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June 10, 2009

Implementing the HEAR

Yesterday we held a technical meeting for institutions and vendors piloting the Higher Education Achievement Report, a new approach for providing information about achievement in UK universities. HEAR is based on the European Diploma Supplement, but also incorporates unit grades and credits, as well as non-formal achievements that have been recognised by the university.

However, before institutions can implement the HEAR, there are a number of obstacles they need to overcome. Quite a few of those are really concerned with content - what doe the institution want to say about graduates, and how involved will students and academics be in the process?

However there are also quite a few issues around technology and implementation, and that was the focus of the meeting. I've written up some of the points to consider as an outcome of the meeting on the CETIS wiki.

Several people attending had already mapped data in their institution's SITS student management system to HEAR; one outcome of the meeting was a plan for the SITS team at Tribal to work with these institutions to establish common practice for mapping their data, and identifying the different configuration options that might affect whether institutions are able to successfully map data using their current systems.

As well as discussion, we looked at the GradIntel online recruitment system; here a service providing achievement information is used to add verified source information for a user's profile. Employers are then able to match job profiles to candidate profiles using detailed module-level descriptions.

After GradIntel we also looked at the Digitary system for applying digital signatures to documents and enabling users to grant access online to employers and other parties.

These kinds of services are useful in positioning the HEAR as part of a wider ecosystem of services that can make use of achievement data, rather than just a new piece of paper. There was also a discusson of the formative use of achievement information - for example, using the HEAR as part of the process of helping students identifying the non-formal activities that would help round out their profile.

I think as the HEAR concept develops we'll identify more opportunities for achievement information services and systems, but its still early days for institutions, and most are thinking of quite conservative approaches mirroring existing practices - initially at least.

A big thanks to representatives from Tribal, Oracle, Olivedon, and Digitary as well as pilot projects for coming along and contributing, to Rob from CRA for coming along and offering some very helpful insights, and to Manchester University for giving us a room and lots of fruit and coffee!

Some links for further information on the HEAR:

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