Editorial Pick 2015: New Google –like search technology is curbing course dropouts

Brilliant minds at the New Jersey Institute of Technology (NJIT) are developing an intuitive course-based multimedia search engine for students and faculty; say personalized search capability on the near horizon.

google-search-tech[Editor’s Note: Our editorial picks include stories the editors believe either highlighted an important issue in 2015 and/or signaled the beginning of an escalating trend or issue for 2016.]

In the wake of the multimedia resources boom in campus courses across the world, sifting through hour-long recorded presentations or hundreds of pages of online text to find specific information can be like trying to find the keyword needle in a massive academic haystack. But that’s about to change.

In an effort to help both students and faculty better categorize and access information-rich multimedia resources—with the ultimate aim of improving learning—computer science and software development experts at NJIT are in beta for their creation called Ultimate Course Search (UCS): an open source Google-esque search tool that sifts through course-generated multimedia to find specific keywords.

“We know how to search fundamental data, and we do this on a daily basis. But how can someone look up an image? Or a specific slide in a online presentation? Currently, the only way to search these multimedia objects are within a folder,” explained Vincent Oria, associate professor and chair of the computer science online program at NJIT. “We wanted to see if we could build a system like Google locally for students and faculty.”

Oria said UCS, which is funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF), aims to not only improve learning overall by giving students a better way to access information, but improve the online learning experience as well.

“Right now, thousands of students are registering for online learning courses, but the dropout rate is incredibly high. If a student could, for example, type in a search term and pull up a specific reference within that online course, as well as any linked material within that online course that specifically mentions that keyword, perhaps students would get more out of the material.”

(Next page: Using the search)