Undergraduate Research Office (URO)

URO Web Makeover Requirements Document

Pat Manley and Karen Guttentag (MS Costanza-Robinson, liaison)

Meeting quote: “We realized how little we knew about the possibilities”

The URO website currently incorporates text, photos, online submission of symposium abstracts, and a searchable database of research opportunities. These features need to remain and be improved in the Web Makeover. Importantly, the research/exploration opportunities included in the database includes those for which the main point of campus-contact spans several offices (ACE, CSO, URO, Rohatyn, Student Fellowships/Health Professions). Thus, web features that will enhance/automate the flow of content to URO from dispersed locations are particularly desirable (Portal?). Currently content updating and removal of old information is slow, because a single person, dedicates 10 hours/week total to the administrative assistance for URO and only a subset of that time can be dedicated to web upkeep.

Specific Desired Features:

  • A master calendar of deadlines for various research/exploration opportunities that self-populates with events/deadlines based on content housed elsewhere (e.g., within the URO searchable database, on ACE/CSO/etc. websites/databases) and can include manual inputs from dispersed sources. The calendar entry should be linked to other locations for more information about the opportunity. For example, if a faculty member gets notice of an EPA undergraduate fellowship, that faculty member could add that deadline to the calendar with an embedded link to the EPA website.

  • More web technology education/awareness/consulting. The current feeling is that web content providers/authors and people generally are left to request help with projects and/or specific web-based technologies. This situation presupposes that people know what web-based technologies are out there, what they can do, and that they desire them. They often don’t. As an example, LIS advertises training sessions for a variety of software and software tools (e.g., Excel pivot tables), but doesn’t advertise what pivot tables are useful for. URO suggests for LIS/communications to target specific audiences (perhaps divisionally) with announcements of training sessions/help/suggestions that focus on function rather than software/tool names/jargon. Another avenue would be to host a CAOS mtg dedicated to the subject of web-based technologies so coordinators can disseminate relevant info to their dept/programs. As an example here, Doodle is an easy effectively tool for planning group meetings, and no training is needed to use it, but most people simply don’t know what it is, that it exists, that it is free. Along these lines, URO has had considerable (and wonderful!) help from LIS setting up the searchable database, but the help was also offered in a way such that LIS helped URO do what URO requested. URO would have liked more consulting on what possibilities/limitations exist with regard to searchable databases, perhaps with examples of other databases currently in operation (e.g., at other institutions). Had they known about other/additional possibilities or existing limitations they may have chosen to do things differently. Finally, there are tools/software that people know about, but use infrequently enough to forget how to do it (e.g., printing a poster to a plotter). The existing LIS “how-to” guides are viewed as extremely helpful/well-done, but the feeling is that there are not enough of them and/or that they are difficult to find. This represents an larger discussion of what is reasonable to expect of LIS.

  • Both as more URO content becomes available and the makeover progresses, URO would like

    • to convert their static photo gallery into a slideshow that displays on their homepage, much like the main homepage

    • to add embedded video. Currently, great symposium video is posted online by Communications as part of a press release, but URO doesn’t know how/if they can do this on their site

    • to more fully automate and streamline the online symposium abstract submission/approval process. Currently, students submit their form supposedly with the consent/approval of their faculty mentor. URO would like the student-submitted abstract to automatically initiate an email that requests online approval of the named faculty mentor, while simultaneously logging/recording the submission as PENDING in the URO database – that way if the faculty mentor fails to approve in a timely manner, a mentor-reminder email can be auto-generated. Finally, after the faculty mentor approves the submission, the submission would be logged/recorded as MENTOR-APPROVED and await URO approval/scheduling. I suppose once a time/location for the submission is set, an automated email conveying that information to the student/mentor would be nice, too.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *