Institutions publish academic calendar, program, fees and course offerings across a variety of mediums, databases and formats. Course level information is often spread across many systems on campus including the Student System, Course Management System, Degree Audit System, Scheduling System, Bookstore System, Faculty Development System, Transfer Articulation System and Course Development System. These systems are generally standalone and duplicate data gathered from authorative sources. Websites and College Catalogs also collect and list course offerings by catalog year or session. Transfer agreements between institutions often list courses compared and accepted between two or more institutions. State agencies and consortiums also collect and publish course offerings by discipline, method of instruction and location.
Imagine every institution publishing a standard set of academic information as a series of authoratative web services abstracting the differences of source, method of management and access method. Courses may be the units of instruction that satisfy one or more requirements for an academic program or may be standalone levels of instruction not linked to an academic program. Courses are the general term used to describe one or more series of meetings covering a topic. Course sessions or meetings may be in different locations or virtual. Fees could be retrieved to calculate costs of attendance. Programs can be retrieved to compare requirements. Academic calendar could be retrieved to define the context of time for fees and courses. These are just a few of the examples how a common set of services could serve many.
There are several actors using applications that could utilize an electronic means to lookup academic and course offerings by institution including faculty, students, advisors, registrars, provosts, deans, department chairs and curriculum committees. Outside the institution, industry, government agencies, bookstores, publishers, class room video streaming, high school counselors, transfer centers, and other users of academic program, course and course session information would desire to access advertised courses in a searchable and online format.
States and collabortive efforts often aggregate centralized views of courses offered or archived by institutions, to allow faculty, students and advisors to access courses for comparability, assessment and articulation. Institutions often re-enter course information duplicating what could be accessed by other institutions (present and past) thru their transfer articulation process. Having a course inventory lookup for instance, with current and prior courses by institution, department, faculty or student level would reduce re-entry, reduce errors, improve self-service and enable new tools to be developed that can bridge the curriculum of institutions.