Portlet for the National Survey of Student Engagement (NSSE). Displays only to pre-selected First-Year and Senior students.
Planning implementation and achieving results
Around November of 2014, USD decided to participate in a national experiment regarding Student enagegement. This is a survey organized by Indiana University in collaboration with USD's Institutional Research and Planning (IRP). My job in the ITS department was to create a portlet to dynamically generate a survey link for the student in the pre-selected population file from IRP. The end result was the portlets you see above and so far no issues whatsoever.
Influencing, communication and teamwork
Initial work started in early 2015 with researchers at Indiana University setting up sample survey links which we then tested from inside our MySanDiego portal to make sure they links were reachable from inside our network.
Next, I communicated with the Director of IRP to make sure we understood the requirements. I verified a few misconceptions we had with respect with how the data was going to be provided to us in ITS. We also obtained a sample population file with the columns that were going to be included in the end result.
The next step was to work on the design. The portlet had to be intuitive and easy to use, and also be consistent with our designs inside the MySanDiego portal. Too often new additions look out of place by omitting this step. We wanted to use Material Design concepts and also use the NSSE logo with their permission.
After running the designs back-and-forth, we finalized everything and we worked on the coding. I made sure to give weekly updates on the progress and I think this made the end users feel comfortable with the timeline of when everything was going to be tested and released.
Finally, we put everything on our development portal and asked the end users to test and log in as a few sample students. Everything went as expected. We copied everything to our production server and enabled the survey at the specified time and date. Just as a precaution, I notified all stakeholders 24 hours before turning the production portlet "on".
Analysis, problem solving and creative thinking
The portlet works by reading from a csv file. The file contains a set of USD IDs and unique links. When the portlet loads, the user's ID is queried and then the file is loaded and if the student is in that file, the corresponding survey link is loaded. I also display a customized flat button using Material Design concepts. The idea is that the customized button will make it more likely for the student to click the portlet by making it clear that this is customized content and that their participation is expected but voluntary.