The Student Web Advisory Team (SWAT) has spent the past year working on two coordinated projects; redesigning the campus digest and the student gateway. The Bowdoin community will soon see at least one portion of the team's extensive labor come to fruition; pending the finalized technical details, SWAT will start testing the new digest at the beginning of next week.
The new version will not immediately replace the current program, however. During the testing phase, the redesigned digest will simply be offered as an alternative system.
The team is still determining the best approach to introducing the new system: pre-select a group of students to try out the new digest, invite the entire campus via email to visit the new digest and experiment with the design, or begin with a smaller group before opening the new version up to the whole campus later in the week.
In many ways, the new digest will function as the current digest does; it will still be posted online and emailed to the community. SWAT's primary goal was to organize and streamline the information aggregated on the digest in order to make it a more useful communication tool.
The redesigned platform will be divided into two separate columns for student posts and posts by faculty, staff and administration. Those columns are then subdivided into separate categories and organized based on the time of the event. Anyone posting to the new digest will be required to post into one category, and SWAT hopes to enforce restrictions on how many times an individual can post to a single digest.
Perhaps most innovative of all, the new digest will also provide space for feedback; users will be able to "like" or "dislike" posts, and the digest would respond by moving individual posts up or down on the listings based on community input.
Senior Oronde Kruger had a favorable outlook on the proposed changes.
"Maybe I would pay more attention to the digest if it was better organized," he said.
Leah Greenberg '13 agreed, noting that while she does read the digest, many students ignore the digest because "it's overwhelming and not easy to use." She added that any changes would not "make [the digest] any worse."
Following the week of testing, SWAT intends to fix any bugs that become apparent. BSG President John Connolly '11, one of the members of SWAT, joked that this timetable "is probably good because Ivies is not the most effective time to test things anyway."
"The week beginning May 2 tentatively is when we're thinking of having it go live, as in taking the place of the current digest," added Connolly.
Should the campus community respond positively to the changes and if the design works smoothly, SWAT hopes to possibily eliminate campus-wide emails. Connolly and SWAT believe that if people start to consider the digest as a valuable source of information and use it effectively, it would eventually remove the need to spread every campus announcement via email, sparing community members from clogged inboxes.
Yet, as Connolly explained, eliminating campus-wide emails is still a ways off.
"The new digest needs to be out and work before we fully engage with that topic; we're not going to cut off the things that people are used to unless we've got everything worked out with the new thing," he said. "We've got to get input from various stakeholders around campus."