Monday, December 14, 2009

Computer Science students to present evaluation of oZone

Computer class evaluates oZONE for final project

Kelsey Witten, Contributing Writer
Friday, December 11, 2009

Computer science students will speak directly to the oZONE project team on behalf of nearly 1,000 opinionated students Monday during the class’ final exam period.

Twenty-one students in Amy McGovern’s human and computer interaction class have been surveying and analyzing student and faculty opinions on OU’s oZONE Web site, which is the new hub of enrollment. The students will present their findings in front of McGovern and the oZONE team as their final project.

“We were covering how you evaluate different user interfaces,” McGovern said of her class. “One of the major ways you do that is to get your user population in to do a survey. We were talking as a class about what we could evaluate and what would be interesting to them. Since oZONE just came out, it’s a very meaningful experience to [students] because everybody had to use it to enroll.”

The class worked together to develop an oZONE survey, and McGovern sent out a mass e–mail. As a result, the survey received nearly 900 responses in the first eight hours.

The student groups sorted through the responses, which included 800 surveys with written comments in addition to multiple choice responses. After McGovern saw the response, she contacted the oZONE team, and they agreed to attend the class’ final Dec. 14.

Each small group will give a 15-minute presentation to the oZONE team during the final. Computer science junior Julia Layne said the opportunity to speak in front of the oZONE staff made the project seem more worthwhile.

“Hopefully some of the things we talk about might be able to be changed,” Layne said. “But it’s a little scary because they’re the people who developed it, and you don’t want to rag on them too much.”

Layne said most student complaints were about the enrollment portion of oZONE.

“A lot of people really liked the old enroll system,” she said. “Since this new enroll is still really in the works, it is very difficult for students to use. It’s not extremely user friendly. A lot of people are saying go back to enroll, which really isn’t an option.”

Enrollment will not return to the old system, called OE, but Eddie Huebsch, OU IT director of projects, said the class presentations would be “a very good thing,” and the oZONE team is working hard to make oZONE more user friendly.

“We are very concerned about the user interface,” Huebsch said. “No matter how much great technology you have behind the scenes, the user interface is where ‘the rubber meets the road,’ so to speak. We did have to take a few steps backward with the user interface to go forward with the system as a whole, but we are hoping in the not-too-distant future that we will make great strides in improving that.”

This sentiment is echoed by most students who have tried to use oZONE, including Layne and her classroom peers.

“For the most part, we’re not in love with oZONE,” she said. “We’re hoping we can make a difference, and we can help them make a better oZONE. It really is a good idea to have it all in one place. It just needs to be hammered out.”