI forum.
This is a great opportunity for QTI v2.1 developers to help steer the future of the specification.