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Thursday, 4 February 2010
Two weeks into the project... software, pedagogy and research
So, two weeks into my Arcadia research project, how are things going?
Building on Huw's work for the library widgets, I've begun creating the prototype exam paper widget. As so often with technology, the bits you expect will be hard are easy, and vice versa! Raven integration turned out to be instantly sorted by a combination of folder settings and ready-made code from the library widget, but getting to grips with JQuery is taking longer than I'd hoped.
Meanwhile, I've been researching the current workflow for the paper archiving of past exam papers - you can see a first draft here. The coloured boxes indicate potential moments at which digital archiving could take place. I've also been researching the range of forms and media in which exam papers exist - from audio files to data sheets. I've visited a number of libraries and librarians across the University, who have all been extremely helpful.
I've been conducting a small scale literature review, looking for any research into best practice in using past papers to support exam preparation. Unfortunately, this does not seem to have been well investigated in the past: however, Cambridge itself has carried out a number of small scale projects around this issue, and I'll be talking to the instigators of these in the future.
Over the next week, I'm planning to continue the process of gathering together current digitised exam papers, and labelling them according to appropriate University schemas. I'll begin research directly with students, finding out more about their needs when revising. It would be interesting to hold a small focus group with supervisors as well, in order to chat about their use of past papers. And of course, I'll continue developing the prototype software, aiming to get it up to the point where the information is working in a web page, though without a determined user interface.