Wednesday, November 11, 2009

How to Create On-line University Courses in Electronic Archiving: Part 16 - Redesign for 2010

After the success of my Green ICT Strategies course (which will be run again in 2010) , the Australian National University has asked me to design and run "Electronic Data Management" (COMP7420) as well in 2010. 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. I started preparing for the course in mid 2008 but it was not clear if there was a demand for such a course so it was put on hold for two years. In the interim much has happened with e-document management and I know more about e-learning.

COMP7420: Electronic Data Management

Summer session (1 February 2010 to 31 March 2010)


Record keeping and data management are essential to support the efficient and accountable performance of business and government yet up until now there has been no training available for a systems approach to this important area.

To fill this gap, the ANU has developed several short courses that provide people in government agencies with the critical skills needed to manage government information and records in a manner that keeps pace with international trends and changing technology.

This course aims to teach students how they can manage electronic data. Students will learn about electronic data management through online learning, which includes tutoring, mentoring, student discussion forums and weekly feedback.

For more information on the course design and content e-mail Tom Worthington.

Delivery: On-line with no attendance required.

Students undertake the course entirely online via the web from anywhere in the world. Available:

For information on enrolling in this course including fees, please see enrolment information. If you have any queries concerning enrolment e-mail Debbie Pioch (phone 6125 8020).

The StudyAt entry for Course Description and Learning Outcomes and the Course Flyer provide more information.

COMP7420 is a three unit course and is offered subject to sufficient enrolments.


The course is designed to assist the student to see how the course material applies to their world, to compare and select different data mining techniques appropriate to a problem and to understand the implications of those decisions.

Assessment is through:

  • 10% Online quizzes
  • 20% Online Discussion/ In-class participation/ Learning Journal
  • 40% Exam
  • 30% Case studies project

Designer: Tom Worthington FACS HLM, consultant to government and industry.

The course is designed by Tom Worthington, a past President, Fellow and Honorary Life Member of the Australian Computer Society. Tom headed an Australian Government committee which developed electronic document management policy for government agencies.

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Wednesday, September 24, 2008

How to Create On-line University Courses in Electronic Archiving: Part 15 - Redesign for 2008

Last year I developed and ran a short course at ANU on Electronic Document Management, reporting as I went along. The course went reasonably well and is being offered again in 2008, along with modules by others on Material Science , Innovation Management and Data Mining. Also I am to produce a module on Information Architecture and suggested one on Green ICT. But the first priority is to revise the e-document management course from last year, applying what I have learning about blended learning in the interim. Also I would like to change the emphasis from that of using electronic records to get work done more efficiently, rather than the emphasis of records managers for keeping records. There is no value in keeping records, electronic or otherwise, there is only value in what those records can be used for.

Reducing the amount of content

The 2007 e-document module, which is available via my Moodle system, was based on the material I developed for the ANU course "IT in e-Commerce" (COMP3410/COMP6341). My part of the course was "Metadata and Electronic Document Management for Electronic Commerce". As the module developed I also included material from " Writing for the web" (a short course I had run for local government) and "Extreme web design" (used in ANU course "Networked Information Systems" COMP2410/6340).

There was far too much material for a 12 hour module. The original intention was for the web design and web writing material to be in a separate short module, but that one did not end up running in 2007, thus the temptation to pack all the material into the module which did run. So now what I can do is remove some of what was in the e-document course and put it back in the web course where it can be given the depth it deserves.

No accreditation

The intention was also to apply for accreditation of the course from the ANU. However, the advice was that the 12 hour course was too short to practically fit with the ANU's longer courses. The course would need to be expanded to make it at least a 3 credit point course (half the lenght of the usual one semester courses). This would make the unit far too large for 12 contact hours. The obvious solution would be to add work for the students to do in their own time away from the university, turning this into a blended course. But that would change the character of the course and is something which will have to wait for later.

New content

The course was designed for public servants and based on my experience when in the Australian Public Service. In particular it drew on the report "Improving Electronic Document Management: Guidelines for Australian Government Agencies" which was prepared by a committee I chaired. The description of the module mentions the National Archives of Australia's "Designing and Implementing Recordkeeping Systems" (DIRKS) strategy. However, this was only mentioned briefly in the module.

DIRKS Overview

NAA provide a very detailed manual for their eight step DIRKS strategy, based on the international standard ISO 15489 "Information and documentation - Records management". (Part 1 is the actual standard and Part 2 is the guide)
One Step Process

In addition, I mentioned, but did not cover in detail "Note for file: A report on recordkeeping in the Australian Public Service", Management Advisory Committee , 31 August 2007. The MAC report suggests a simplified version of DIRKS and states that National Archives developed a quicker and more practical one-step process that complies with ISO 15489. However, the document contains no reference to where this one step process is documented and the link to an Australian Bureau of Statistics case study ‘Keep the Knowledge’ is incorrect.
A simplified one step process would be useful for this short course, as the intention is not to turn out trained records managers, but to provide public servants with as much as they need to know in relation to electronic records. However, without a document which actually details what the one step process is I will have to make up my own.

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Thursday, August 07, 2008

How to Create On-line University Courses in Electronic Archiving: Part 14 - Getting it accredited

Last year I developed and ran a short course at ANU on Electronic Document Management, reporting as I went along. The course went reasonably well, but it was not intended to be recognised by the Unviersity for credit towards a qualification. To get the course accredited is a complex process. Also there is the need to make sure the infrastructure is available to run it regularly and that it fits in with other courses.

The system used at ANU allocates courses credit points, with a typical one semester course being 6 points. However, the course I ran would only be the equivalent of 2 credit points and so would not fit in with other courses. It did not seem to make sense to make the course three times as large to make it up to 6 points, but 3 points seemed a reasonable level.

The course I had run was only face to face, while there was material online, it was assumed the student would do no prior preparation and complete all the work during the sessions in the classroom. This was done to make it easier for working part time students, but is not typical for the average course and probably is not the best way for students to learn. The students need time for reflection and this can't be done in a hectic workshop.

Having students do homework also saves on university resources. However, it is not free: there are substantial resources needed to make sure the online system the students use from home is working when they need it and that staff are available online. Also there is the need to carefully structure the course so that students can actually do the remote component. With competing demands for time it can be very easy to let the home work slip. It needs to be divided into reasonable size units and with assessment to reward the student as they complete the units.

But that said, it seemed to make sense to add 50% extra content to the course, to be delivered online and through student exercises. The exercises I had already prepared were far in excess of what was possible to do in the classroom and should be able to be expanded online.

The ANU is now setting up Flexible Learning Units in its Colleges, so I went along to see, Kim Blackmore, Coordinator of the Flexible Learning Unit for the
College of Engineering and Computer Science. Kim suggested looking at the way the courses are run for the ANU's Graduate Certificate in Australian Migration Law & Practice. Certificate is a good example, as it is run by the ANU College of Law, but is open to people without a legal background (usually people applying to be Migration Agents), as well as lawyers.

Students can choose either on-line teaching or face-to-face "intensive " classes in Melbourne or Sydney for the course. The ANU's Web CT system is used for delivery and on-line contact with tutor and other students. The courses are run several times a year.

An example of one of the courses is Australian Migration Law and MARA 1 (LAWS8167). The course uses written assignments, quizzes, case studies and simulated client interview and tribunal appearances (not sure how they do the client interviews online). There are two traditional printed paper text books for the course, as well as the online material. The course costs $2,100 for the 6-units (not including the textbooks). The same fee is charged for the online and intensive versions.

Curiously, there are few details of how the course is run, or even that is using online techniques. Given that universities are intensively competing for students and the ANU is seen as being a bit inflexible, I would have thought ANU would be wanting to showcase its flexible learning courses.

The ANU currently uses Web CT and I can look at how this was used for LAWS8167. But the university is planning to install a new Learning Management System (LMS), so it would make sense to prepare a new course using that. Hopefully Web CT will be replaced with an open source system, such as Moodle or Sakai.

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Monday, October 29, 2007

How to Create On-line University Courses in Electronic Archiving: Part 13 - How it Went

In Part 12 I looked at the first day of the course on Electronic Document Management course. Most of the problems with room setup were fixed for day two and day three went well.

The computer lab used had no dedicated instructor's workstation. On day one I had used my own laptop, but found that the different setup of software on it caused some confusion when demonstrating to the students. On day two I found that I could plug the video projector into one of the front row student workstations and (after lowering the screen resolution) use that as the instructors system. To allow me the freedom to move, I used a wireless keyboard and mouse, plugging the USB transceiver into the workstation (no problems with Linux).

This could be a very good arrangement to use for rooms which are only occasionally used for presentations. Instead of having one workstation dedicated full time to the instructor and thus unusable for students most of the time, one of the student machines could be used.

What could also be of use is a mobile lectern. This need not be as sophisticated as RSISE's triple boot lectern. The main point would be that the lectern could be placed where the instructor wants it and then moved out of the way when not needed. A wireless keyboard and mouse could be fixed to the podium and the USB transmitter and video plug attached to an available workstation. By not relying on a workstation in the podium, this would increase flexibility and ensure compatibility with the student machines.

Problems with Moodle on the first day were resolved on day two. The Moodle system provided very effective at administering an open book examination. The examination questions were supplied as a Moodle "assignment". The system was set to provide the examination and accept submissions during a set period. The examination was carried out in the room under supervision (not remotely). The students were instructed to copy the question sheet into the answer window and modify it to add their answers. This was done in preference to using Moodle's "quiz" facility as the student had no used that during the course and so would not be familiar with its use.

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Friday, October 26, 2007

How to Create On-line University Courses in Electronic Archiving: Part 12 - First Day

In Part 11 I looked at the first draft of the material for an Electronic Document Management course. The first four hours of the course was last night and overall it worked.

There were some difficulties with the physical layout of the room and equipment, which confirms my wish for designed flexible learning spaces. Having a room with the equipment in place and no doors to get locked out of by the security system would greatly improve efficiency.

The computer lab used is designed for individual students working each at a computer. While there is a projection screen at the front of the room there is no projector installed and no provision for placing one, nor for a presenter to present from. I improvised by standing the projector on a overhead projector trolley and my laptop on a cardboard box. The result was I was stuck in a dark corner of the room with the fan from the projector blowing hot air on me, while stopping my laptop from falling off the box. This should be sorted out for the next session.

Only one student had used Linux before, but none had difficulty logging in and starting the Firefox web browser. Once in the web browser they had few difficulties navigating the Moodle course ware system. One glitch was that some of the exercises were not opening the HTML editor to allow the students to type (this appears to be a problem with how I configured with Moodle student access). At that point I had the students work in groups with the working screens.

The students were far more reluctant to type exercise answers into the system than I have experienced with previous courses. This may be that as public servants they are reluctant to commit an opinion to writing, even when assured it is just a class exercise. As a result we used more discussion, and less typing, which worked well.

As expected there was far more content than the time allowed. I was difficult to choose which material to concentrate on, given the diverse backgrounds of the class.Three students are very inexperience in records management, working in senior capacities in major government agencies, one is working on e-archives and the others have less experience. What they all appeared to appreciate were learning about the details of Wikis, blogs and the details of thew web. The problem here is to retain the focus on business document use, rather than entertainment.

One aspect which worked well was the student access to the notes. The students opened the notes accompanying my screen slides and explored some of the links, while listening to presentations.

What might be useful for subsequent courses is to have part of it by distance education. The students might, for example, come for a one or two hour group class, then have the equivalent of eight hours of distance education, then another group session.

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Friday, October 19, 2007

How to Create On-line University Courses in Electronic Archiving: Part 11 - First Draft

In Part 10 I looked at requirements. Now I have incorporated that into a first draft of the course web site in Moodle. All are welcome to read and review the course, using "guest" access". The students expect a printed set of notes, so I copied and pasted the 12 units into to make 70 pages of notes (not including the exercises or reading material).

Electronic Document Management

By Tom Worthington FACS HLM

Module 2 of Systems Approach to the Management of Government Information, ANU, 2007

The Electronic Document Management course introduces two topics: metadata and data management (digital library, electronic document management). Use of the technology for practical e-commerce and e-publishing applications is emphasized using case studies and anecdotes drawing on the lecturer's experience.

Identifying steps that can be taken to accelerate the uptake of e-commerce by Australian small- and medium-sized enterprises, this course enables the participant to learn practical skills for incorporating e-commerce into their businesses.

This course is based on Tom Worthington's lectures on Metadata and Electronic Document Management for IT in e-Commerce (COMP3410/COMP6341) 2007.

Structure: The course is 12 hours in total spread over 3 days with 4 teaching hours per day. The course consists of 6 hours of lectures, 2 hours of practical classes, 2 hours of tutorials and 2 hours of assessment exercises.

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Tuesday, October 16, 2007

How to Create On-line University Courses in Electronic Archiving: Part 10 - Requirements

In Part 9 I looked at how to turn eight exsiting units in Electronic Document Management. into twelve new ones.

In the first unit I thought the introduction should cover legal and administrative requirements: essentially the why of EDM, before getting into the how. Some useful reference materials are:
  • Report on recordkeeping in the Australian Public Service
  • Improving Electronic Document Management - Guidelines For Australian Government Agencies
  • Records management - Why records matter- National Archives of Australia
  • Management of Electronic Records - Victorian Electronic Records Strategy (VERS)
  • RMAA Professional Status Guidelines
  • Model requirements for the management of electronic records (MoReq)
  • DoD Electronic Records Management Software Applications Design Criteria Standard
Some of this is a little frustrating. As an example NAA are offering "Check-up: A Tool for Assessing your Agency’s Information and Records Management". However, this is only available to Australian Government agencies, as a result it can't be used for educational purposes, even for in teaching potential users of the tool.

To divide up the material I thought I would start with the skills identified by the RMAA:
  1. Legislation, standards, administrative policies and procedures
  2. Compliance auditing
  3. Archival Science
  4. Recordkeeping Ethics
  5. Classification
  6. Metadata
  7. Recordkeeping Systems: DIRKS (Designing & Implementing of Recordkeeping Systems) or VERS (VictorianElectronic Recordkeeping Strategy)
  8. Record creation and Capture
  9. Storage and maintenance of records
  10. Vital Records
  11. Business Continuation Plan / Disaster Response / Recovery Plan/Risk Management
  12. Access to records: Security, Privacy, FOI, Access determinations
  13. Appraisal and Disposal
Concentrating on those aspects most relevant to EDM:
  1. Legislation, standards, administrative policies and procedures
  2. Classification and Metadata
  3. Recordkeeping Systems: VERS (VictorianElectronic Recordkeeping Strategy)
  4. Record creation and Capture
  5. Storage and maintenance of records: Vital Records;Business Continuation Plan / Disaster Response / Recovery Plan/Risk Management
  6. Access to records: Security, Privacy, FOI, Access determinations; Appraisal and Disposal
Adding some extra topics:
  1. Digital Library and E-Publishing
  2. Basic Web technologies: HTML, XHTML, CSS, XML
  3. Web publishing: Document Formats, RSS, Podcasting, Wikis
  4. Advanced Web technologies: XSLT, Web Services
  5. eGovernment/ eCommerce,
  6. Search engines: e-discovery
  7. The Future
Blending these together:
  1. Legislation, standards, administrative policies and procedures
  2. Record creation and Capture
  3. Basic Web technologies: HTML, XHTML, CSS, XML
  4. Classification, Metadata and Search engines: e-discovery
  5. Recordkeeping Systems: VERS (Victorian Electronic Recordkeeping Strategy) and NAA e-Archive
  6. Digital Library and E-Publishing
  7. Storage and maintenance of records: Vital Records;Business Continuation Plan / Disaster Response / Recovery Plan/Risk Management
  8. Access to records: Security, Privacy, FOI, Access determinations; Appraisal and Disposal
  9. Web publishing: Document Formats, RSS, Podcasting, Wikis
  10. Advanced Web technologies: XSLT, Web Services
  11. eGovernment/ eCommerce,
  12. Advanced applications: EDM for mobile and emergency applications

One interesting item I came across was the Attorney-General's speech at the E-Discovery 2007 Conference, 26 September 2007

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Friday, October 12, 2007

How to Create On-line University Courses in Electronic Archiving: Part 9 - Units

In Part 8 I looked at how to repackage traditional lectures, tutorials and labs for flexible learning. Now I am thinking about what are the 12 units for Electronic Document Management. What I have to start with are six one hour lectures, two one hour tutorial/labs and several assignment questions. In fact the lecture notes do not divide up neatly into the six notional lecture slots, but are in eight units:
  1. Introduction
  2. Metadata
  3. Standards for eCommerce
  4. E-commerce Examples
  5. Electronic Document Management
  6. Digital Library
  7. Publishing
  8. Future Use
In addition, the National Archives of Australia recently changed their web site, with a simplified description of records management, similar to the style introduced by AGIMO with their Web Publishing Guide. With this approach there is a short web page with a few key points in non-technical direct language.
Records management
The reader is then directed to the detailed technical guides. These guides appear to have been changed from the previous HTML versions to PDF and Microsoft Word documents, which is unfortunate. The HTML documents were easy to read and refer to online. The PDF and DOC versions are a step backwards to a much harder to read and use format.

This change happened just as I was preparing to present the material to ANU students. As a stopgap measure I changed links in the notes to refer to an archived version of the material at the Internet Archive. But I now need to redo all the links to the new version. It is not clear how I am going to point to material which is now somewhere in the middle of hundreds of pages of PDF.

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How to Create On-line University Courses in Electronic Archiving: Part 8 - Lectures?

In Part 7 I looked at how provide course notes in a web friendly fashion. Now I am thinking about how to take the one hour lectures and make them into smaller units suitable for small group teaching. The approach at the MIT TEAL flexible learning center has been to use "... 20-minute lectures interspersed with discussion questions, visualizations, and pencil-and-paper exercises ...". This agrees with advice from Flinders University which suggests changing the pace, medium, or importance of the material every fifteen minutes.

The course is 12 hours in total spread over 3 days with 4 teaching hours per day, with 6 hours of lectures, 2 hours of practical classes, 2 hours of tutorials and 2 hours of assessment exercises. So I started to divide this up into units of 15, 20 or 30 minute units. The idea being each unit would be self contained and of the same length. However, this would result in a very large number of units:, if 20 minute units were used:
  • 18 lecture units (6 per day)
  • 6 Practical sessions (2 per day)
  • 6 tutorials
  • 6 assessment exercises
That would make for a timetabling nightmare. My experience of short course plans is has been from courses for local government staff and museum staff in Samoa is that an overly complex plan does not survive more than the first few minutes. Also it would be useful if the units of instruction would fit into the usual university format.

The MIT Teal material is divided into one or two hour blocks, made up of the 20-minute lectures, discussion, exercises and assessment. I was disappointed not to find any guidelines for the instructors on how to prepare and deliver a block, but I did find some criticisms from students of the early versions of the TEAL delivery. From this it would seem to make sense to structure the content more like traditional delivery.. The ANU uses one hour units of instruction, so it would make sense to use either one or two hour blocks, with the content of mini lectures, tutorials and labs. This also makes the timetabling easier.

So now I plan 12 one hour units, each with a 20 minute lecture, plus a discussion/tutorial, practical session, and/or assessment exercise. This format differs from that being used by Peter Christen for his Data Mining and Matching module. That has Six lecture sessions and four practical sessions. This is a more traditional format, also with a change of venue between a small presentation room and computer lab.

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Wednesday, July 25, 2007

How to Create On-line University Courses in Electronic Archiving: Part 7 - Notes?

In Part 6 I looked at Moodle in more detail as an example of a CMS. But one of the practical realities of a course is that you have to tell the students what the course is about. The usual method for doing this would be to provide them a set of printed notes (commonly known as a "brick").

Usually the notes for courses are in the form of some introductory text, printed versions of the Powerpoint slides and some readings. But produing this material for printing can be remarkably difficult. While it is possible to print handouts from Microsoft Powerpoint, there does not seem to be any efficient and easy way to incorporate this with a word processing document. The same seems to apply with the OpenOffice word processor and slide program.

You can insert a whole slide presentation as an object into a word processing document , but then you just see an image of the first slide (or in MS Word one selected slide). If you want all slides to appear in the WP document, you appear to need to insert each slide, one by one.

A better option may be not to. While compound documents are feasible, something always seems to go wrong at the last minute, when the final version is due at the printer, but someone wants to change something on one slide and then the formatting of the whole document goes haywire.

A better approach might be to accept the limitations of the software (and our ability to handle complex arrangements of information) and simply arrange the document as a sequence of pages from different software packages. Usually this would be a word processing document with the introductory text, followed by the slides and then possible a web page with some references. This could be simply done by manually printing each document from the appropriate program, or using some sort of automation and desk top publishing.

But first two other potions should be considered:

  1. Don't use printed notes: Use an online course management system
  2. Course Content Genrator: Use specialist software for course notes.


According to the Microsoft documentation, you should be able to link to each Powerpoint slide from within the word processing document. See: "Insert a linked object or embedded object from a PowerPoint presentation". You would have to do this once for each and every slide, but when done any changes to the slides can be automatically be reflected in the document with "Update linked objects".

Note that you need to use the "linked" option, otherwise you will be creating lots of "embedded" copies of the Powerpoint slides.

As far as I can tell OpenOffice allows similar linked objects, but not selecting a specific slide (you always see the first slide).


An option is to not have any printed notes at all. For the course I ran for local government staff, all the notes were online. All that was provided on paper was a one page timetable for the course. The students were able to look at the notes on the screen in the classroom and on the web (using a password) when they got back to the office. I used the Moodle Course Management System, but others, such as Web CT could be used.


USQ's "ICE" system is specifically designed to prepare content for courses. This allows the slides to be created inside the word processing document, without the need for Powerpoint. But that requires redoing all the slides for an existing course. ANU is working on more general purpose systems based on ICE.

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Monday, February 05, 2007

How to Create On-line University Courses in Electronic Archiving: Part 6 - More on Moodle

In Part 5 I looked at Moodle as an example of a CMS. Some of the issues of pedagogy for an online course are covered in Doherty, C. (2005). Understanding trouble in paradise: Intuitive natives and
screaming aliens
. A paper presented to the OLT 2005 Conference, QUT, Brisbane, 71-80.

Heres is more detail on Moodle as an application. I mentioned that Moodle should be usable on small screen and smart phones without many changes . I was able to get it work okay on Opera web browser in small screen mode (this emulates a PDA type device), but on with the Openwave SDK Mobile hone emulator. The web pages displayed on the mobile phone, but each column of text was squashed to fit on the small screen and so was unreadable.

The Moodle team need to install an alternate CSS style sheet for mobile devices, to tell the web browser to use just one column (this is what the Opera browser does for its small screen mode).

Leaving that to one side, a good way to see if the advocates believe what they are saying is to see if they use their own tools. So I tried the Moodle Features Demo Course. The is a Moodle course to show off the features of Moodle.

The course first presents you with a typical three column screen. The screen is a bit too busy for my tastes, but that may be because the designer is trying to show off all the features of Moodle in one place, or perhaps because this the page the student will keep coming back to. I found a box offering to enroll me, so I clicked on it and was then presented with a "Topic outline", equivalent to about one A4 page of text (which is not too big).

What I found disappointing was that the course gets immediately into the details of Site, User and Course management. The stuff about the philosophy has been left behind and there doesn't;seem to be anything about how or why to prepare a course.

Interestingly there were 975 people enrolled in the course, 14 of whom had used it in the last 24 hours and four of who were in Canberra (including me). I noticed that participants had Blog entries to introduce themselves, so I created one. The Blog function uses a web based editor, much the same as ones used for other Blogs. This worked fine, even on my slow (64 kbps) wireless link.

While providing a Blog and user profile is useful in getting the students to get to know each other, there is also a danger they will say too much. Participants in courses need to keep in mind that they cannot entirely trust their fellow students and should not reveal too much.

The demo course has a "news" forum. This had nothing in it, but would be typically used for course announcements. There are also "Learning forums" for group discussions . The forums can have RSS feeds, making it easier for the students to keep up with developments. In the past I have found such on-line forums a bit overwhelming. Moodle has options such as allowing each student only one discussion topic, to stem the flood.

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Wednesday, January 10, 2007

How to Create On-line University Courses in Electronic Archiving: Part 5 - On-line Courseware

In Part 4 I discussed if e-records as part of decision making in eGovernment and eBusiness. The program of courses entitled "System Approach to Management of Government Information" are now being offered, so I tought I should look at tidying up my content to get ready.

One option I would like to try is using a course management system (CMS). Not because the students will be studying on-line remotely, they will be on the campus at live sessions, but because it might be a useful way to make sure the material is well structured.

The Moodle product looks like a good option; it is Australian developed, free Open Source, and people keep mentioning it to me. The ACS use it for their new Computer Professional Educational Program and appears to be going well (thankfully as I am in charge of Professional Development at the ACS as of 1 January 2007).

The Moodle people claim it is based on "sound pedagogical principles", specifically "social constructionist pedagogy". Which they say involves: Constructivism, Constructionism, Social Constructivism, Connected and Separate.

Constructivism says you have to integrate what you are learning into what you already know. Constructionism says you learn better if you have to do something with the knowledge. For example I am writing this as I read about Moodle and so I am learning by having to write about it. Social Constructivism is about a group assembling ideas. As an example when people respond to what I have written and suggest changes. Connected and Separate is about understand the person's other point of view versus being "right": people will point out spelling errors in what I wrote (Separate) and others will suggest better ways to word it (Connected).

I am not sure how widely accepted these concepts are (it is all new to me), but it seems these are really two ideas: Learning through doing and working together.

Most computer based learning systems seem to be designed to support an isolated individual learning "facts". This would be Separate non-Constructivism in Moodles' language.

With that out of the way, lets look at Moodle, the software. It is released under a GNU General Public License, so it can be freely used and modified (free as in beer and speech). It is written in PHP and requires an SQL database to hold the content.

There are roles defined for admin, course creators, teachers , non-editing teachers (ie: adjuncts and tutors) and students. Moodle uses much the same software and philosophy as Open Journal Systems for e-publishing. There the roles are administrators, editors, reviewers and readers.

CMS systems are mostly about administering a course, not creating learning content. The CMS is used to keep track of the students, learning materials and activities (such as assignments). They are not about creating the actual materials the students read. This is much the same as e-publishing systems don't help you write a document, just publish it.

The current release of Moodle was 1.7, but Version 1.8 is just out (January 2007). This is supposed to have improved web accessibility features. They are specifically aiming for compliance with Italian Legislation on Accessibility. I am not exactly sure what that legislation covers, but it is likely to be much the same as Australian requirements under the Disability Discrimination Act and involve use of the W3C WAG, as used worldwide.

The Moodle developers are also aiming to implement XHTML Strict (after some debate). Use of XHTML Strict will help with accessibility and make for very clean and efficient web pages. It should also make it possible to use them on hand held devices, such as my proposed learning PC for developing nations and for different languages.

There is a Wiki with extensive documentation about using Moodle. Each Moodle course created has a course homepage, which is the place the students first come to. The home page has a typical Wiki style with blocks of mostly text laid out in columns.

The course can be formed of sections, usually in an order which the students work their way through (each week for example). Moodle has its own web based editor, including a "Clean Word HTML button" to remove extranious code from HTML which has been generated by Microsoft Word.

A course consists of essentially of resources and activities. A resource will typically be a web page with some content on it, a link to some content web based content somewhere else. At this point you realize the CMS doesn't write the course for you: the actual content you are teaching has to be somewhere. It might be on web pages, in PDF documents, or Powerpoint slides.

The content might be in an IMS content package. This is a standard format for learning content which is also supported by other CMS systems such as Web CT. An IMS Content Package is a Zipped directory of XML files, much like the OpenXML and Open Office word processing formats.

Exactly how you create a package, (with Moodle?) or how standardized they are between different CMS systems I am not yet clear on. But it appears to work as the government funded Australian Flexible Learning Framework has dozens of IMS content packaged learning objects in its Flexible Learning Toolboxes. These can be previewed online.

There are a bewildering array of standards underlying these systems, most of which the user never has to know about. As an example IMS uses a different metadata format to describe its learning objects to the IEEE Standard for Learning Object Metadata IEEE Std 1484.12.1-2002 (which I get a mention in, as I was on the balloting group). So IMS provide a set of Guidelines for Using the IMS LRM to IEEE LOM 1.0 Transform
to turn IMS metedata into IEEE metadata using XSLT transformations.

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Friday, November 24, 2006

How to Create On-line University Courses in Electronic Archiving: Part 4 - Is it part of decision making?

In Part 3 I had a quick look to see if any ANU courses had content on electronic records/archives management and found some with some relevance. But I wonder if this goes far enough in addressing the overall problem.

When teaching e-Document management and e-Archiving to the ANU students, I have a lot of difficulty keeping them interested. Similarly, the worthy reports on the subject I helped produce as a public servant, were not that exciting to my public service colleagues. The problem is that record keeping is a very dull topic, until something goes horribly wrong. An example what can go wrong is shown by the Oil-For-Food Inquiry.

Perhaps consideration should be given to teaching more on e-records as part of decision making in eGovernment and eBusiness. The emphasis would be on how you can use electronic systems to run a government or business, with record keeping to support that, not keeping records for the sake of keeping records.

An example of how this approach could help is with electronic mail. NAA have advised agencies that electronic mail messages can contain important evidence and must be preserved. However, this advice is mostly ignored. The staff of the AWB may well got to jail as a consequence of treating email as ephemeral, with copies of embarrassing messages they thought deleted being exhibited in the hearing.

An example of a system for handling a decision making process which incorporates record keeping is the publishing system I have helped install for ACS academic journals. We have switched on the option to record all correspondence between the editors, reviewers and authors. This was so we could keep track of correspondence in the event of an error or deliberate fraud. But it may prove useful in convincing DEST that the publications are rigorously refereed and high quality.

ps: Last week I was elected Director of the Professional Development Board of the ACS. The ACS runs on-line postgraduate and short training courses for IT professionals. There may be scope for ACS to provide some e-document courses for IT professionals who have to incorporate it in systems.

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Wednesday, November 08, 2006

How to Create On-line University Courses in Electronic Archiving: Part 3 - What does ANU offer?

Following on from Part 2 - What else is out there?, I had a quick look to see if any ANU courses had content on electronic records/archives management. Apart from my own lectures I couldn't find any.

Some courses which have relevant content and might be used in a Graduate Certificate (made up of three to four courses) or a Graduate Diploma (made up of six to eight courses) were:
  1. COMP1130 Data Structures and Algorithms I
  2. COMP1710 Tools for New Media & the Web
  3. COMP2410 Networked Information Systems
  4. COMP3410 Information Technology in Electronic Commerce
  5. COMP3420 Advanced Databases and Data Mining
  6. COMP3760 Project Work in Information Systems
  7. COMP6442 Software Construction for eScience
  8. SRES2015 Introduction to Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems
  9. INFS1001 Foundations of Electronic Commerce and Information Systems
  10. INFS2024 Information Systems Analysis
  11. INFS3024 Information Systems Management
  12. INFS7003 Databases and Information Systems
  13. INFS7006 Information Systems And Communication Technologies
  14. INFS7007 Information Systems Analysis and Modelling
  15. INFS8004 Information Systems Management in Organisations
  16. INFS8205 Strategic Information Systems
For the purposes of short in-service training these courses would be each divided into 2 or 3 "modules", which could be undertaken individually.

Added to this would need to be new modules specifically on the problem area.

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How to Create On-line University Courses in Electronic Archiving: Part 2 - What else is out there?

Following on from Part 1 - Why?, I had a quick look around to see what courses there were on e-arching and records management. Several people also make useful suggestions.

What I found was that Monash University seemed to be most active in this area, along with the TAFEs and some US content. What this tells me is that there is some university material for records management professionals and a lot of vocational material for business people. There is US material orientation to public service records management. But there wasn't anything I could find aimed at Australian government needs nor for senior executives.

Monash: MIS5906 Advanced Topics in Electronic Recordkeeping and Archiving ( 6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL) Postgraduate (IT)
Synopsis: This unit is designed to provide students with an in-depth understanding and knowledge of the role of electronic recordkeeping and archiving in contemporary organisations and society, and exposure to the latest thinking, best practice and research initiatives. Emphasis will be placed on exploring key issues, challenges, and trends relating to the effective management of records and archives in electronic, networked environments. Students will be equipped with understandings, knowledge, strategies, and skills, which will enable them to develop and implement effective solutions that meet these challenges, and also plan for the future.

Assessment: Publishable paper: 40% Class presentation: 20% Supervised assessment: 40%

Contact Hours: 3 contact hours per week

Prerequisites: Must have completed Part A of Master of Information Systems
IMS5033 Electronic document management and recordkeeping systems ( 6 points, SCA Band 2, 0.125 EFTSL) Postgraduate (IT)
Synopsis: This unit reconceptualises document management activities so that modern technologies can be better used to implement electronic recordkeeping solutions. The emphasis is upon designing, building, and using document management systems. Existing physical models for document management and systems are compared and contrasted with logical models and future architectures. Research into workplace applications and leading edge implementation of recordkeeping strategies for document management will be covered and shape the course.

Assessment: Assignments: 50% + Formal Supervised Assessment: 50%

Contact Hours: 3 hours per week
OLI TAFE " BSB30401 Certificate III in Business (Recordkeeping)"
This qualification allows students to work in a wide range of Recordkeeping activities within business sections in an organisation. It includes medium to higher-level key business skills required by organisations who are responding to rapidly changing business environments.
ATPL: "BSB01 Business Services Training Package" V4 (Volume 3):
Volume 3 contains units of competency for: - Record Keeping

Certificate III

BSBRKG301A Control records
BSBRKG302A Undertake disposal
BSBRKG303A Retrieve information from records
BSBRKG304A Maintain business records

Certificate IV

BSBRKG401A Review the status of a record
BSBRKG402A Provide information from and about records
BSBRKG403A Set up a business or records system for a small office
BSBEBUS406A Monitor and maintain records in an online environment


BSBRKG501A Determine business or records system specifications
BSBRKG502A Manage and monitor business or records systems
BSBRKG503A Develop and maintain a classification scheme
BSBRKG504A Develop terminology for activities and records
BSBRKG505A Document or reconstruct a business or records system

Advanced Diploma

BSBRKG601A Define recordkeeping framework
BSBRKG602A Develop recordkeeping policy
BSBRKG603A Prepare a functional analysis for an organisation
BSBRKG604A Determine security and access rules and procedures
BSBRKG605A Determine records requirements to document a function
BSBRKG606A Design a records retention and disposal schedule
BSBRKG607A Document and monitor the record-creating context
BSBRKG608A Plan management of records over time
Utexas: 2003 LIS 389C.14 Introduction to Electronic and Digital Records
The management, preservation, and use of electronic records and other digital objects with enduring value are all as yet problems with only partial solutions. There are two reasons for this: the supporting technologies are changing constantly and change is accelerating; and creators and users of these records (if not the records’ potential managers and preservers) are themselves caught up in a culture of immediacy that makes the problems with electronic records invisible until some legal entanglement brings them into sharp focus. Yet as governments and other human institutions have depended upon technologies of memory to assure their longevity in the past, it is a safe bet that they will continue to do so in the future. For that reason these problems must and will be solved by those who are charged with the custody and preservation of such records, at least in a way that will be good enough to achieve the ends of the institutions in question.

School of Information and Library Science, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill, INLS 165 ­ Electronic Records Management, [Last Updated: 2006-04-13, 20:30]
COURSE DESCRIPTION The management and preservation of electronic records is essential for maintaining institutional accountability; protecting the rights of citizens, employees and customers; supporting the efficient operation of contemporary organizations; perpetuating valuable forms of social memory; and helping individuals to integrate aspects of the past into their sense of identity.

Current electronic recordkeeping is in a state of relative neglect. At their most basic level, electronic records problems are related to proper configuration and management of computer components (hardware and software). The good news is that actual and potential solutions to the technological issues abound. The bad news is that the behavioral, organizational, institutional and professional underpinnings are generally not yet in place to implement the technological solutions. This places a profound set of challenges and opportunities in the hands of SILS students about to enter the workforce.

In this course, we will begin by consider the messy recordkeeping environment in which we currently live. We will then gradually build up a set of concepts, tools and strategies that information professionals can use to help shape more appropriate, valuable and sustainable recordkeeping systems.

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Monday, November 06, 2006

How to Create On-line University Courses in Electronic Archiving: Part 1 - Why?

In October 2006 the Australian National Audit Office (ANAO) released a report on recordkeeping in government agencies. This found problems, particularly with electronic records, as had two previous reports. The ANAO recommended training in recordkeeping. As I give lectures in electronic document management at the Australian National University (ANU), I have been asked to help create new courses for agencies.

Also of relevance is work by the Australian Public Service Commission and the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) obtaining sufficient skilled staff for the Australian Public Service. Cadetships and apprentice schemes to train new public servants could incorporate the electronic document management material. Those for IT professionals could include more technical content.

This the first of a series of notes intended to document the process. Please note that these are not an official record, nor do they represent a commitment by any organization to conduct a course. Comments, corrections and contributions would be welcome.

The Content

As the ANAO report noted, there is no shortage of material to work from, with Australian government agencies issuing legislation, standards, policies and guidance on recordkeeping.

There are guidelines issued by the National Archives of Australia (NAA) for records handling. NAA also helped develop the Australian and International standards in this field. NAA's also distributed open source software for e-archiving called "Xena" and an electronic arching system.

Previously, as a public servant, I chaired the committee which prepared "Electronic Document Management: Guidelines for Australian Government Agencies". This is used in the ANU course "Information Technology in Electronic Commerce" COMP3410/COMP634. There is also relevant material on web site design in "Networked Information Systems" (COMP2410 / COMP6340). However, these courses are intended for IT specialists who develop software for records management. More suited may be material prepared for a five day workshop for staff from museums of the Pacific Islands Region.

The Technology

The intention is to run the courses as conventional small classroom events. However, it seems reasonable to prepare the courses so they could be easily adapted for on-line distance education, if needed. This could use course preparation systems such as the Integrated Content Environment (ICE), an on-line course management system, such as Moodle and Podcasting. Also an open access license, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs, can be used. This will allow the content creators to prepare and distribute their material for comment, while retaining commercial rights to use it in a course.

On-line delivery may be provided in unconventional ways, such as to Blackberry and other smartphones/PDAs issued to senior executives. This could deliver on-demand training in very small units, as required.

The Process

The intention is to create short in-service courses for use by staff of government agencies and others who need knowledge of e-records management. However, the material may latter be used for a full university course. It therefore seemed prudent to first look at the formal guidance and requirements for a course. This proved to be much easier than expected. A web search of "ANU Course Proposal" found "The ANU Official Course and Program Proposals Site". This contains links to detailed procedures for new courses, forms to be used and examples.

The ANU course web site is publicly available. the procedures page has an overview of the process is provided, complete with flowcharts. Whoever prepared it clearly has a sense of humor; including a reproduction of Munch's "The Scream". But at this stage I only need to worry about the first step: "First draft of the proposal: Course proponent proposes and designs draft for a new course in consultation with the relevant academic area according to that academic area'’s internal procedures. This is usually done by a lecturer at a school/departmental level. ...'.

Some books:

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