Program Discovery offers applicants a modern take on locating, saving, and applying to relevant programs in Terra Dotta software. With the use of machine-learning technology and a redesigned interface, Program Discovery produces expansive search results not seen with traditional simple searches. Applicants benefit from a more far-reaching exploration of program offerings, and functional offices receive assistance with increasing program visibility and participation.
This article introduces the Program Discovery functionality and covers the following related topics:
- Understanding Program Discovery: The mechanics behind Program Discovery, including how program relevance is determined during a search.
- Managing Program Discovery: Enable and edit Program Discovery on your site. Look here for information about the Rebuild Index function.
- Searching for Programs: Instructions on navigating a search.
- Configuring Program Cards: Learn how to update hero images and summary text.
Important Note: Program Discovery is not available for clients with Terra Dotta installed on campus.
Understanding Program Discovery
It's important to understand the mechanics behind Program Discovery's machine-learning technology in order to best maximize the benefits of its functionality. A traditional simple search often requires users to filter down results to smaller subsets based on the search criteria entered. With Program Discovery, the system "learns" what search results to display. The more terms entered, the broader the results you will receive. Each keyword, location, and term are matched against the program-related data below.
Pulling Program Data Into Program Discovery
When a program is updated in Terra Dotta, data related to that program is pulled into an index and organized within Program Discovery. From this index, Program Discovery can run a comprehensive search based off the various data attributes for the program.
Program Discovery pulls in the following program-related data:
- Program Name and Title
- Program Summary
- Program Parameter(s)
- Brochure Content
Program Discovery Search Criteria
The following criteria are used to determine which programs are included in a Program Discovery search:
1) Active Program Status.
2) Program Type: Outgoing, Outgoing with Side Trips, or OneStep.
Important Note: Programs that are active yet are not accepting applications will appear in Program Discovery search results because they are not considered inactive.
Determining Program Relevance
When a search is conducted, Program Discovery looks for matches between the keywords entered by the user in the search field and the content associated with the program. The program is assigned a certain relevance score based on the "weight" of each data point associated with the program that is matched during the search and the number of times the keywords appeared in those data points. Some data points are weighted higher than others, meaning a match between the user's keywords and those data points is higher than a match to other data points for the program.
The following list describes the four different tiers of weight strength available for each data point (listed from highest weight strength to lowest):
1) Program Title, Program City(ies), Program Terms, and Program Summary
- These are all fields that appear on the program card and thus have the highest weight strength in terms of relevance.
- When a given keyword is matched with one of these fields, it is much more likely to appear at the top of the results screen as opposed to when a keyword matches the fields below.
- Include this information on a program card to increase the relevance score and improve search results.
- These data points have the second highest weight.
- Parameters must be searchable but do not need to be displayed.
- This has the lowest weight strength.
- The frequency of a keyword in the brochure text will also increase its weight strength.
- The content of both Classic and Program Wizard brochures is searched.
Program Discovery, like common internet search engines, does not narrow a user's search results when it is given more criteria by which to search. It instead broadens the search results but moves the results most relevant to their keywords to the top of the results.
Knowing this and which program data points are most heavily weighted, it is best practice to ensure that that a program's name, cities, terms, and program summary are complete and accurate. Include the keywords you think a user is most likely to use when searching for this program or others like it in those fields.
Managing Program Discovery
The management of Program Discovery includes enabling the feature on your site, editing text interface fields as applicable, and monitoring how programs are being pulled into your program index.
Important Note: Program Discovery should only be used if you have responsive public website pages enabled in Site Builder > Stock Layout.
Enabling Program Discovery
To enable Program Discovery, follow these steps:
1) Navigate to Settings > System Features. Click on the "Programs" tab.
2) Locate the "Program Listings" section. Here you will be given a list of possible search options available to enable on your site. Check the "enabled" box next to Program Discovery.
3) (optional) Check the "Display other program search tabs and content links" box if you want the other enabled program search options to be displayed alongside Program Discovery when a
site visitor clicks on Site Home Icon > Programs. For information regarding other program search options, refer to the Program Listings in the Public Program Search Knowledgebase article.
4) (optional) From the "Default" drop-down menu, you can set Program Discovery as the default search method that appears when a site visitor clicks on Site Home Icon > Programs.
5) Click "Update" at the bottom of the page to preserve your changes.
Once enabled, Program Discovery will appear alongside the existing search options accessed through the public "Programs" link on a site's homepage (Site Home Icon > Programs).
Important Note: Once Program Discovery is enabled, users without an application on your site will log in to see Program Discovery displayed on their applicant home page.
The Rebuild Index feature removes all stored data from the Program Discovery index to allow you to start over anew again. This "rebuild" action ensures that all programs that should be appearing in Program Discovery are displayed. The Rebuild Index feature is primarily to be used after using the Data Import/Export tool to create or edit programs because such changes do not trigger an update of the Program Discovery index.
Keep the following important information in mind before using the Rebuild Index button:
- The Rebuild Index button will not appear on your site until after Program Discovery has been enabled.
- It is not necessary to use the Rebuild Index button when Program Discovery is first enabled as all of your existing programs will automatically be indexed.
- All program changes are automatically pushed to the index. Therefore, using the Rebuild Index button is not necessary unless a lot of programs have been imported as noted above.
- Rebuilding the index does involve processing time which can be significantly impacted by such factors as the number of programs, program parameters, and locations used. Clients with large program catalogs should anticipate high processing times, noting that Terra Dotta continues to improve optimization of this functionality for increased performance.
Editing Program Discovery
Program Discovery can be edited with the use of text interface in the following ways:
1) Add Public Instructions
A text interface field for public instructions is available directly below the Program Discovery search bar. This field will be blank by default. It can be edited by a site user with Maintenance permissions using text interface identifier #10203 in Maintenance > Text Interface.
Note: This field can be left blank if desired, unlike other text interface fields in Terra Dotta for which the recommendation is still to never leave them blank. Text entered in this public instructions field will be visible to any site visitor who accesses the Program Discovery page.
2) Rename Program Discovery
It is possible to rename the Program Discovery functionality with text interface. The main Program Discovery display name is associated with text interface identifier #10204. The Program Discovery search tab text can be edited with text interface identifier #10097 in Maintenance > Text Interface.
Searching for Programs
Upon landing on Program Discovery's public program listing for the first time, a site visitor will be presented with a random list of six of your featured programs (as determined in Programs > Manage Groups). Featured programs are denoted with a star icon banner in the top left corner of the program listing and get high visibility, so consider this tip when you want to promote specific programs over others. If your site has less than six featured programs, then other programs will be pulled to display on the program listing page.
On the Program Discovery search page, a program card is used to display a snapshot of each program’s key information (title, locations, terms offered, and a brief description) and a “hero image” to visually highlight the program (see “Configuring Program Listings” below).
The top of the Program Discovery page provides a field for a keyword search (which searches the program location, parameters set to be searchable, and brochure) and a drop-down menu to filter by program term. If more than one filter is used, the results list will be displayed with the programs satisfying “AND” search criteria first. As you begin to type in the keyword search, a list of suggested searches are displayed. Hovering over the question mark (?) help icon displays tips for searching.
After entering your search criteria, you then see how many matches were found using that criteria and can click to browse the results. The program listings are sorted by relevance with those most closely matching the given criteria listed at the top of the page. For example, a search for Paris programs in the Fall returned 214 matches on my site:
Clicking the “X” icon to the right of the search fields clears the search filters and returns the user to the featured programs list.
Conducting a search without entering any criteria is not recommended. To best utilize this feature, at least one search item should be included.
On the results screen, programs will be listed in order of relevance to the search given criteria and will be shown with their corresponding search relevance strength. Hovering over the strength bar will display the actual percentage. Refer to the section "How Relevance is Determined in Program Discovery" below for more information.
Clicking on a program card will bring a site user to the full brochure for the program in a pop-out modal. The site user can then cycle through program brochures in the list using the arrow icons. Both classic and Program Wizard brochures are included in results.
Once a user has clicked into a program and viewed the brochure, a “Previously Viewed Programs” list will be displayed at the top of the program listing page.
In the bottom right corner of the brochure, two icons appear:
1) Chain Link: Click here to copy a shareable link for the brochure to your clipboard.
2) Heart: Click here to save the program. A “view liked” button then appears so a user can return to a list of every program they’ve saved.
Configuring Program Cards
The image that is displayed on a program card (known as the “hero image”) will be automatically pulled from the Google Places API based on the first location listed for the program. The hero image includes an attribution to the image source.
To set your own hero image for a program card:
1) Navigate to the "Details" page of the Program Wizard for the applicable program.
2) An editable preview of what the program card will look like to a site visitor using Program Discovery appears. Click on the "upload file" arrow button to change the hero image from what is shown to an image of your choice.
To edit the summary text for a program card:
1) Navigate to the "Details" page of the Program Wizard for the applicable program.
2) Click into the editable text field on the program card to make your edits.
3) Click "save" to preserve your changes.
Note: All of your site’s active, searchable Outgoing and Outgoing w/Side Trips and OneStep type programs will be displayed in Program Discovery regardless of whether or not they were built using the Program Wizard functionality. However, the hero image and summary text must be edited in the Program Wizard.