Funding 1/01: Invitation to tender for the provision of a JISC/DNER national focus for digitisation and quality assurance in the UK
The JISC/DNER have issued an invitation to tender for the provision, for two years, of a national focus for digitisation and quality assurance work in the UK.
In the past five years sources of public funding to generate high quality digital resources for post-16 education and life-long learning have increased exponentially. A variety of programmes and initiatives have concerned themselves with funding new content intended for educational purposes. The JISC/DNER has contributed to this activity and is currently engaged in the development and creation of new digital resources intended for learning, teaching and research purposes for higher and further education audiences. In parallel with this growth in funding opportunities, more complex information environments are emerging with which these resources need to interact in order to make them meaningful to users. The DNER information environment is one of these. This information environment is defined by a set of stable and emerging standards for resource creation, description, access, discovery, management and preservation. As a result of this development, an important strand of "programme management activity" for the DNER and other funders is to manage digitisation activity in a proactive manner and provide coherent methods of quality assurance. In a DNER specific context this involves ensuring that resources are appropriate and adequate at a detailed level for the information environment that will provide access to them for users.
Past digitisation programmes tended to operate in an environment where technologies were relatively immature and unstable therefore suggesting a research-orientated approach to the management of digitisation activity. The idea that all results were good results and as such could contribute to the growing pool of knowledge about good practice was therefore an entirely valid approach. However inter-related factors mean that it is now necessary to attempt to co-ordinate digitisation effort more closely and against a defined set of benchmarks. These factors are the growing sophistication of the information environment through which digital resources may be accessed, and, in parallel, the growing sophistication and specialisation of user expectations. Equally a great deal has been learnt about the best ways to create new digital resources, it is clear this intelligence needs to be absorbed, shared and managed in an active manner.
These conclusions have been very much substantiated by the work under taken by HATII at Glasgow University. Dr Seamus Ross, HATII Director, has recently undertaken a JISC funded consultancy to review the JISC Image Digitisation Initiative and specifically the model it employed to manage the creation of 13 image collections. Furthermore the study evaluated and arrived at an appropriate model for the JISC to employ when managing future digitisation programmes. One of the key findings of this piece of work was that funders in the broadest sense have perhaps been a little too laissez faire concerning the quality assurance methodologies applied to digitisation initiatives. They have also sometimes failed to take into account the future information or delivery environment with which these resources are likely to be merged. The report recommends that more targeted effort should be devoted to the close management and quality assurance of digital resources created by funded programmes. The Higher and Further Education community currently benefits from the expertise of a network of JISC funded advisory services, these are charged with advising broadly on good practice in the digital arena. It is planned that the digitisation focus will work closely with these services while providing some dedicated effort to quality assure the outputs of the JISC/DNER programmes.
A clear rationale driving the digitisation and quality assurance focus is the need to provide a new level of detailed accountability, working closely with funded projects to ensure that their outputs and products are as close as possible to the expectations enshrined within the DNER standards and guidelines. Equally it is predicted that important lessons will be learned about the process of attempting to adopt "standard" approaches and the implications of this for projects. Furthermore it is important for the JISC and other funders set in place sustainable and extensible processes for managing this kind of activity. Therefore the focus will also look at the future of such an activity beyond the two years of funding initially available and consider how such work sits within the portfolio of JISC advisory services and cognate effort.
Outline description of the Digitisation and Quality Assurance focus
The primary activity for the focus will be to work closely with DNER development programme projects that are creating digital resources. The focus will provide quality assurance effort for relevant DNER projects and activities and will provide a means of feedback to the DNER team about the issues and problems involved with implementing the DNER standards and guidelines. This activity will take place for the duration of the existing DNER development programmes. The focus will also work to develop and refine an appropriate operational model for the JISC/DNER to manage and quality assure future initiatives. During the 2 year life span of the focus it is possible the other digitisation initiatives may come on stream and the focus will be responsible for leading digitisation effort in this area. The focus will also be expected to maintain an outward looking perspective and will need to engage actively with other JISC services, analogous projects, and other organisations engaged with funding or managing digitisation.
Responsibilities of the individual or team
- Provision of quality assurance effort for relevant DNER development programme projects
- Ensuring adherence of projects to relevant parts of DNER standards and guidelines and reporting on problems in their implementation; incorporating feedback and recommending updates to the guidelines for the community as appropriate
- Working closely with JISC/DNER Data Services and other network services in order to ensure integration of new digital resources into the information environment
- Provision of focus and leadership for digitisation management in future initiatives funded in HE, FE and beyond
- Provision of specific advice on good practice for digitisation management in conjunction with JISC advisory services
- Dissemination of information to other relevant programmes, projects and funders
1. To develop and implement a methodology to quality assure the digital resources and other products arising out of the JISC/DNER development programmes, this involves:
- Ensuring adherence to DNER Standards and Guidelines
- Taking an active role in quality assuring the following types of products:
- Moving pictures and sound
- Learning and teaching packages, modules and objects
- Services (e.g. Join-Up for article infrastructure services)
- Other products as they arise
- Assisting transfer of products to DNER services for delivery
- Checking projects QA procedures
- Evaluating problems and issues arising from DNER standards and guidelines in this context
- Recommending updates to the DNER standards and guidelines
2. To contribute to developing a model for the future and ongoing management and quality assurance of digitisation and content creation initiatives for the JISC/DNER
The digitisation and QA focus will expect to work closely with the following individuals, and organisations:
- JISC/DNER Office: Collections and Development Teams
- DNER Evaluation Team
- DNER Development Programme Projects
- JISC Advisory and Data Services
- JISC Monitoring and User Evaluation team
Dissemination of Focus Activities:
- HE and FE community members engaged in digital resource creation
- Funders and projects engaged with digital resource creation principally in the government and educational sector in the UK and beyond
Duration: 2 years, commencing as soon as possible
Budget: The indicative maximum budget for this activity is £50,000 per annum (inclusive of VAT). Proposals will be judged according to value for money for the service being offered
Applications: Tenders for the hosting and provision of the focus are invited from institutions or from individuals with the support of their institution. Tenders should be no more than 5 sides of A4, in addition to which the CV(s) of the coordinating candidate(s) should be appended.
Informal Enquiries: Can be addressed to either Catherine Grout, JISC/DNER Assistant Director, Development, tel: 0207 848 2493/email: email@example.com or to Caroline Ingram, JISC/DNER Learning and Teaching Programme Manager, tel: 0207 848 2670/email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Closing Date: Five copies of the tender (including CVs) should be sent to Catherine Grout, JISC Office, Strand Bridge House, 138-142 The Strand, London, WC2R 1HH by 5pm on 30 August 2001. Interviews will be held in central London in week commencing 24th September 2001
Selection Process: Short listed candidates will be invited for interview.