The project that Prof. Rosson has us working on is an online community called wConnect. This community is an effort to nourish women in a computer related field at the lowest level so that they may learn from mentors and may, when they've gained sufficient experience, be a mentor in return.

Project 1: The wConnect community currently has its web appearance as a Facebook application. The first project is to use the information about the members via their profiles and create visual representation of the data. (i.e. a map that shows where they are all from or a list of people with the same name as you) These should be based on queries to the data base. The goal is to be creative in finding ways these members can interact with each other.

Project 2: Although Facebook is a good way to get members right away, some people don't have a Facebook account, nor want one. This brought up a research project on how we can make an easy, dynamic site that can take in ideas from the community and display it in an organized fashion. The question is whether or not Drupal would make a sufficient replacement for the Facebook group. Taken from, "Drupal is a free software package that allows an individual or a community of users to easily publish, manage and organize a wide variety of content on a website." This description appears to be a very attractive solution to creating such a website, so the question is "can our vision be represented effectively with Drupal?" and "Will this work better than Facebook?"

We'll have to wait and find out.

Goals for the Research

My fellow DREU intern has bravely accepted the Facebook project while I'm going to go learn Drupal. The timeline below is what I hope follow in regards to the production of the site.

Week 1 : Get familiar with Drupal and what exactly the projects are. Look at other sites that use Drupal and see if it would be a good time investment. Also, the logo could use some work.

Week 2, 3: If it so happens to be worth our time (which it seems like it's more or less assumed we will use it), set up the site and get user profiles to interact in dynamic ways. The site should be getting constructed as I get more comfortable using the Drupal modular framework. While the site is being built, the user-map function of the Facebook application will hopefully be implemented while groundwork for some other functions is formed.

Week 4: I believe this is the week of a workshop. This was already organized by the members of the wConnect team, but we are encouraged to attend and support the event. In the mean time, just keeping looking up more ways to use Drupal and its interactive modules.

Week 5: By now, we are hoping that we (and by we, mainly Elizabeth) will be done with the Facebook part, and thus this week we can be cleaning up the Facebook application as needed. This will also be when we can get her caught up in the Drupal site so she can work some mad database skills for anything extra we can think of without the site becoming too overbearing.

Week 6, 7 : Write a CSS code that will turn the default Drupal layout into a dynamic user interface that will be clean and stimulating to the authenticated member. Hopefully, coding the style sheet will start happening as soon as I can, as I foresee complications making certain pages display in certain formations. (i.e. have the profile pages have its own distinct layout, or having the initial log-in page have a different look than if the user is already logged in.)

Week 8 : Have the people in the research make accounts and test out the site.

Week 9 : Implement changes brought up while actually using the online community. During this time, still look for ways to improve.

Week 10 : Clean up any last minutes details and finish more user testing. Write a final report and analyze if the website community is a good alternative to Facebook.

*timeline is subject to change as projects arise