User stories

Marko – Head of SP, TTU

Marko is professor at the Department of Computer Engineering at Tallinn University of  Technology and the head of the Computer Systems Engineering international master programme. In addition to the regular research and teaching activities, he also advises students selecting their courses at the home university and at the other universities during exchange studies. On top of that, he is also responsible for analysing and developing the study programme.  He speaks english and estonian.

Before COMPASS, university students
Marko as the head of a study programme advises students to select courses for their exchange studies at a foreign university. That is, whether the courses a student would like to study abroad
satisfies requirements of the study programme. For this, study outcomes and description of a course are needed to see how well the course will fit into one or another module of the curriculum. For the initial advise/decision, an online access to course descriptions is not so important but is essential for the final decision. It should be noted that the main problem is not to find and to access those descriptions but the different styles how the course is described at different universities. A typical procedure advising the out-going students looks like as follows currently:
1. Marko receives either an e-mail or a table with the list of courses the student would like to study at another university.
2. To find out how well one or another course fulfils study programme requirements, the title of a course is not enough, and study outcomes and course descriptions are needed, at least. Typically the information can not be found at once online and some iterations with the student are needed to refine information. Especially because the way a course has been described, is different at different places. Also, Marko checks the list of courses against the performance of the student (what has been studied already).
3. When everything is OK, the application is approved.
The COMPASS way, university students
With the access to Compass tool/database, the second step will be simplified significantly. The following two main benefits can be outlined. First, because of the unified descriptions, comparison and matching of the courses with will be easier. Second, it will be much easier to suggest the student to take an additional course (or two) or to replace one of the initial selections with a more suitable for the goal of the study programme.
Before COMPASS, incoming students
For incoming students, Marko’s advise is also sometimes asked. Typically a request from a potential exchange student is forwarded to him by the student exchange specialist of the university (Kadri). The information a student is looking for is which of the courses taught at TTUÜ would be the best for his/her study programme. To make a good advise, Marko should know what the student has studied already and what are the expectations of the study programme.
The overall procedure is very similar to the one used with outgoing students. The main difference is in the iterations of the second step – instead of looking for what is needed for the study programme he is supervising, he is now suggesting what may be useful for the student’s studies. For that, sometimes direct contact, typically via e-mail, with the head of the study programme at the foreign university is needed.
The COMPASS way, incoming students
With the availability of Compass tool, the possible choices will be more visible and less guessing will be needed. Even more, Marko may find suggestions for wider are of topics because of enhanced ways for comparisons.
Before COMPASS, update of study-programme
Being the head of the study programme, one of the important tasks for Marko is to follow how up-to-date the study programme is. For that, analysis and comparison of the other existing study programmes is necessary but the difficulties currently are in the way different programmes are described at different universities. Of course, well-known example programmes from
international organisations, e.g., IEEE or ACM, are useful but it is not easy to find information about interdisciplinary topics. This especially useful for smaller countries like Estonia where the need for one or another special knowledge is needed but the need for graduates is not large enough for a full study programme. In cooperation with the local industry and with the help of
Compass tools, Marko can search for suitable module and/.or course examples from the other universities.
The COMPASS way, update of study-programme
This case has an important similarity with the case when advising outgoing students. Namely, it will be possible to advise the student to take a course or two related to the needed subject,
especially when it will be useful for their current/future job. The university regulations in Estonia allow the students to take courses that are not directly related to their curricula, e.g., listing the courses in the free study module.

Kadri – Administrative staff at Office of International Relations, TTU

Kadri is manager at the Mobility Centre of Office of Academic Affairs at Tallinn University of Technology. Her job is to advise and to coordinate student exchange – searching for information, consulting with heads of study programmes, organizing needed paperwork, etc.

As the coordinator of the student exchange, Kadri advises the student to look for suitable universities and to contact study advisor when needed.
The use of Compass tool will simplify her job by directing students directly to the possibility to search and compare courses, instead of finding contacts at one or another university. Of course, her main responsibility would be still handling the paperwork related to the study exchanges but very probably she can coordinate more students in future than today. This would be because of the possibility to search for the suitable courses by the students themselves. In addition, there will be less need to contact Marko or another head of the study programme to ask one or another detail regarding the suitability of one or another course in the first phases of setting up the study exchange plan.

Daniel – PhD student

Daniel is a PhD student at TU Delft. He has recently finished his MSc. He’s doing his PhD at the Computer Engineering Lab. His research is about reliability of memory and needs background information about the topic. He speaks Ductch (native) and English.

Current situation
Daniel recently finished his masters and is now doing his PhD at TU Delft at the Computer Engineering Lab. His research is about the reliability analysis and mitigation techniques of
memories. He needs some background information, such as memories, reliability mechanisms, and mitigation techniques. Furthermore, for his PhD he also needs to fulfil a number of courses in the field and also more soft skill courses (presenting, technical writing, etc.). Therefore, he is trying to find courses, which will give him enough background information. He uses Google to find courses that will provide him the background information and also asks advice from his supervisor and other people at the university. The supervisor recommends him a summer school. The PhD council of the TU Delft also offers courses on soft skills for him to take.
Daniel finds out about the new online service at He decides to create a personal user account. He fills in information about his studies, background, and
learning goals. Using the platform he is able to find some specialized courses in his field that will offer him background information. Also, he will get in touch with professors that work in this area. Finally, he also has a look at some soft skill courses and based on rankings, he is able to select remarkable (in terms of reviewing scores) on soft skills, such as presenting and technical writing.

Marta – PhD student at TU Delft

Martha is a second year PhD student at TU Delft in the Netherlands. In this story we are going to use as an example of the Learning pathway of a second year PhD student looking for expertise in possible future job qualification at industry.

Martha has completed her first graduate year at TU Delft and has gained the background knowledge on his research field. She is now interested to know which qualifications are needed
to be a test engineer at the industry. She will use this information on choosing some elective courses during her remaining years of PhD studies at the university. She regularly looks into job
advertising websites, job descriptions in companies and checks for needed skills of a test engineer.
Martha has already created a personal profile in the COMPASS platform. She enters all her skills inside the platform and now she is able to compare her profile with an existing test engineer profile in the COMPASS framework. In this way she can understand the lacking qualifications in her profile. In search for these qualifications, she can observe the universities, industrial training workshops, institutional courses which provide and give such skills. She can register to the courses by using the COMPASS platform in the appropriate period of the year and obtain the wanted skills.

Jane – International Relations Coordinator 

Jane is a departmental International Relation coordinator at Polytech Montpellier. She is in charge of the validation of learning agreements for incoming and outgoing students of her department. Although she is familiar with communication technologies, she spends much time looking for up-to-date information, equivalent keywords, prerequisites, number of hours, credits and so on and so forth. With time, she can read programs in French, English, Italian, Spanish and Portuguese.

Jane receives applications from foreign students coming to the University within the frame of an exchange program and she should get from the transcripts of records what the level of the student is, and whether he/she has built a consistent study program (neither courses already validated in his/her home universities, nor courses where he/she lacks prerequisites). Therefore, she needs to check the « equivalence » of program / course / level / contents / ECTS credits / background knowledge, etc. that the applicant has already validated. She is in trouble finding references for level, duration, content, outcomes of the courses already validated by the applicants. Very often, she just finds some general keywords, not even in a language she can understand, so she needs to have an individual interview with each student and make a global oral evaluation of the student’s knowledge in order to guide him/her in his/her choice of courses. In the other way round, for her home students going to study in a partner university, she needs to check that their program is a coherent continuation of their training. In the same way, it is very difficult and time consuming for her to estimate whether the chosen courses fit with the students’ previous knowledge without being redundant.
Jane can easily find course descriptions with meaningful information on the level, credits…through to the COMPASS platform. She can feed comparative data for the crouses provided by
the partner universities of her university and reuse it the next years (for example, she can mark all the courses equivalent to the ones given in her Engineering School and it helps her checking the consistency of the pedagogical programs of the incoming and outgoing students). She can also benefit from other coordinators comparative marks and extend her knowledge of equivalent, or complementary, courses in various European Universities. In addition, given that the students can check these equivalences and complementarities beforehand, the learning agreements she receives are now much more consistent and she spends much less time revising them.

Nicolas – 17 yo student

Nicolas is a French guy (17 yr old) who will finish his High School next year. He knows he wants to study in scientific field (maybe between computer science and bioinformatics) but he doesn’t know which will be his professional opportunities and which knowledge is required before enroll (if any).

Nicolas will deal with the following systems:
1. Open days: University of his city invites High School students to visit it and students promote programs, opportunities (e.g., Erasmus, scholarships), learning outcomes -> through posters and report they highlight professional opportunities and data about percentage of workers after 1 yr from the Degree, average income, geographical distribution, type of employee and type of qualification.
2. University website: Nicolas will check the website of his nearest university (the one of his city and other two or three well-known universities in France) and compare “by hand”
different BsC courses in the ICT area: he will compare courses thaught, statistics about exams passed and failed in the previous years, professional opportunities, language of the course, e-learning, opportunities for Erasmus or internships.
1. Open days: will still be attended
2. University website: comparison of LO will be easier and faster through a filtering process among indicators

Michel – Nicolas’ father

Michel is Nicolas’s father. He did not go to the University so he is not familiar with technical terms.


Michel would like to figure out which types of job his son Nikolas will access though the different programs offered to help him choose a training. It is very difficult to manage his way
through the Google searches and links to institutional web-sites, so he gives up…
Thanks to COMPASS, Michel and Nicolas can build a nice pathway for Nicolas. Nicolas is more focused on the course contents (whether he will be interested or not in the short term), while Michel feels only concerned by the job possibilities at the end of the pathway. Thanks to COMPASS, both gain confidence in the course program Nicolas is building and the career opportunities that will be accessible to him. In addition, thanks to the clear equivalence of programs given by the platform, Nicolas will even manage to convince his father that he can spend a semester of studies in a foreign university within the same pathway, so his big problem with English will be solved!

Francesca – 18 yo 

Francesca is an Italian girl (18 yr old) who has just acquired a Diploma from a Scientific High School in Rome, Italy. She is very good in maths and science, while she doesn’t like history or philosophy. She is not very confident with ICT and speaks Italian and French. She is interested in enrolling to a BsC career in Electronics Engineering. She is willing to move
abroad but she has constraints on the language: speaking French, she can go to France, Belgium and Switzerland. She wants to search for the best course that fits her needs (in terms of learning outcome, job opportunities, location, entrance fees, possibility for exchange studies – Erasmus).

Before Compass
Francesca will deal with the following systems:
• Social networks: she will join group of abroad students and ask for their feedback
• Google/Internet: she will start by googling “Electronics Engineer in France” and learning about: professional figure, how it is recognized-employed, how studies are organized (Bologna process), how exams are graded, if attendance to courses is compulsory, how courses are taught, how lab activities are organized… She will repeat the same analysis for Belgium and Switzerland
• Universities websites: finally she will pick up some universities (also choising a city where to live) and crawl their website in search of information such as courses list, ECTS given, exams grading; she has to compare information “by hand”.
Surely Francesca will save time and energy by easily compare Electronics Engineering courses through platform’s filtering process. Would she receive generic information about how it is
different to study in Italy and France of Belgium or Switzerland?