Notes from Meeting #1 oftheTranscript Exchange

Notes from Meeting #1 of the Transcript Exchange Task Force
August 19, 2008
Attending: Robert Ruf (C), Jennifer Lee, Maggie Hartley, Greg Link, Warren Stokes,
Tony Patrick, Alan McMillan, and Elfie Sizeland. Guests from Alberta (attending by
phone) Grant Cheney and Stephen Brown
Regrets: Cathy Carson
After a review of the steps that led to forming the group the consensus was the following
statement for what the project would accomplish:
“Enable students to authorize schools to release and receive electronic transcripts.”
Discussion led to several common points of agreement:
1) A trusted hub-spoke model makes the most sense using the PEN as the primary
2) Design should avoid the EDI requirement for signed school-to-school agreements
3) The recommended model should strive to be revenue neutral and schools should
not be told to change their business processes
4) Provide echo responses to users to confirm transcript sent and transcript received
5) Hub should provide transcript exchange status for students applying to multiple
6) A hyper-link is needed to enable the project goal so that students can authorize a
transcript exchange at any time
7) Transcript format must be easily readable and convertible to other formats
8) There are multiple uses for transcripts within and outside schools
9) Students need the option to order their transcripts directly from the schools they
attended or from the Hub itself
10) A widget concept for this makes sense because of the variety of front-end
business processes
11) The widget, “plug and play approach” would enable schools to connect into any
web service and would show status, acknowledge order, confirm date for
transaction, confirm sent & received, check eligibility for service (ie. in debt or
otherwise flagged as ineligible). All widgets would display similar content.
12) Each school’s admission business practices are respected such as the job of
matching transcript with application
13) The BCRA should be asked whether they want to vet each transcript before it is
14) Consider the use of the Camosun International Form routing process for the
transcript exchange so transcripts can be directed to the Scholarship Office or to
Graduate Studies or a specific faculty
15) Hub should use SOA as a store-and–forward router to push the data and persevere
16) Hub should manage getting the message to students when systems crash
17) The new Banner transcript exchange feature should be examined as a step in the
Task Force process
18) A later phase should accommodate CE or not-for credit transcripts which are
being used more and more.
The guests from the Alberta Provincial Application Service described their model
which is being pilot tested in the Fall. APAS is like PASBC in that is a centralized
application service for a province with 21 schools that exist in a similar transfer
system of post secondary education.
Some significant differences do exist between the BC and Alberta services. APAS
was mandated; all schools had to participate whereas PASBC is voluntary. In a
couple of years the schools will finance APAS. APAS is a not-for-profit society.
Grant and Stephen focused their comments on the XML transcript exchange model
chosen for APAS. They said the added-value to the Alberta project was the transcript
transaction. They said it needed a common security system using a key ID number
and that the goal was for as seamless a process as possible for students.
When it became apparent that the more seamless it became the more it cost the
implementation team focused on core goals that included:
1) Cradle to grave ID security via an Alberta Student number is available easily
instantly and can be integrated with Financial Aid and the application form
2) Transcript exchange was tied to the application process and added to the original
3) Student ability to authorize collection and release of their transcript
4) Collection of demographic and program specific information
5) Use of a Hub-as-Post Office model that schools use to translate transcripts
6) Attached to the transcript is a style sheet which includes the sorts of notes found
on the back of transcripts
7) Data flows through the Hub
The APAS team endorsed the idea of a “toolkit” that would handle transcript exchange
outside the application process. The customizable tools are written in Java and the service
is PESC standard compliant.
Alberta desired an efficient business model so there is no fee for students. Advanced Ed
pays the Ministry of Ed for high schools transcripts (where students currently pay). Post
secondary schools rolled the transcript fee into their application fee or some other student
service fee. By 2010 the Alberta post secondary schools will pay for APAS, the cost per
institution is still to be determined.
The Alberta project team described transcript processing as much more of an art as a
science. With so many business values and so many rules one size does not fit all. So an
early conclusion was to deliver the transcript and leave it completely up to the school to
process the document.
It was also concluded that the student should not be the broker nor should the student see
the transcript being sent. Instead the student authorizes the Hub to broker the exchange
between sending and receiving institutions.
Some other conclusions from the APAS were:
1) Common data elements required to conform to PESC standards include name,
date-of-birth, gender and student number.
2) The transcript request screen should be embedded within the APAS process
3) Instantaneous application delivery to enable real-time admission decisions where
appropriate for a given program (appropriate being the decision of the school)
4) Common data will conform 100% to government reporting standards.
5) Enable transcript release for any student authorized purpose (ie scholarship
review boards
6) Routing all data through the Hub frees each school from maintaining records of
7) Transcripts will not be stored in the Hub
8) Transcripts are owned by the school and reflect the credibility of the school and to
ensure trust APAS will broker the secure transfer of transcripts
9) APAS will not validate the identity of a transcript requester
10) The student trust relationship is with their school and both trust APAS as their
11) APAS uses file transfer (not SOA)
12) APAS supports an equifinality concept that there can be many routes to the same
goal. The experience for the students is seamless in that they are unaware of any
third party role and are only authorizing the movement of their transcript.
13) A 24/7 technical support helpdesk will be available and is funded by Alta.
Advanced Ed. Questions about admission are directed to the school in question.
14) APAS will provide performance measures, reports and regular monitoring
15) The Post Office metaphor means students can see the status of their application,
be advised of delays, and be advised when the transaction is completed
16) Due to the system security level students do not see their transcript
17) All applications are routed to the Registrars Office.
APAS formed a group to build and monitor performance metrics. Measures are designed
to conform to government capacity measures across Alberta. Measures include
submission of applications but not data on admission which resides at each institution.
Data will be kept for 3-5 years by APAS but full data resides with the institution.
Grant Cheney offered to attend the next Task Force meeting (which will be
Success Measures were the next topic for the Task Force and the members agreed what
was needed was a trustworthy process with as little manual intervention as possible. A
critical success measure is 100% participation in the Hub and spoke model. Another is a
measurement of workload impact required by each school.
It was suggested that for schools, receiving transcripts is the big value, sending them has
less to offer (except for the fees of course). It was agreed value measures need to be
specified for such functions as stuffing envelopes, use of postal services, cost of special
paper etc.
Members felt that a later phase could include using PESC standards for articulation, but
this was seen as a complication to include it in the project now.
Members endorsed the idea of a BCcampus implementation team that would come to
each school to assist with the service transition. It was estimated that no more than a few
days would be needed, and less for those schools that send and receive EDI.
As a principle it was agreed the service should easily integrate with ERP user interfaces
using a “plug and play” approach. A connection with the Kuali project was indentified as
another integration target and it was suggested that Leo Fernig be advised of this
initiative (Leo is the lead tech support for the Kuali project).
The group discussed the value that the XML transcripts all look the same and are
accompanied by the style sheet. It was suggested that a quality assurance testing process
was critical to success. There was no appetite for considering the transcript secure so it
will not be displayed to the student. Schools will have the option of transforming the
transcripts to a printed version.
A few barriers to project success were discussed and there were other concluding
comments too including:
1) Potential challenges mapping existing transcripts into PESC standards
2) Recognition that schools who did not implement EDI will have the most work to do
3) The need for a best practice guide for transcript exchange business procedures
4) Access to PEN similar to the Alberta model
5) Obtaining 100% participation from schools in the system
6) Enabling any school (anywhere) to be a receiving school by simply downloading XML
files (to quote one comment, “it’s easier than opening envelopes”)
The Task Force welcomed Tony’s offer to draft up use case scenarios.
Next meeting was set for September 19th, details to come.