Program Discovery offers applicants a modern take on locating, saving, and applying to relevant programs in Terra Dotta Study Abroad. 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 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.
- Program Discovery Filters: Students can refine search results by desired countries, terms, and program details.
- Using the Site Builder and Program Discovery
- Frequently Asked Questions
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
All program changes are automatically pushed out to the index.
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.
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.
2) Program Country(ies) and Program Region(s)
- These data points have the second highest weight.
3) Program Parameters
- Parameters must be searchable but do not need to be displayed.
4) Program Brochure Content
- 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.
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).
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.
Searching for Programs
Upon landing on Program Discovery's public program listing for the first time, a site visitor will be presented with a list of 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.
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 filters menu (see the Program Discovery Filters section of this article for full details). As you begin to type in the keyword search, a list of results are displayed.
After entering your keyword search criteria, results immediately begin to appear based on that information. The program listings are sorted by relevance with those most closely matching the given criteria listed at the top of the page.
Clicking the "Clear All Filters" icon to the right of the search field to remove all search data.
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 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.
All of your site’s active, searchable Outgoing and Outgoing w/Side Trips 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.
Students can navigate your program catalog with ease and quickly access a list of relevant programs with the use of filters in Program Discovery. Search results are refined by the countries, terms, and program details selected by the student.
To the right of the search field, clicking on the "Filters" button opens up a menu from which students can apply search option filters to refine their results.
Filters are dynamic and include these options:
- Students can select one or more country values at a time.
- These options are based on program location.
- Program Parameters
- These details are program parameters that have been configured as "available for search" from the Settings > Program Parameters menu. If a site has more than six program parameters to display, then the "Show more search options" link will appear in the filters menu. Clicking on this link will expand the menu to display additional parameters.
- Program parameters will appear in the filters menu based on how they are ordered in the Settings > Parameters menu.
- Students select an option, such as "Major" first, and then they select the desired value, such as "Environmental Studies".
- Students can select one or more values at a time except for "Yes or No" type program parameters.
- The following program parameter types are currently not supported and will not appear as filters: Minimum Value, Maximum Value, and Payment.
- Students can select one or more term values at a time.
- Only programs of the type Outgoing will be returned in the search results.
After the desired values are applied, they will appear on the page as a quick way for students to reference the search criteria that has been applied. Hovering over each value will display text to indicate the search options category in use.
Example: In the image below, the hover text of "Term" would appear over the value of "Summer" to demonstrate that this value is associated with this filter option. The hover text of "Country" would appear over the values of "Canada" and "France".
After filters have been applied, the system will only return results if certain logic is met. The logic used is "OR" between values of the same filter type. The logic used is "And" between different filter types. If no programs meet the criteria of the filters applied, then no results will be returned. A message of "0 Matches" will display.
A student has applied the following filters:
- Country: Cameroon, Canada, France.
- Area of Study: Language and Culture.
- Term: Spring, Fall.
The system reads this as: When the Country is Cameroon or Canada or France - AND the area of study is Language and Culture - AND the term is spring or fall, then X programs are returned.
Only those programs which meet this criteria will be returned in the results. In this example, only one program met this criteria.
In the image below, the values of "Art" and "Art History" have been selected from the "Areas of Study" filter option.
The results returned are only for those programs where the area of study is "Art" or "Art History". In this example, three programs met this criteria.
After filters are applied, a unique URL is generated that can be copied from your browser and shared.
For sites using the Site Builder to support their public home page, Program Discovery will function as the program search option for site users and offers additional functionality as follows:
Program Type Expanded Support
When the Site Builder is enabled on a site, Program Discovery will support program searches for the following program types:
- Outgoing with Side Trips
- Program Enrollment,
Program Type Filter
When these program types are active on your site, then they will appear as value options for the "Program Type" filter in Program Discovery when the Site Builder is enabled.
As a component of the Site Builder, the following text identifiers are supported with Program Discovery:
- 10203: Find the program that's right for you! Select one or multiple search options from the Filters menu to get started.
- 10204: Program Discovery
Within the Site Builder, offices can use the content editor's text box to create additional text or instructions, such as the "Explore over 100 programs!" text above, that appear on the Program Discovery page.
Important Note: As a component of the Site Builder, the use of text identifier #10097 with Program Discovery is not supported. There is no longer a "Program Discovery" button on the public program search page because Program Discovery is the only program search option available in the Site Builder.
For additional information on the Site Builder, see the Site Builder for Terra Dotta Study Abroad article.
1. What is the best practice for generating a list of featured programs with Program Discovery?
In Program Discovery, if no filters are applied, then the default setting will display a maximum of six featured program cards on the page. If your office has a large number of programs that are in program groups marked as "featured", then follow these steps as an option to generate a full listing of your featured programs in Program Discovery.
As a reminder, a program group is configured as "featured" under Programs > Manage Programs.
1. Create a custom program parameter on your site called Featured Programs that is type "Yes or No" under Settings > Program Params. Configure the parameter so that it is available for search and display.
2. Assign this program parameter with a value of "Yes" to your featured programs in the "Details" tab of your program in Program Wizard. If you want the option of applying the parameter value to multiple programs in a program group (such as your Featured Program group) at once, you will need to do this from the classic program builder's "Parameters" tab at this time.
3. Navigate to Program Discovery and assign a filter with the value of "Yes" for the featured program parameter.
The returned results will list all of your programs in the Featured Program group and any other program group that might have been configured such that it is considered "Featured".
A unique URL will be generated that you can also copy from you browser and share.