Hurray! We are done!
This will be the final blog post of the FindOut Scavenger Hunt project. It has been a great year with the project and it is very satisfying to be done. Back in the summer of 2011 we started with an idea to make a scavenger hunt around the UBC Vancouver campus. The suggestion came from a faculty member who thought that it would be fun to have an activity to introduce students to the campus, and when I heard the idea I mentioned that it was actually quite feasible! Given that we were both interested, we decided to mull the idea over and keep an eye out for sources of funding. Finding the AMS Sustainability Project Fund was the spark we needed to get started!
I started the webapp in collaboration with another programmer, and over a couple months we built a working scavenger hunt for smartphones. There were many ways we could make what we wanted, so we started with several experiments to find a good set of tools. By December 2011 we had a working app with an initial set of locations! It wasn’t perfect, but it worked on most smartphones and had all the necessary features. This first version was funded by our first of two AMS SPF grants.
This first version was used in the first offering of SUST 101 in January 2012. This course was an intro to sustainability for a multidisciplinary group of students and the app was used as a lab activity in the first month of the course. While helping students to explore resource systems around campus, the app also acted as an icebreaker for new students and a chance to get a feel for the large Vancouver campus. Feedback by students and instructors was positive, so we applied for another SPF grant.
The second grant funded a much more varied collection of work than the first one. With the second grant we: hired a web designer to improve the look and layout of the app, and hired a photographer to photograph some of the locations. We also spent some time fixing bugs in the workings of the app, building an administration website for instructors, and writing documentation for future users and administrators of the app. All of this was necessary to get the project to a point where it could be handed off to the instructors of SUST 101 and used for the next couple of years without the support of the original developers.
The plan is to keep using the app with the SUST 101 course. With the new semester starting in a couple of weeks, we are hoping to see small groups of students running around campus trying to find storm drains and power stations
Thanks to everyone at the AMS SPF for their support throughout the project!
-Scott Newson, FindOut project manager
by Scott Newson
Since the end of last semester, FindOut has received a couple of upgrades! First is a visual refresh, by graphic designer Shirley Ho.
This gives us a more polished look for the students that will be using the app. One of the big changes here is the inclusion of an image of each location. In the first real use of the app, students were unable to find certain locations with just the text descriptions given. The inclusion of images is our first attempt to fix this.
Equally important, but less visible, is the management website. This allows the instructors of a course to reset the app for a new set of students and to update the content of the app. While it is possible to do these tasks without the website, it allows instructors to do them with as little effort and training as possible.
Unfortunately, we still have a bit of work to do before school starts up again in September. First, the app and management site need to go through a final spate of testing and fixes – there are still some concerns and bugs. Second, the entire system needs to be documented so that it can continue to be used after the original developers leave. Finally, the content of the app (locations, their descriptions, and quiz questions) need to be reviewed with the goal of equalizing the four scavanger hunts’ difficulty and length.
by Scott Newson
As of early January, the FindOut webapp is finished! On January 19th, it was used by the students of Sustainability 101 as part of their lab exploring resource systems on campus. Working in four groups (one for each of food, water, solid waste, and energy), they spent an afternoon exploring campus locations related to their system.
Moving forward, we will meet with the teaching staff of SUST 101 to explore possible futures for the app. Initial feedback from the course instructors and students is positive, and there is talk of using it again next year. If this is to be used again in the future, we will need to provide a way for content to be updated by course instructors including documentation or a simple website to facilitate this.
The app is not currently available for public registration. Before going public, we need to figure out who will host the app in the long term. There is also a bit more work that has to go into providing live registration. We do hope to have it running for the public sometime by the end of the winter semester.