Outside The Square

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The Outside the Square project project is now finished for 2004. Ultralab South’s role was primarily to constructed a bespoke Blogsite using Drupal Open Source Software. This allows for a high degree of customisation enabling the Blogsite to also serve the function of a project website. Each registered user is given their own account with the ability to readily upload images and text. In addition, each posting can be commented on by other people enabling online conversations to take place. A ‘central’ Blog account was used for the project leader to communicate information about the project.

Our specific aims were:

  • offer the opportunity for OTS participants to independently publish on the www with little technical knowledge using a web browser.
  • build and brand a project website
  • offer the facility for the project leader to independently publish project related material
  • train users
  • support the OTS project leader as a ‘sounding board’

    The ‘statistical’ outcomes were over 100 registered user accounts with approximately 80 OTS participants introduced to the idea of Blogging and trained in the use of the Drupal OSS software. Of these, approximately 10% used the site regularly.

    Although much was achieved in terms of the online element of the project, thus far only the surface of the potential opportunities has been scratched. Much more could be done by way of supporting the aims of the OTS project in promoting entrepreneurial activities amongst young adults and school children. Some of the ideas not yet develop are listed below.

    Lessons learned

  • Drupal Open Source Software proved to be a robust platform that was relatively easy to customise to meet the ongoing development needs of the project.
  • still significant barriers of access to the internet for some students both at school and at other times
  • 20-30 minute training sessions for the Blogsite were not long enough for users to remember the site or the processes for accessing the site. To what extent is this related to their being enough purpose?
  • Closer integration between the f2f components and the online element would enhance the participants understanding of where the Blogsite fits in the overall OTS experience.
  • Most participants use Blogs as a form of direct communication, much like leaving a note for others to read and reply to. There were occasional instances of participants Blogging about events.

    Future possibilities

  • Entrepreneurs as ‘hotseat’ guests be as a means of enabling access to the project over a wide geographical area.
  • Use of the Blogsite for participants to disseminate their entrepreneurial projects
  • explore the possibility of competitions to stimulate interest run through the Blogsite
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