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Friday, September 11, 2015

Search Tool Makes Access Easier

A team of computer science and software development experts from New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) are working on a tool to help students and faculty categorize and access multimedia resources. Ultimate Course Search (UCS) is in the beta stage, but the Google-style search engine is able to sort through course-generated multimedia using specific keywords.

NJIT ran tests of the software in the fall 2014 semester and the following spring at Montclair State University. Students were given a link to UCS and had to present identification to gain access before they could choose their institution and course. Students type a keyword into the course page and then select the “Slides/Video” or “Textbook” tab to narrow the search.

Both searches take students to a list of hyperlinked locations where the keyword is mentioned. They can view the scanned online page of any book where the reference was made, while the video tab lists slides and videos with the keyword in order of relevancy.

“The future of search, just like learning overall, is headed toward personalization,” Vincent Oria, associate professor of computer science and chair of the online program at NJIT, said in an article for eCampus News. “By this, I envision a student posing a question into the search system and the system giving a personalized answer. The answer will be personalized not just based on relevancy of material, but on the system recognizing the student’s unique learning preferences and tailoring the search results to that individual student; in other words, presenting the information to the specific student in the modality and format that works best for him or her.”

The result of the first test was very promising. Only two or three students using UCS dropped the test class, compared to a 50% dropout rate for a class that didn’t have access to the tool. The spring data results were skewed because students using the tool were sharing the login with the control group.

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