- Name: UK HE Admissions Structured Personal Statement
- Alternative Names: eP4LL SUM
- Author name(s) : Phil Nicholls
- Organisation : Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC)
This SUM has been prepared from the work undertaken by the e-Portfolios for Lifelong Learning project. The initial aim of the project was to produce a model of an e-Portfolio capable of providing and receiving services from other e-Portfolios, and of facilitating admissions and transitions between study and employment. The project wished to test the hypothesis that transitions between different stages of education and employment are essentially the same. In e-Framework terms, the project investigated an area within e-Administration, and identified a number of services that might be used when a Learner makes an admissions application. Admissions is an expansive area, but there is a great deal of interest in Admissions, e-Portfolios and Lifelong learning within Europe at Governmental Level. Thus, it makes sense that some of the work presented in the project is presented in terms applicable to the e-Framework.
Also of interest to the e-Framework should be the potential re-factoring of some of the very high level service genres, or the creation of Service Expressions to provide an interoperability framework within the admissions process. It should also be noted that this SUM supports the first step in much larger business process.
No special notation is used.
This SUM addresses the admissions process, from the discovery through to application, within an e-Portfolio context. The SUM details the sorts of services that will need to be in place in an ideal e-Portfolio enabled world in order for a candidate to assemble the information required for an application. In a nutshell, the SUM is triggered when a potential applicant discovers a course that is of interest. The applicant then needs to assemble the relevant data required in the application from their e-Portfolio, adding evidence of attainment and obtaining a reference or endorsement from a sponsor. The applicant can then decide to formally apply for the course, or continue with the process of refining the data for the application. The “output” of the SUM is a Structured Personal Statement – which is a collection of data about the applicant, to be used in the applications process post application. Note that this follows typical HE HR practice: a template containing the "Person Specification" for a job against which applicants profile themselves. The re-use of this pattern for HE admissions will produce many templates. HR IT specialists have developed large commercial systems using this pattern also expressed in open source HR-XML.
The SUM is supported by a number of dedicated services which make the above process possible. The SUM is specified at the Genre level for now, but with later work the actual Expressions could be developed. Work in some of these areas is already being funded in the UK. This SUM brings together a number of different data formats that are likely to be of use outside of the context of this particular SUM, most notably the use of course descriptions, and references.
It should be emphasized that the SUM itself presents a collection of different services which are being used together. Users will interact with an application or applications built on top of the SUM; that is, using the SUM as an underlying model. Users do not interact with the SUM directly.
Standard HR practice is to specify the essential and desirable features that applicants for a job should possess. This may include quantified information such as formal qualifications alongside applicants’ personal attributes and experience. Typically a sift of applications identifies and prioritises potential candidates on the basis of hard information on the essential elements of the person specification, such as skills and qualifications. Softer personal information may then be reviewed against desireable elements in the person specification and a shortlist prepared from a second sift. Additional tests may be commissioned and interviews held. HE admissions follows broadly the same pattern but the number of interviews is in decline. These processes are close to those developed within the HR-XML community. Services for HE admissions are intended to support the same pattern of process. A customised set of requirements including personal attributes would be available for each course. Candidates would map themselves against the requirements. Evidence within a student’s e-Portfolio would further reduce the need for interview.
The complete context and analysis, with full use cases and narratives can be found at: http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/epreferencemodel/keydocuments/Narrative.pdf
The SUM in essence deals with a single business process, the transition from FE to HE as described in the project:
- The user discovers a course that is of interest to them.
- The user assembles data from their e-Portfolio which will support their application for the course.
- The user gathers supporting evidence for any claims made (e.g. If a user asserts that they have achieved a grade A in a certain subject, then evidence of the truth of this assertion is produced).
- Annotations and references can be added by trusted third parties.
- The user can submit the application to the admissions agency. (This may be the institution or another agency).
This single process may be further decomposed; and this is illustrated in the SUM diagram and associated functionality.
The SUM functionality closely mirrors the business process described previously. It is assumed that the Structured Personal Statement, is prepared over the course of the engagement with the SUM, and ultimately this document is sent off to the course provider. The deployment of this functionality is normally supported by Information Advice and Guidance, the subject of a linked JISC funded project. This increasingly involves use of social software, subject of joint work between JISC-CETIS and Becta.
Locate a course
This function enables a learner to locate a course that is of interest to them. Users may query a course catalogue via searching or browsing. In this context, browsing is just another form of searching (e.g. searches with terms defined by a user interface on a requesting application).
- A search message, specifying keywords appropriate to the course catalogue, is received.
- The system responds by returning the courses that match the search criteria.
- Requesters select a course to apply for.
- Following selection of a suitable course, the initial Structured Personal Statement is prepared, which will subsequently be used within the SUM.
Locate personal data
This function enables users to locate any of their own personal data that may be pertinent to the application. Essentially these functions will chiefly interact with the user’s e-Portfolio.
- A Search service will be deployed to enable users (via a suitable application) to query and browse the e-portfolio data source. This will be a different search service expression to that used by the course catalogue search in the “locate a course” section previously.
- Update the Structured Personal Statement with data from the user’s e-Portfolio, which the user feels is of use to the application.
This function provides validation of the Structured Personal Statement where data contained therein is an assertion of an awarded qualification or grade. Note that assertions that are NOT based on formal qualifications are not verified in this SUM. (Later work could include verification of informal assertions).
- Update the Structured Personal Statement to show that any included e-Portfolio data which is subject to verification is verified.
Third party additions
This function allows for referees and other third parties to make annotations to the Structured Personal Statement.
- Make approach to referee or other third party.
- Grant permissions to the third party to add to the Structured Personal Statement.
- Append the reference to the Structured Personal Statement.
Submit the application.
Finally, the user needs to send the application to the course provider.
- Submit Structured Personal Statement to institution.
The SUM primarily maintains a document called the Structured Personal Statement (SPS). Different services are used to produce, modify and ultimately consume the SPS. Note that users will interact with an application that uses the SUM as an underlying model; users do not interact with the SUM directly itself.
- Initial contact with the SUM is via the use of an application which is built on top of a Search service, which will allow the user to search or browse for a course that is of interest. An Obtain service can be used to get complete course descriptions that have been discovered within the course catalogue. As soon as the user decides to make an application to enroll onto the course, a template SPS is produced, which contains simply the details of the course itself.
- Now, the onus is on the user to populate the SPS with the achievement details taken from the e-Portfolio data source, via a Search (or browse) based application. In order to access the e-Portfolio, authentication and authorisation services must be employed. The e-Portfolio MAY be distributed, so it is possible that multiple services may need to be employed. Data is then selected by the user and added to the SPS. An Obtain service is used to get complete data items from the e-Portfolio for inclusion into the SPS.
- At this stage, the SUM has created a new SPS, and added data to it, both from the initial course description and also the data provided by the user from the e-Portfolio. At this stage, a validation service is employed to check some of the assertions made by the user. This validation process is abstracted by the service, but should include:
- Confirmation with any awarding authorities (exam boards, other agencies), that any asserted formally assessed qualification on the part of the user is true.
- Update of the SPS to show which qualifications have been validated.
- The validation service SHOULD NOT require access to the e-Portfolio as the SPS contains all of the qualifications required for verification, and where the qualifications were obtained from.
- The penultimate stage is for the user to invite referees to add annotations. Initially, an application will need to allow the user will need grant permissions to referees to make annotations to the SPS, before an Alert service is used to notify referees that their input is required. An authentication service is required to ensure that the correct referees make contributions. An authorisation service will then check that the authenticated referees have permission to make the annotations. Finally, a service to enable annotations upon the SPS is required for authenticated, authorized referees.
- Finally, the user submits the SPS, which now contains the course details, personal details from the user, and references. The submission might be to an agency such as UCAS or to an institution directly. The application makes use of an Add service to facilitate this.
Note that it is assumed that only the user has access to the e-Portfolio data source in this SUM. The e-Portfolio data source provides almost all of the source personal information about the user for the purposes of the application. Verification data is purely offered on the basis of the personal information that has been selected by the user; validators do not access the e-Portfolio directly. Likewise referees make annotations to the SPS, NOT to the source e-Portfolio data store.
Note that following submission, another SUM could be used to enable the application to process with the institution.
UK LEAP: http://www.bsi-global.com/en/Shop/Publication-Detail/?pid=000000000030098157
IMS LIP: http://standards-catalogue.ukoln.ac.uk/index/Ims_LIP
XCRI (eXchanging Course Related Information): http://www.xcri.org
Security is a big issue for this SUM. In essence, the e-Portfolio data source itself needs to permit only authenticated, authorized users to access the data within. Likewise, when the user’s Structured Personal Statement is passed on to third parties, care needs to be taken that the only the third parties invited by the user can make annotations.
Some of the service genres within the SUM will need very careful implementation, not least of which is the service which verifies the formal achievements of the user. This service will rely on a significant investment in infrastructure in order to function in the desired manner.
Implementers may wish to consider XCRI (http://www.xcri.org) for describing courses.
A demonstrator is available at http://www.nottingham.ac.uk/epreferencemodel/keydocuments/demonstrator/index.htm
Authentication Data: Enables users to authenticate for the purposes of identification and authorization.
Authorisation Data: This data source is used to ensure that only authorized users are able to access the e-Portfolio itself, or the Structured Personal Statement Document. “Access” here applies specifically to ‘read’ access. E-Portfolios by nature are confidential to their owners until they (or parts of them) are shared.
e-Portfolio Data: This is a data source, or perhaps multiple data sources, which contain all of the achievements, formal and informal, or the user.
Course Catalogue: This is used by a search service as a source of courses to return to the user.
These terms are used within the SUM.
- Application (noun): A formal document that is sent to an institution when a user wishes to enroll on a course of learning.
- Application (verb): The formal act of submitting a formal intention of interest in undertaking a course.
- e-Portfolio: For the purposes of this SUM, an e-Portfolio is a collection of data that has been gathered by an end user, which represents (in their opinion), the important events, learning and other things that the user may wish to share with others, in the process of application.
|SUM Type ||[X] Domain ||[ ] CORE (Commonly Recurring SUM) |
|Domain(s) ||[ ] Learning & Teaching ||[ ] Research |
[ ] Libraries
|[X] Administration |
[ ] IT Services
|[ ] Common |
|Maturity ||[X] Immature ||[ ] Mature |
|Purpose(s) ||[ ] Exemplar ||[ ] Application ||[X] Modelling ||[ ] Toolkit |
|XOR Exclusive "or" ||[X] Service Genres ||[ ] Service Expressions |
|Development Status ||[X] Proposed ||[ ] Developmental ||[ ] Prototype ||[ ] Production |
|Deployment Scale ||[X] Isolated ||[ ] Ubiquitous |
|Time-Constraint Behaviour ||[ ] Hard Real Time ||[ ] Soft Real Time ||[X] None |
|Service End Point ||[ ] Provider ||[ ] Requestor ||[X] Transcoder (both requests and provides) |
|Authentication/Authorisation Dependency ||[X] Auth-Dependent ||[ ] Auth-Independent |
|Status ||[ ] Approved ||[ ] Placeholder |
[ ] Unapproved
|[ ] Superseded |
[ ] Withdrawn
|Confidence Level ||[ ] High ||[ ] Medium ||[ ] Low |
|Version ||Date ||Author ||Description ||Organisation / Project |
|v1.0 ||2007-07-09 ||Phil Nicholls ||Initial Draft ||JISC |
|v1.1 ||2007-07-09 ||Phil Nicholls ||Updated after comment from PJR ||JISC |
|v1.2 ||2007-07-10 ||Phil Nicholls ||Updated after further comments ||JISC |
© Copyright, JISC 2007
Attribute this work as:
UK HE Admissions Structured Personal Statement - eP4LL SUM, JISC, 2007, authored and submitted by Phil Nicholls on behalf of the JISC (e-Framework Partner), 2007
Last updated 14 October 2008