Screenshot of the COSEE.net home page
The Web Working Group (WWG) supports productive collaborations and connections between institutions, organizations and individuals involved in COSEE's web-based ocean sciences education efforts by centralizing the online posting of news, events, educational and scientific resources, and people; encouraging the sharing of these across Centers and COSEE.net; and promoting the use of common terminology among Centers.
Web Working Group History
By 2007, it had become clear that the COSEE web presence needed to be improved to: 1) better serve the growing National COSEE Network; and 2) provide a point of access for the broader ocean science education community. This need led to the formation of the WWG at the July 2007 Council meeting, which was charged to examine how Centers can work together interactively to make existing and future COSEE information more accessible, engaging, and up-to-date. Initially, the WWG consisted of 12 representatives from 8 Centers, the COSEE Coordinating Office (CCO), and Raytheon Web Solutions (the software contractor who was engaged through COSEE-OS). The WWG met two to four times per month to carry out ongoing duties with respect to the original charge.
Strategy and Approach
The WWG began the task of building a better web presence by analyzing the differences and commonalities among existing Network websites, finding that: 1) some COSEE sites were organized by audience, but most were not; 2) different terms were being used by different Centers to describe essentially the same content; 3) some assets and functions were offered by nearly every Center; and 4) there were (at least) three very general categories of assets and functions including news/activities, educational products/processes, and targeted partners/partnerships. Based on this initial analysis, the WWG conducted a Network-wide survey in September 2007, finding overall agreement from 55 respondents representing all Centers, the COSEE Council, the National Advisory Committee (NAC), and others that COSEE should:
- Focus on a primary audience without precluding non-targeted audiences.
- Enable search and retrieval of web information according to audience type.
- Use common terminology.
- Take into account the needs of varied audiences when developing future web content, tools, etc.
- Centralize/integrate some assets and information.
- Streamline data entry.
- Develop tools, databases, and audience-focused terminology that does not overshadow the unique qualities of individual Centers.
- Designate items as "Center-specific" and/or "Network-accessible" for database search and retrieval.
Following the September 2007 survey, 36 members of the COSEE Community representing 11 Centers and the CCO spent over 500 person-hours discussing the design, functionality, implementation, and improvement of the Network website (COSEE.net) and Center websites while building and testing the integrated system. During this effort, the WWG:
- Completed a Network-wide terminology analysis to facilitate inter-Center collaboration and help future web visitors navigate seamlessly between the COSEE websites.
- Conducted five qualitative research studies to document commonalities and differences in terminology used on Center websites in order to simplify and unify for the web how COSEE describes its people and programs.
- Designed, developed, and implemented, with RWS, a common platform and unified Content Management System (CMS) for COSEE.net and participating COSEE Centers that centralizes the online posting of news, events, educational and scientific resources, and people; encourages the sharing of these across Centers and COSEE.net; and promotes the use of common terminology among Centers.
- Trained Center and Network administrators on how to operate the CMS and populate their websites.
- Populated the CMS database and tested system components, providing feedback to the developers for system refinements while tentatively identifying desired improvements.
- Created audience-specific features (e.g. For Scientists, For Educators, For Students, etc.) to accompany as-built search and sort functionality, thus providing both automated filtration capabilities and the flexibility to locate requisite documentation across Centers and COSEE.net by user-defined keywords.
- Delivered, in January 2009, public web pages that are 508 compliant and have a unifying "COSEE look and feel" while still maintaining a Center's individuality.
As of June 2010, the WWG had:
- Overseen the continued population of six Center websites and COSEE.net.
- With Raytheon Web Solutions, designed, developed, and implemented new functionality to allow those Centers not on the CMS to create "About Us" pages that display content, news, events, and a directory of people on COSEE.net and to share this information with other Centers. This functionality was also made available to select external partners, COSEE Working Groups, and the CCO.
- Modified existing functionality to include:
- A new A to Z menu on the Directory page to enable filtering by last name.
- The capability to assign people in the Directory an affiliation with entities other than the COSEE Centers or COSEE.net (e.g. the CCO, NAC, etc.).
- Publication of upcoming Center events on the home page of COSEE.net.
- Integrated Center and Network blogs.
- Improvements to behind-the-scenes administrative processes.
- Prepared an online tutorial on navigating the CMS and populating Center websites.
- Conducted interactive webinars to train Center administrators in posting and sharing news, events, resources, and directory information.
- Continued to meet twice monthly to collaboratively identify, evaluate, and prioritize action items to enhance the look and functionality of the websites.
- Updated the Network as to WWG activities with monthly articles in CNN, the online COSEE Network Newsletter (hosted since January 2009 on COSEE.net).
As of June 2010, COSEE.net had 130 content pages, 320 individuals in the directory, and 165 items in its Resources database. Additionally, 133 Events and 65 News items were posted on COSEE.net. These numbers do not include the content pages, resources, events, and news items that are hosted on the CMS-based Center websites.
COSEE File Manager
In addition to the CMS and integrated websites, the WWG has overseen the development and implementation of the COSEE File Manager, which serves as a repository and access portal for documents belonging to COSEE. This application cultivates linkages and promotes collaboration within the Network by supporting the sharing of files between Centers, working groups, the CCO, and other COSEE entities in a password-protected environment readily accessible by all COSEE personnel.