Wednesday, September 15, 2010

How to Create On-line University Courses in Electronic Archiving: Part 17 - Redesign for 2011

The course "Electronic Data Management" (COMP7420) was designed for archivists, records managers and librarians, as a six week, one hour per day, e-learning course. The course has been offered by ANU during 2010, but so far there has been little interest. The NSW Office of State Records now have this course first in their list of Education and training opportunities. The name and description of the content may make it sound too technical for information professionals. However, there is enough interest from the Austrlaian Public Service to offer the course in January 2011. Therefore I have to start preapring the materials.

E-learning format

This is an expanded and accredited version a short intensive course I ran in 2007 at the request of National Archives of Australia. The notes for that course are online. For the e-learning version the content has to be converted to a format where the student can work through it at home, with limited guidance. The exercises have to be carefully designed, as I will not be there to point things out for the student. While tutor help will be avialable, this will require the student to send a message and wait for a reply, which could take hours.

Accreditation and Learning Outcomes

Also I need to incorporate the accreditation requirements of the various professional bodies. This is only a short course (equivalent to half a normal unviersity one semester unit), so it would not be suitable for full professional accreditation where a unviersity degree is required. But it could form a useful part of such accreditation. The ANU already runs courses in Museums and Collections (I ran a course on web design for museum staff in the Pacific for ANU).

Currently the learning outcomes are described in terms of the Skills Framework for the Information Age (SFIA). However, SFIA is intended for IT professionals and may not be as applicable. The outcomes are also relatively passive, saying the students will be able to "describe", rather than do.

Some courses are accredited by the Australian Society of Archivists at a few Australian universities (none at ANU). ASA ’has Course Accreditation Policy, Principles, Procedures, Guidelines for ASA Participation in University Courses. What makes this a little easier is that there is a joint ASA/RMAA Statement of Knowledge for Recordkeeping Professionals. So ASA and RMAA are using the same body of knowledge.

The ASA/RMAA Statement of Knowledge for Recordkeeping Professionals is refreshingly brief at only nine pages long. This is based on AS ISO 15489 - 2002 Records Management and BSB01 Business Services (Recordkeeping) Training Package standards. The document was due for review in August 2008. So it might be a good time if I have any additions on e-records to suggest. The document takes the approach of having a recordkeeping education framework which allows learning pathways with vocational and tertiary qualifications and professional development. It sets the task for professionals to:
Recordkeeping professionals:
1. Establish, manage and maintain recordkeeping frameworks that:
  • enable accountability and governance;
  • preserve memory and identity; and
  • provide information.
2. Establish, manage and maintain recordkeeping processes and systems that:
  • capture, maintain and provide authentic, reliable, accessible and trusted records of social and business activities; and
  • meet the needs and expectations of individuals, organisations and society.
3. Apply theory and practice through ethical behaviour, promulgated in codes of practice or conduct.
4. Engage in an advocacy role for the recordkeeping profession to promote awareness and understanding of recordkeeping theory, practice and ethics.
The Records Management Association of Australasia (RMAA) provide more detailed guidance for course accreditation. Their "Procedures for the Accreditation of Courses" (April 2007) and "Course Accreditation Checklist for Courses meeting the Statement of Knowledge for Recordkeeping Professionals" (Version 1.0, April 2007), provide a useful short list of what a course needs.

The RMAA procedures specifically allow for "individual programmes of study resulting in competencies being
gained by accumulation and transfer.", allowing for a short course which can be added to with other courses.

The RMAA Course Accreditation Checklist has five categories:

  1. Information Generation, Communication & Utilization Scope
  2. Information Management and Organisational Context Scope
  3. Information Systems & Information & Communication Technologies
  4. Information Environment & Policy
  5. Management and Transferable Skills
The obvious area to concentrate in a "electronic" course is "C. Information Systems & Information & Communication Technologies". However, any course will need to touch on the other areas. Also an e-leanring course could be valuable in teaching new "E. Management and Transferable Skills" in partiocualr how to use computer based system for working in groups.

The Australian Library and Information Association (ALIA) has a set of course criteria simialr in concept to RMAA. ALIA have categories of Professional and Library technician level courses. For the technician level there is a "Museum and Library/Information Services Training Package" (CUL04) aligned to the Australian Qualifications Framework.

The AQF raises the issue of the use of standard course descriptions. "Vocational" (TAFE) courses have the advantage of a carefully nationally standardised set of course descriptions. The National Training Information Service (NTIS) database includes, for example, the unit "Review recordkeeping functions" (BSBRKG305A:). This is based on the ASA/RMAA Statement of Knowledge. There are 409 Units of Competency in the NTIS database mentioning "records".


Assessment is set as:

  • 10% Online quizzes
  • 20% Online Discussion/ In-class participation/ Learning Journal
  • 40% Exam
  • 30% Case studies project
Preparing online quizzes is a skill I have yet to master, but should be feasable using the support at ANU for e-learning. When I wrote the assessment I assumed the "Exam" would be an online one, similar to that I conducted in the classroom for the intensive course. This used the Moodle assignment system. In university terms the exam would be a "take home examination". However, this might take the form of a highly structured assignment with a short deadline, rather than a traditional examination. That is the student would be given one task, with the questions of the examination providing the guidance on individual parts of the task. This would be similar to a high prorioty task in the workplace: "Quick we need to come up with a XXXX in the next three hours.".

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