Because the assessment and feedback lifecycle covers so many different functions, most institutions need a range of systems to support all of their activities. The key areas covered by information systems are usually:
- Course and module information including assessment details
- Student records including marks, feedback and final grades
- Submission of assignments and e-portfolios
- Marking and feedback
- Academic integrity checking
- Online testing and examinations.
Ideally the systems that support the functions listed should be able to exchange data readily.
Currently, interoperability between systems remains a key problem area. In practice the emphasis is still on creating a set of interfaces to move data around between systems on a point-to-point basis. This is complex to achieve and brings with it a maintenance overhead as whenever a particular system is changed, a series of interfaces must be rewritten to update the links to all of the other systems.
The expectation is that modern IT systems should have good application programming interfaces (APIs) ie, a set of routines, protocols, and tools that describe each component of the system (data or function). These allow the various components to act together as building blocks so that systems can work together in a plug and play architecture.
The systems are not the only problem. System integration often throws up a host of issues around institutional business processes, workflows, data definitions and data quality. This is why we have tackled the two topics in tandem. You need to ensure your data and processes aren’t an obstacle to making best use of your existing systems, or to effective implementation of new and better systems.
Through our working group of around 30 universities and the membership of UCISA, we identified institutions’ core requirements for information systems to support assessment and feedback practice – we consider these to be a minimum set of requirements.
The requirements are available in a downloadable format that maps to the assessment and feedback lifecycle and has supporting user stories to illustrate why the functionality is necessary.
Download the requirements list as an Excel spreadsheet
Using the requirements specification with suppliers
We have publicised the specification through both our own and UCISA’s channels and invite suppliers to highlight which of the requirements their product supports.
We have published suppliers’ responses on our EMA blog and we invite customers of those suppliers to use the blog for comment and discussion.
The idea is that by sharing knowledge about effective use of a particular product and how to integrate it, institutions can maximise their existing investments and make good choices about new systems.
We suggest you ask your suppliers to:
- Consider our specifications when preparing product roadmaps
- Update their response to the specifications when they launch new product versions
- Respond to customer discussion on our blog to help the community develop a better understanding of their product.
Using the requirements specification for HEIs
You can use the requirements specification to develop an invitation to tender (ITT) for a new system. This will not only save you work but you can also have confidence that major suppliers will be familiar with the requirements so you have a better chance of getting accurate and meaningful responses.
You can easily tailor the list to your particular specification and requirements.
It could also help you to evaluate the success of your current processes and systems.