Focus on Understanding and Supporting Cross-Project Activity Search
Multiple lines of evidence indicate that "searching across all SERC-hosted projects for teaching activities to meet a particular course need" is a core activity of our visitors and which Compass needs to address if it is to be successful. So year 2 will have a focus on building an understanding of the specific visitor behaviors in this task and in increasing user success in this task through changes to discovery tools. Models and approaches developed in improving this core discovery experience will inform future work focused on other discovery behaviors. We will focus on undergraduate Earth education activity search but maintain awareness of how this work relates to k-12 and non-geo searches. Specific work will include:
- Activity Search Interface Development of a new interface specifically designed to support activity search as part of the Teach the Earth site. We will explore improved controlled vocabularies, search engine tuning and changes to the display of the activity pages themselves to make this interface as effective as possible. Fall
- Redesigned Teach the Earth site This work will build on past user testing of the site, aim to reduce confusion around the purpose of the Teach the Earth site versus the SERC front page, and will help visitors find the new Activity Search Interface. Winter
- Cross-site Navigation towards Activity Search These new navigation elements and tools will help users discovery the new Activity Search Interface when relevant. Fall
- Site Use Analytics around Activity Search Development of standard metrics derived from site analytics data around this class of user behavior: how much of it do we see and what signals of success/failure are discernible in the analytics data. This will include metrics that characterize the quality of search results (e.g. do users select the higher ranked search results). Summer/Fall
- User Testing Testing of actual user interactions with these various activity discovery improvements. Which, combined with analytics data, will give us insight into their effectiveness and provide formative feedback to drive iterative improvement. Winter/Spring
Characterizing and Supporting 'Other' Discovery Behaviors
Evidence from analytics indicates there are many users visiting multiple projects that don't follow the core pattern of directed activity search. These may reflect serendipitous discovery, purposeful work (e.g. content development) across project boundaries or other behaviors. We will work to understand underlying themes, patterns, and motivations across these visits. We will also make limited improvements to discovery tools where such improvements seem to align with common patterns emerging from these visitors behaviors.
- Interview Study Conduct a targeted interview study where specific visitors who have engaged in these repeated cross-project visits are asked to retrospectively reflect on their behavior; prompted by the detailed historic visit trace captured by the site analytics system. Fall/Winter
- Site Use Analytics for Other Discovery Explore patterns in the site analytics data that may allow categorization and counting of these 'Other' behaviors. This work can be informed by the interview study to narrow the scope of possible patterns. Winter
- Improvements to Secondary Discovery Tools Make improvements to the 'Pages You Might Like' and 'Where I've Been' tools that support support serendipitous discovery and help with with orientation. Winter
Advance DEIJ Discovery
There is ongoing strong interest in the community in discovering resources that support DEIJ related work. We will build on the work of the previous year advancing tools that support DEIJ discovery and build our understanding of what resources visitors actual want in this area and how that aligns with what we, and partners, have to offer.
- Build understanding of specific user needs: Analyze existing data from usability walk-through/interviews/search analytics/CDA feedback to understand what are people looking for, what language they are using, and how those needs and language aligns with our new vocabulary and existing collections.Use the DEIJ case to explore the tension between the need for 'up-to-date' information, especially in areas where best practices and language is rapidly evolving, against the clear enduring value of some frequently used and long-standing materials. The research will focus particularly on how this tension plays into using the age of material to influence what resources we recommend to visitors via search and other discovery mechanisms. Fall/Winter
- Raise Visibility of DEIJ resources Use 'Pages you Might Like' and other existing discovery features to promote resources in the existing DEIJ tagged collection. Use the site analytics to understand the effectiveness of these approaches. Summer/Fall/Winter
We will advance the existing identified partnerships and explore new potential partners.
- Implement Discovery of Partner Resources Implement the mechanics of data exchange and other technical work needed to allow partner materials to be discoverable for our users for at least 4 of our existing identified partners. Fall/Winter
- Develop New Partners and Partnership Models Build on these initial Winter/Spring
Complete and Integrate Year 1 Tasks into SERC Workflows
The accessibility and project inventory work begun in year 1 will be integrated into SERC's ongoing processes.
- Finalize SERC office accessibility training and make it part of employee onboarding. Summer/Fall
- Get feedback, refine and integrate author accessibility information into authoring pipelines. Fall/Winter
- Explore models for supporting project accessibility work: levels of SERC support, processes and supporting documentation for building project partners accessibility expertise, mechanisms for performing/documenting accessibility inventories. Fall/Winter
- Integrate project information tracking into SERC project management processes with new Serckit-based project information system. Summer/Fall