We’ve done a lot of work with various groups at Pasadena City College, including the eSTEM grant, which focuses on providing better support and increasing student diversity in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. One of the many projects under this grant has been the creation and opening of the STEM Center, where selected students enrolled in PCC science courses go to study independently, receive support from mentors, study with peers, and attend various events and workshops.
Each semester, the students invited to attend the STEM Center commit to spending a certain amount of time in the center. After almost a year of students hand-writing how much time they spent in the center and mentors manually entering it into an Excel sheet, we all decided that there HAS to be a better way. We spent many hours searching through the exhaustive list of time-tracking apps that already existed, and quickly realized that none of them would work. The STEM Center was looking to not only capture the time students spent in the center, but also the activities they were participating in while there. None of these pre-existing apps were the perfect match for what they needed.
A common mantra at Mackey is “sure, why not”. Had we developed an app like this before? Definitely not. Could we figure out a way to get it done? Sure, why not. Together, we set out with the STEM Center to think up the perfect app— How would it work? What would it track? What would it look like? What information would it give to students and those running the center?. We combined some big thinking, creative designs, and developer help to create a custom web app that would meet this vision and the data that was needed.
The finished product has a front end that allows students to check in and out, log their activities and % of time spent on type of activity, and view their progress. It has a backend that allows admins to view the students, track the hours students are logging and run MANY different types of reports to assist in analyzing all of this data. We have just finished the first roll-out and students have started to use it. As we work through the remainder of this semester and as well as future ones, we know that there will be tweaks, additions, and deletions. But, for now, we have the beginning of a web app customized to their branding and their needs. Perhaps, you could say, we are one step closer to “the perfect match”.