SAM Steering Group

Minutes of Meeting held on Wednesday 22 January 2003

Attending: John Buckett, Emma Baker, Ray Burnley, Tony Davey, Gisela Fischer, Barbara Powell, Kerensa Pearson, Elizabeth Stewart, Anna Verhamme, Keith Zimmerman and Caroline Innalls

  1. Apologies for Absence

    Sue Brooks and Stevie Woodley.

  2. Minutes of Previous Meeting held on 6 November 2002

    Minutes approved.

  3. Matters Arising

    JB to chase up issuing of invoices for SAM payments from Schools. Continuing Action: JB

    Feedback from Exam Period: It was suggested at the last meeting that RB liase with Emma Baker, regarding a solution to final year weighting. AV reported back to this meeting that during the pilot school phase, they successfully calculated the award classification for a Combined programme without any reference to pathways in SITS. This has now been resolved. [Release SAM3 A.53 addresses the issue of CH Programmes with a School Parity exam board report]

    SAM Funding for Next Year: It had been reported at the last meeting that the Institute of Arabic & Islamic Studies might be interested in becoming a SAM3 user School. As SAM is coming to an end soon, it was agreed that it would not be sensible to do so at this stage.

  4. Feedback on Current Issues/Problems with SAM

    Due to pre Christmas confusion RB released a version of SAM3 with missing code relating to Personal Tutor (PT) handling. This had contributed to non-synchronisation of Student PTís and PT Groups. A data cleansing operation was underway and the missing code was being reinstated. PT Synchronisation will be fixed soon. Action: RB

  5. Comparison of SAM and SITS Functionality

    At the recent SAM/SITS Strategy meeting RB was asked to produce a report on SAM3 Functionality and how that functionality mapped onto SITS. The production of the report is ongoing. The report as a Draft/Work-in-Progress is located at the SAM3 website <http://www.ex.ac.uk/sam3/> under the link SAM3 Functionality Audit. EB was keen that misconceptions of SITS functionality where not propagated by the report. RB replied that the report already had a statement to the effect that any comments regarding SITS would be verified by a SITS expert, and that the report is a constructive exercise not a criticism of SITS.

    It had been decided at the last meeting to offer an invitation to a School Administrator from a School that had moved from SAM3 to SITS in Phase 3. Tony Davey from Biological Sciences was kind enough to attend and offer observations on the transition.

    TD reported to the group that he is fairly happy with the functionality and that when he needed assistance the Exams Office staff and AV where very helpful. EB stressed that with more people starting to use SITS, we need to have a more formalised helpdesk procedure. It was confirmed that we do have some sort of helpdesk system which will be expanded.

    TD noted that he sometimes found the navigation of screen menus and forms confusing, particularly as SAM3 was so easy to use. SITS had many more data categories than SAM3 and expected it would be more powerful for analytical work. He was still finding his way around the various SITS reports and that the exam board reports where very like the SAM3 reports (on which they were based). TD and EB noted that reports created by or for individual Schools were available to other Schools via a library of reports.

    The idea of running SAM3 and SITS in parallel for a transitional period had been discussed at previous Steering Group meetings. TD suggested that this is not practical with the consequent requirement of double entry of data. RB reiterated that it would be technically feasible, with some development, to reconfigure SAM3 so that it became read-only for SITS equivalent data, taking nightly downloads from SITS to refresh that data.

    In conclusion, TD noted that the transition was going well but that he was having to do lots of testing.

    GF pointed out that the classification displayed on the SITS exam board reports dropped the decimal point for division 2 classes, 2.1 read as 21 and 2.2 as 22. All agreed that although this seemed a trivial point such things often lead to lengthy, inappropriate discussions in exam board meetings. AV agreed to look at the problem. Action: AV

  6. Life after SITS Phase 4:
    Feedback from SAM/SITS Strategy Meeting of 21 November 2002

    It was reported that Geography are using a Web-based system to enable their students to choose modules. The data is entered, and then loaded into SITS via SAM. It was agreed that this be discussed outside the meeting, to perhaps investigate and see if it is worth pursuing. RB will talk to Geography about how their web form works, and will e-mail back to the group. Action: RB

    The SAM/SITS meeting which took place on 21 November was about overall strategy. It stressed the importance of planning the transition and to recognise that the continuing development of SAM was useful in ascertaining the requirements of SITS.

    EB ran through some of the key issues outlined in the meeting:

    Module Descriptors: SITS currently holds module information but not the approved descriptors. The data is owned and maintained by individual Schools. Publishing of a module via the web from SITS is only possible when E:vision is fully implemented.

    Scheduling system: The scheduling functionality has not yet been assessed in SITS. Need to investigate whether this can be dealt with in Scientia, and also if there is an interface where changes in SITS are automatically updated in Scientia. EB to pass on to Rob Weston (timetabling office) and then speak to KZ. Action: EB/KZ

    Module/Programming Evaluation: to be investigated outside of SITS.

    E:vision: A pilot version of E:vision (a web module for student data), for students registering on-line 2003-04, will be run. There will be a meeting sometime in March regarding the functionality.

    Phase 4: Appropriate training needs to be scheduled. A meeting has been arranged with Phase 4 Schools for 12 March, 9:30am - 12:30pm in Committee Room A.

  7. Technical/Developer Documentation

    RB has started to produce some Technical/Developer documentation for SAM3. When complete, he will put it on the Web; it will be username/password access only. [see Developers Notes link on the SAM3 website as above] Continuing Action: RB

  8. Proposed SAM Developments

    IT was reported that RB would freeze SAM developments and work on SAM/SITS transition

  9. Any Other Business

    Nothing to report.

  10. Date of Next Meeting

    Wednesday 9 July, 12pm - a post-exams meeting to bid farewell to SAM!

______________________________________________________ web-published: R.D.Burnley 25-Feb-2003