Towards a single Student Home

August 10th, 2006

I’ve been charged with creating two prototype programme-level websites – one for Psychology and one for Molecular Science. It’s important to draw the distinction between the student-support level and the enquirer websites. I’m soley concerned with the student-support level. The enquirer (marketing) level will be left to those far more capable at selling. However, it’s important to note that the two existing programme level websites for Psychology and Molecular Science are a mish-mash of information aimed at both prospective students and actual students. The eventual aim is to have to completely seperate entities – one for enquirers and one for students.

Whilst it will be useful to create two prototype websites to try out ideas, the eventual aim would be to inform the work into the next version of Student Home. At a time where there are more and more websites trying to grab our student’s attention, it would make much more sense for the programme level information to be integrated with the main Student Home view.


Student Home – how it looks today

At some recent workshops we identified the main topics of information that students might find at a programme-level of support.


Molecular Science


Interestingly, on the two seperate workshops, faculty staff managed to come up with practically identical items thay would like to see in the programme-level view. Most of the differences were not to do with actual concepts but the labelling of these concepts. For example, Psychology had a section called people whilst Molecular Science had a section called Chemistry department. Both amount to the same thing.

Student Noticeboard

Both faculties said they would like a Student Noticeboard. Something like the OU Intranet Noticeboard, where student could exchange information in a public forum as they would using a traiditional (physical) student noticeboard at a traditional university. In fact, so important was this virtual community aspect that both faculties agreed that it should be the focal point of the programme-level homepage. The noticeboard would be divided, like OU Intranet Home, between official messages and informal notices.


Intranet Home – as it looks today

Student home links

Both faculties said they would like to see links to Student Home and the course e-desktops on a programme-level website. There was some idea that if possible, a lot of information the student can access through Student Home would be directly available on the programme-level view.

The implications for this are that the actual Student Home view would become redundant to the students who are on a programe of study. They would probably favour the programme level view because it would be more specific to their current status as an OU student and therefore bookmark the page, bypassing the main Student Home view.

To cater for this fact and to avoid duplication of data across different views, it would be far more preferable for the student-level view to be merged with Student Home so the student has a single view contextual to their current state as an OU student. As far as the programme-level vision is concerned, Student Home would be a kind of portal view with the focal point of a student messageboard with links to other contextually relevant around it.

We are now liaising with Harriet Buckingham of the integrated online experience VLE project to plan the way forward with this.

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4 Responses to “Towards a single Student Home”

  1. patrick kelly

    This looks very nice and is simple to read and comment. I guess the more general issue is possibly BLOG overload – the opportunity to get invovled in so many that people cant keep up. I have a tesco points card because they got in early. Then others came along and I just gave up because there were too many. Do students have a similar problem?

  2. Guy Carberry

    You need an RSS reader. Makes life much easier. Just like e-mail. Imagine you had to give up with e-mail because more than a couple of people were e-mailing you!

  3. Dan

    Information overload is a huge issue, and I’m not convinced that RSS helps the average student (I’m basing this on no evidence at all mind!).

    I think we need to be smarter in the communication relationship we establish with current/potential students. Ensure what we send is of value and directed at them. I wouldn’t want endless reams of peripheral information. I would want short sharp ‘stuff’ that relates directly to what I am doing.

  4. Guy Carberry

    Dan, I think Patrick was speaking from a personal point of view! He has too many blogs to keep track of. RSS helps in this respect. You choose what you want, rahter than not (as is the case with email).

    But info overload is always gonna be an issue.