Understanding Discovery Across SERC-Hosted Websites
Monday 2:30pm E Building 202
Oral Presentation Part of Monday Oral Session A
Sean Fox, Carleton College
Kristin O'Connell, Carleton College
Ashley Carlson, Carleton College
mahdi mohamed, 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. Over the last 3 years, through the Compass project, we have been collecting data on how users move through our sites and interact with our discovery systems. At the same time we have been making adjustments to these systems and adding new discovery-enabling features. In this presentation we'll share what we've learned so far about how Earth educators navigate our sites and the effectiveness of the discovery-enabling changes we've made. We will present data from our web analytics system that tracks fine-grain information down to the level of individual clicks from the over 5 million annual SERC visitors. These data illuminate visitor use of portal sites and our recommender system, how they interact with our various search interfaces and the frequency and ways in which visitors move across the boundaries between project websites. A key observation is that the diversity of ways in which visitors interact with the site mean that any single improvement strategy (e.g. improving text search results) is unlikely to be broadly beneficial. Instead it is important to focus on providing multiple paths and opportunities for visitor to learn about and navigate to resources relevant to their needs. Understanding how these interactions play out and how we've tried to support them can not only inform projects and other groups interested in discover in general, it provides insight for individuals on how they might better explore and capitalize on SERC's collections to meet their own needs as Earth educators.