Discovery Improvements for SERC Website Visitors

Poster Session Part of Friday Poster Session


Sean Fox, Carleton College
Sarah Fortner, Carleton College

The Science Education Resource Center (SERC) hosts materials from over 120 geoscience education projects. However, the project-focused nature of the SERC website means that information is siloed and users have difficulty navigating the full breadth of the collections. The Compass project addresses this challenge directly.

Over the last year SERC has added a range of new features to improve the discovery experience. To help users find resources across project boundaries, we have expanded the deployment and enhanced the logic in our 'Pages you Might Like' feature which provides recommendations to users for content from other projects that might be of interest to them based on the materials they are currently viewing. We have also modified project-level search and navigation features in key project sites to enable visitors to more easily become aware of, and make use of, the Teach the Earth portal site that provides a cross-project view.

A new 'Where I've Been' feature aims squarely at a common reported challenge. As visitors jump from project site to project site in search of the right resource it becomes difficult to return to material of interest. This new feature automatically tracks and displays one's recent exploration path: highlighting key pages and projects.

Another goal of Compass is to support visitors in discovering high-quality Earth education resources that don't happen to be hosted by SERC. To this end we've partnered with groups that have developed and host their own Earth education materials and who would like those materials to be discoverable by SERC visitors. A range of experiments are underway that allow direct discovery of these resources from within the existing SERC search and discovery tools.

These developments reflect the initial round of Compass's efforts to improve discoverability. We'll be evaluating their impact and evolving them Compass continues.