Go Success

Go was launched roughly three years ago and the overall aim was to make everything more accessible and easier for students. Specifically access to their Mail, File Storage, Discussion, Community, Library and Blackboard.

I would say over all Go has been a fabulous success, we have developed it a great deal over the past three years, improving it in ways more specific to certain groups of students. For example Health, Business School and Performing Arts students can all log into Go and see a taylor made area that allows them to submit assignments, get module updates and notifications about their course. Who’d of thought from this very first version we’d end up with something so dynamic.

The ‘news‘ area is split into four sections: general, support, learning and social. It serves to inform both staff and students of up and coming events; serious and fun alike and health and safety issues. It’s regulary updated to keep interest and to get out as much information as possible, too as many users as possible.

There are ‘panels‘ that can be moved around the page or removed completley, it’s up to you! In particular the ‘student learning‘ panel and the ‘student support‘ panel, they provide important information such as Term Dates and Exam Timetables.

Learning Services have created a video called ‘Learning Services 2010: Introduction to the Go Portal‘, it takes you through Go step by step: http://www.edgehill.ac.uk/study/accommodation/video/learning-services-2010-introduction-to-the-go-portal. It’s a very useful way to introduce you to Go, so if you are a student or a member of staff and you haven’t used Go, what are you waiting for!

A Brief Look at Tomorrow

the number 4

Over the next year we will be looking at ways to improve the corporate website; including a hard look at the design and structure.

We are currently focussing on our top-end homepages, and approaching them independently; rather than applying a uniform concept to all of them – like with our current grid. This is so we can focus on the client, and identify their narrative as a user. In plain English this means: look at what you want; send you to where you want to go; and show you some interesting stuff on the way.

About Interesting Stuff

It’s been long established that online users don’t sit and studiously read long pages of text; they intuitively fix upon interesting content, and ignore the peripherals.

The key is to have enough types of content to engage each user at whatever point in the story they’re at: for example it could be someone seeking a virtual tour of the campus, or a committed applicant making a decision on a course combination.

We intend to mix authoritative writing and strong imagery with relevant news and events, videos, student profiles, blog posts, and galleries. We want to combine formal and informal voices with contrasting media, to appeal to different needs and tastes.

What I’m doing as part of the process

Following on from initial conversations, I’ve been putting together a series of monochrome wireframes, so we have something visual to refer to in forthcoming meetings. We hope these will lead to healthy debate, and help decision making.

We will continue with a group approach when addressing navigation and design concepts. I’m expecting a lot of creative input from our team and corporate marketing, and I’m feeling very positive about the project.

Have we finally gone Christmas pudding mad!

The History

The ‘Christmas Pudding’ or ‘Plum Pudding’ has long been an old favourite, steeped in tradition and history.  The pudding as we know it today comes from the Victorians but it surprisingly emerged as far back as the 1420s, not as a desert but as an early form of preserving meat! The meat was kept in a pastry case along with dried fruits acting as a preservative. The resulting ‘Mince Pies’ could then be used to feed many people, particularly useful in the festive season.  The Pudding can also be traced further back to Roman times, when it started life as a ‘pottage’ prepared in a large cauldron, the ingredients being slow cooked with dried fruits, sugar and spices.

By the reign of Elizabeth I, prunes were added to the pudding recipe, this new addition was so popular the dish became known as ‘Plum Pottage’.

By the eighteenth century, as techniques for meat preserving improved, the savoury element of both the mince pie and the plum pottage diminished as the sweet content increased. The mince pie kept its name, though the pottage was increasingly referred to as plum pudding. Although the latter was always a celebratory dish it was originally eaten at the Harvest Festival, not Christmas. It was not until the 1830s that the flour, fruits, suet, sugar and spices, all topped with holly, made a definite appearance, and the Christmas pudding was born.

The Wish

Traditionally puddings were made 5 weeks before Christmas, known then as ‘Stir-up Sunday’, traditions stated that everyone in the house, especially children, would give the mixture a stir, and make a wish for future prosperity and happiness.  It became common practice for the Pudding to have a silver coin in it usually a thrupence or sixpence, to be kept by the lucky person who had it in their portion! This would hopefully symbolise wealth in the New Year!

The Reality

As our ever growing society strives harder, faster, further for those special things in life that we all must have, our humble Christmas pudding has not been spared. A special edition Christmas pudding created by celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal for the super market chain Waitrose has almost sold out in stores up and down the country and is now appearing on eBay for up to £250.

The Hidden Orange pudding has a whole candied Valencia orange inside and went on sale for £13.99 in Waitrose less than 2 weeks ago.

Tens of thousands have quite literally flown off the shelves and last night Waitrose said there were only 2,000 left in the country.

The store said it was trying to produce more, but it is understood that the oranges take seven weeks to cure, meaning there are unlikely to be any new puddings ready in time for Christmas, which is why this pudding has become the most sort after food item of 2010.

There are currently 151 Hidden Orange puddings on eBay. Some are ‘Buy it now’ offers at £250 and £99, and others are attracting bids of up to £102 or more.

We really have gone mad but I prefer to leave it to chance, so if you missed out on Heston Blumenthal’s Christmas pudding this year maybe you should make your own and stir in a wish for one next year, I know I will!

Wallboards, dashboards and home tabs!

Colorful house number, twoWhat do you have on yours?

I’ve been avidly watching The Ultimate Wallboard contest that my favourite productive development software maker Atlassian sponsored.

Taken from the site:

A wallboard is a type of information radiator used for extreme feedback. Wallboards are typically displayed above a development team’s workspace.

Now that’s got you wondering.. what’s an “Information Radiator?”:

An information radiator is a large, highly visible display used by software development teams to show anyone walking by what’s going on.

Wallboards can be beautiful catchy looking things, and they should be!

As you can see, wallboards can be quite complex things, that take large amounts of important information, prioritise it and keep it visible to the people who need it most.

We want one at Edge Hill Web Services, we use JIRA here so can easily pull data out of that and I’m sure we could squeeze some information out of RMS while we were at it too, albeit with a LOT more hacking (software like that SHOULD have an API!). Looking to the future we’ve just got Crucible and Bamboo licences so that information would join out mythical wallboard..

Do you have a wallboard? / Do you want one?
Is it useful? / Can you see it’s potential use?
What’s on it? / What would you have on it?

You’ve got me every Thursday till Christmas so stay tuned for the next in my series.. Dashboards or home tabs!

Ste Daniels

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