In the second meeting of the Center for Teaching and Learning’s internal Technology SIG, someone mentioned a desire for having easier event sign-ins. Honestly, I don’t recall whether there were intervening comments, but something in the discussion reminded me of the Yale Student Technology Collaborative‘s homegrown software, cardswipr, that interfaces with a magstripe reader or prox reader for just this kind of purpose.
After checking out a prox reader from the Bass Media Equipment service, I hooked it up and tested it out with the web app. It worked exactly as advertised, and as easily. Authenticate, create event with event admins, open event, swipe ID, and record some of the swiper’s directory information, including some available only to authenticated Yale accounts.
The second phase of the test came this morning, when I poked at it / demonstrated it for a handful of CTL colleagues. Since I didn’t know how this would go and knew it wouldn’t take long, I only spoke to people who participated in the Technology SIG conversation, with encouragement for them to bring along others they thought were interested. The end attendees represented the Writing Center, Graduate and Postdoctoral Teaching Development, Assessment, Quantitative Reasoning Center, and Collaboration & Communication.
Fortunately, I seem to have been successful in setting a low bar for expectations, as everyone saw some use for the app, even if it isn’t perfect for all. In part, this is a case of the app having been built by the STC for their use case(s), so it does what they wanted it to do rather than what infinite potential future use cases might require. I’m totally on board with that; premature optimization and all that.
Also, of course, given that we try to have people around who find the limits, boundaries, and interstices and given that people come to software with pre-existing hopes, people who saw the demo had varying desires for additional data or functionality. Tutoring providers want to have tutees prox in and then have the tutor fill in a couple additional things that can’t be retrieved automatically from a university database. At teaching workshops, it would be nice to get a person’s status in the university: undergraduate, graduate student, faculty, postdoc, staff, others. Everyone wished we could get the swipe-in time in the exported data, and though only one person mentioned it, I believe that everyone could benefit from the event name included in the exported data as well.
Given the favorable response, I’ve put in a query to Yale ITS to see if they would contemplate additional development. If so, I’ll need to demo the app for all CTL staff interested in the possibilities and to guide us through a couple short requirements meetings.