Last semester, I was on an exchange program at Northern Arizona University in Flagstaff, Arizona. When it was almost time to register for classes back at Plymouth State, I knew I wanted to take classes that would have me done with my major and minor a semester early. However, on the Communication and Media Studies Facebook page, I saw that Cathie LeBlanc had posted about her signature project class. I had a class with Cathie before so I already knew she was a great professor. After reading the description, I was willing put off a class for my major in order to take that class; I still have time to take a major related class later on.
The class was not what I was anticipating. I don’t exactly remember what I thought the class was going to be like, but I know I didn’t think it was going to include having different departments from Plymouth State coming to our classroom to see the project that we have been working on. The project we’re working on came from when the class had Hannah Andritsakis from the admissions office come in and talk to us about getting high school students interested in coming to Plymouth State. She presented us with a document called a journey map which helped the admissions team outline the steps every prospective student must go through to become a first year student at PSU (the “critical path”). Branching off of that path were several different events and opportunities for prospective students to get more involved with different departments depending on their interests (i.e. athletes meeting with coaches).
Together, our class decided to create a version of the journey map for students who are interested in PSU to look at and see where they are along the critical path and to visualize their next steps. Some problems that we found with the journey map given to us by Hannah was that the branches off of the critical path was confusing, there was a lot of information that didn’t apply to all students, and some of the terms used were admissions language so others might not understand what it was saying.
We decided to create the journey map digitally and do it in a way that students can pick and choose their own path. In class, Ryan had mentioned using the software Twine, a program that allows people to create a choose your own adventure story. Twine was the perfect program for our project because it allows readers to choose from different options so they can follow their own journey. We also wanted to include different links to the appropriate PSU website to help students get more information about topics. For example, if a student is on the Apply stage in the journey map, the Twine is hyperlinked to the Apply to PSU website for ease of access to more information for students rather than rifling through so many web pages on the PSU website.
Although we are only in the early stages, we have presented a prototype to some of the admissions team and they are really looking forward to seeing more of it. In this class, I’m using different tools and programs that I have never even heard of before taking this class, such as Twine. Between working closely with others on the journey map project we are currently creating, reading and annotating different articles about the design process and replying to my classmate’s annotations, this class has been a great learning and growing experience for myself.
Now, about five months after registering for the signature project, I am enjoying the work that we are doing and the impact I am seeing the class and the journey map we are creating has on other departments around PSU. Everyone we have talked to thus far about our project seems excited and hopeful to see the end product. For the future, I hope to see this project actually being implemented somewhere on the PSU website for students to use and get a better understanding of the “on-boarding” process to Plymouth State.