DIVERSE Meeting July 29 Summary

Following on from our meeting on the 29th July I thought I would share some of the ideas discussed in the meeting.

Firstly there has been some additional interest in the use of the DIVERSE tool. The DIVERSE tool is now being used for a welcome to Lincoln package for new students, the idea being that the tool can be used by new students to learn about recommended places in Lincoln e.g.  places to eat/ shop. This use has already had a positive impact on the project as it has provided some feedback as to the usability of the tool. Additionally this welcome to Lincoln application will serve as a soft opening for the tool before it is fully deployed on a larger scale in September.

In terms of the feedback received some of the additions and changes planned for the tool itself will be a more intuitive system for dealing with unknown websites;  allowing custom icons to represent websites rather than the current default images. Additionally a tool tip system is planned to allow users to get a preview of web pages within the cloud and overall make the tool more interactive for users.

Similarly over the coming weeks we will be looking at integrating some of the other university projects created in house such as linking you and nucleus etc. We will also be looking at developing a backend system for the application to facilitate the analytic side of the tool which will be used heavily in the research which is running parallel to the development of the DIVERSE tool.

What we’re up to

Just dropping by to keep you all updated on the changes we’re currently making to DIVERSE. We’ve been working hard on creating our new toolbar ready for when DIVERSE goes live. For those of you who don’t know, this will allow you to add new links, rate up and down existing ones, view the current pages popularity along with a whole host of other cool features; better still, it’ll be available wherever you are on the internet so there’ll be no need to head back to DIVERSE to access it, cool eh?

How do we plan on making this work I hear you ask? Well, we’re in the process of turning our toolbar into a bookmark; this will allow you to access the toolbar anywhere on the internet simply by clicking the bookmark. Don’t worry about losing the page you’re on though, the toolbar will sit happily at the bottom of your page until you decide you don’t need it anymore and click the hide button. We’ll be releasing a full user guide on how to use this so watch this space!

Other things we’ve done:

Along with making things look pretty we’ve also be focusing on things behind the scenes. We’ve added features that help to remove offensive language from any of the posts; this ensures you or anyone else won’t be offended by the content you see on DIVERSE. You may have also noticed that we use different images to indicate the links within a cloud; well we’ve now added more images to help better distinguish where posts have come from; we’re also added a default image for those posts we’re not so sure about! On top of this we’ve been working hard to restructure the system to help make it faster!

All our changes and updates will appear in this blog so keep your eyes peeled to be the first to know!

DIVERSE: The applications

Now that the DIVERSE project is underway I thought it would be a good idea to further elaborate some of the possible applications of the DIVERSE tool. As already outlined in the overview of this project, DIVERSE at its core is a virtual learning tool for student engagement. The idea being that DIVERSE should provide both students and lecturers a whole host of benefits and advantages.

From the students perspective the immediate benefit of DIVERSE is that it allows students to share relevant resources on a module topic. This sharing of resources is particular beneficial for  first year students, as one of the biggest difficulties first years find with assignments and academic work is the need to reference their work. This is because students before starting university are used to just regurgitating facts and viewpoints in essays, rather than present underpinning to their arguments as is expected in assignments. So DIVERSE provides a means of students accessing a pool of relevant and hopefully useful sources they can use to underpin their work. The overall outcome hopefully being a positive improvement in the quality of assignments, at least in terms of referencing then previous years. Although it may be somewhat difficult to ascertain the direct effect DIVERSE actually has, but this falls out of the scope of this post and will be covered in depth at a later date.

Another similar benefit DIVERSE could bring is that DIVERSE allows lecturers to get a sense of how well their class understands a topic. As if for example a lecturer has set an assignment on ethics for example and the lecturer notices that the ethics resource cloud contains prominent links to inaccurate/ out-dated sources the lecturer can address this and hopefully prevent students from using bad sources. Following on from this another application for DIVERSE which lecturers can use is that the tool can be seen as a tool to help spark more interactive lectures and engage students more.

The final application of DIVERSE that has been considered so far is based around the stats a tool such as DIVERSE can gather and the use of these statistics. The type of statistics DIVERSE could be used to gather could prove highly valuable and useful in a variety of ways. One such application would be to use the statistics on popular journals and books students choose to share and that these stats can influence the availability of these resources, and so popular resources can be given more of a priority when it comes to buying more books or renewing journal subscriptions. In contrast resources which receive a negative view by large amounts of students could be discontinued in favour of the more popular resources.

This post has just provided a brief overview into some of the applications and advantages DIVERSE can provide to students and lecturers alike. Over the coming weeks as DIVERSE develops i am sure the applications of the tool will grow as well, i hope this post has provided a taste of what to expect from DIVERSE in the future.




Project DIVERSE begins

Hi everyone this is just a quick update to say that project DIVERSE has now officially begun and is off to a strong start. Stay tuned to this blog to track the projects progress and news. As a brief outline of what to expect, the aim for the next few weeks is to have the user guide for DIVERSE completed as well as prepare the tool itself for returning and new students to use in the new semester.