Solutions for the automatic synchronisation and exchange of student data across institutions was the focus of a three day meeting between various key European groups involved in academic data mobility, held on 13-15 December at the University of Malaga.
The need to broaden lines of communication to encompass the developer, research network and campus communities prompted participants from TERENA's two middleware-oriented taskforces, on Mobility and Network Middleware (TF-MNM) and on European Middleware Coordination and Collaboration (TF-EMC2), from EUNIS's coordinated Rome Students Systems and Standards Group (RS3G) and from the European Association of International Education (EAIE) task force on Digital Student Data Portability (DSDP) to meet and unify their efforts in this area. During the meeting, they agreed to develop a pan-European system that will allow data on students' enrolment and grades to be exchanged between institutions in an interoperable way, regardless of the student information systems used.
European students already move around Europe for their studies, to participate in projects or to pursue complementary courses at different universities. However, transferring data related to the students' participation at the visited institution is a manual and laborious process.
To help solve this problem, architects, developers and representatives from key campus student information system consortia agreed to create a solution that would seamlessly transfer all relevant data on enrolment and grading between a student's home institution and the visited institution. Participants include representatives from MUCI (Poland), CINECA (Italy), SIGMA (Spain), LADOK (Sweden), FS (Norway), HIS (Germany), Oodi (Finland). Academic data mobility is also of interest to TF-EMC2, since it is the subject of one of its work items, which focuses on data aggregation and mobility between compatible and competing campus information systems.
At the Malaga meeting this group heard a proposal from MUCI to expand its student information system collaboratively. Each participating country has been asked to create example data to test whether it can be exchanged between their systems and the Polish system. By doing so, they can determine which modifications need to be made to the Polish system so that it be used on a Pan-European basis. The specifications of the system will then be updated accordingly; other institutions will then be able to use the code or develop their own.
A follow-up event, scheduled tentatively for March 2011, will focus on architecture and interoperability issues. To be able to attend the March event, participants are expected to create test data for their country, deploy the demo system, and test the interoperability between their system and those of other countries.